My mother could see the channel leading into Pearl Harbor from her house on Hickman AFB, Hawaii December 7, 1941. She was pregnant with her first child (not me) and my father was state-side. The US planes had been ferried to California for maintenance, which is why we had as large a presence in the Pacific after the attack as we had. She watched the ships trying to clear the channel to open water to avoid being sunk in the harbor. She saw one get hit before that was possible. As she stool there stunned and watched men begin jumping into burning water, her neighbor, a military nurse, pulled her inside and told her to turn her radio on for evacuation instructions. Can you even imagine how terrified that young woman from Ely,Nevada was? They could see the Japanese pilots as they made bomb runs. Others later reported that they could see their faces when they dropped low enough to strafe the buildings.
My mother, along with the other women and children at Hickam, were bused up to Tripler Army Hospital in case of a second attack. As they drove past the barracks on Hickam, they saw medics tending to wounded men being brought out. She said the lawn was covered with the wounded and she could see the marks on the walls and the broken windows. The planes had flown low enough to use their guns on specific buildings.
Traditionally, those holes remain on the sides of those buildings as a reminder of that day.
My father and the other pilots returned to Hawaii shortly after the attack. My parents were grateful for a brief time together before Mom was sent home and Dad deployed to serve in the Pacific theater. He returned safely almost four years later.
God bless our military and their families. Thank you for serving. It isn’t enough but Thank You.