Segment 2


December 7th, 1941 started off no different from any other Sunday. It was quiet and a lot of ships were in the harbor. Year by year the Navy operated by conducting drills and patrols. The patrols were made up of cruisers and destroyers; if the battleships were out of the harbor they were drilling. December marked the end of the operating year for the Navy. A lot of ships were going to be in harbor over the Christmas holiday. The attack on Pearl Harbor had been planned for years and they had been practicing for years. Ward notes that the Japanese were able to discern the layout of the battleships because anyone could look down and see where they were. Ward was scared, but noted that after about 15 minutes into the attack he took a second to realize the precision of the Japanese attack. It was like they were going through a drill. It might as well have been a drill for the Japanese because no one was prepared to fight. Many sailors were on the beach because they had leave for the weekend. Many sailors, the ones who could afford it, spent the time ashore with their wives. Most of the guys around Ward's age were not concerned with getting married because they could not afford it. Ward did not think about marriage until the end of the war. Pearl Harbor was chaotic; it was bloody, and it was frightening until he was able to realize what was happening. Ward's battle station was on the wing of the bridge. Ward could see the whole thing happen. He witnessed the Oklahoma roll over while the Arizona was still exploding. Ward recalls being able to see the pilots individually as they came in low and slow. Ward could see the torpedoes fall into the water and witnessed them slamming into the Tennessee and West Virginia. Pearl Harbor was very shallow and needed to be dredged every year or two. The Japanese raised hell, Ward could look aft and could see little dots diving and swooping over Hickam Field. Ward could see black smoke rising in the sky. Ward could not see beyond Pearl Harbor from the opposite direction of Hickam. All of the docking buoys were occupied by destroyers or cruisers. The carriers were not in Pearl Harbor. Ward had a friend whose time was up. He was heading back to the states to be discharged. He was aboard the USS Saratoga heading back to San Diego. Two days out of port the Saratoga came back to Pearl Harbor and his friend ended up serving the rest of the war. San Francisco was a dead ship; they were taking water and power from the beach. Most of their food stuffs were coming from the beach. The refrigeration aboard ship was taken offline so that it could be overhauled and cleaned. The midship of the San Francisco had a well deck aft of their stacks. The well deck was wide open on December 7th so that the cranes could get access to the ship. Ward was able to see everything happening because they had backed up into their mooring. The bow of the ship was pointed out directly towards the harbor. Ward had earphones on. There were five people stationed around the bridge of the ship. Ward went to the battle station and realized he was the only one to show up. Ward grabbed a set of headphones and a voice from damage control wanted to know who he was speaking too. Ward told him they were being attacked by the Japanese. The voice responded and told Ward to not get wise with him and answer the question. Ward described what he was looking at and there was dead silence on the other end. Ward never heard from the man again.


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