In 1941 my family lived in the town of Kalehe in Honolulu, Hawaii. My dad was a Chief Petty Officer stationed at Pearl Harbor.
On December 7, 1941 about 7 a.m., my sister Ima Jean and I were playing outside on the roof of a neighborhood taxi stand waiting for our dad to come home and join us for breakfast. He was port duty officer and had to stay on board to hand out liberty passes on Sunday morning. I leaned later that he was half way home when he realized the the base was under attack and he turn around and went back to his ship.
Kalehe is about 15 miles from Pearl Harbor and my sister and I could see the smoke rising from the burning ships. Occasionally planes with a big red dot painted on the side would fly over the town, and being kids we waved and they waved back!
My dad was at the time the senior Chief Petty at Pearl and since he had lost his ship, he had his choice of the fist available billet open for a Chief, which turned out to be a submarine. Dad’s boat set out for the South China Sea and we didn’t see him again until nearly a year after the war ended.
It wasn’t until years later when I was studying history in school that I realized what my sister and I had witnessed. And when we got to the part about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, I jumped up and said “Hey I was there”.
— Robert F. Wilson
P.S. I always call my brother Tom on his birthday. He was born a year and a day after Pearl Harbor.
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