Civilian in Hawaii

Postwar and Reflections


Richard Guthrie was born in November 1933 at the Quantico Marine Corps Air Station in Quantico, Virginia. His father was a Naval Academy [Annotator’s Note: The United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland] graduate and had just finished the company commander school at Quantico, specializing in submarines. His mother grew up in Pearl Harbor [Annotator’s Note: Pearl Harbor, Hawaii]. After his father finished his submarine training, he was assigned to a submarine tender which ended up in Pearl Harbor. The following April, he and his mother followed his father to Hawaii. He went to a local Hawaiian school as a boy. On 7 December 1941, his father received a call early in the morning and was told that Pearl Harbor was being attacked [Annotator's Note: The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on 7 December 1941]. His father’s ship was the second ship out of the harbor after the attack begin. After the attack, his mother feared that the Japanese were going to invade Hawaii, so she slept with a butcher knife for seven days. Guthrie lived in a house near Diamond Head, and he saw Zero [Annotator's Note: Japanese Mitsubishi A6M fighter aircraft, referred to as the Zeke or Zero] planes flying around heading to Pearl Harbor. Guthrie understood what was going on during the attack. His father served on the USS Arizona (BB-39) and had been assigned to the USS Montgomery (DD-121) in late 1940. After the attack, the military told the civilians to shut off all their lights at night, and car headlights were painted over with black paint. Everyone was very cautious for weeks after the attack. Guthrie’s father did not return from his ship until 13 December 1941. He went with his mother to pick their father up from work. Guthrie left Hawaii in March 1945 and moved back to the mainland United States. As the war progressed, Guthrie was aware of the events that were happening in Europe and the Pacific. He had an uncle who served in the military.


Richard Guthrie’s father was an officer stationed at Pearl Harbor during the Japanese attack [Annotator's Note: The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on 7 December 1941]. His father was stationed on the USS Arizona (BB-39) until late 1940. His former assistant officer was killed on the USS Arizona. Guthrie later served as a Seabee [Annotator's Note: members of US naval construction battalions] when he became of age. His first duty was in Alaska. His service was a very rewarding experience. Initially after the attack on Pearl Harbor, martial law was enacted, so civilians had to follow specific orders. Guthrie believes there should be institutions like the National WWII Museum [Annotator's Note: The National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana], and that we should continue to teach World War 2 to future generations. He enjoyed watching the growth of the museum.

All oral histories featured on this site are available to license. The videos will be delivered via mail as Hi Definition video on DVD/DVDs or via file transfer. You may receive the oral history in its entirety but will be free to use only the specific clips that you requested. Please contact the Museum at if you are interested in licensing this content. Please allow up to four weeks for file delivery or delivery of the DVD to your postal address.