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Remembering Pearl Harbor

"On Sunday, December 7, we were following the usual routine. After lunch, mom and dad had gone back to their bedroom to take a nap. I started listening to music on the radio. I believe it was the New York Philharmonic. At around 2:00PM, the program was interrupted to announce that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor Naval Base in Hawaii. I was stunned. At first I didn’t believe that it was true. I listened for a few more minutes as more bulletins came in indication that it was a very large raid and serious damage had been done.

After probably five minutes or so, I raced back to the bedroom and woke mom and dad and told them the news. They immediately got up and came to the living room to hear the news.

As the hours went by, more news came in indicating we had suffered a real setback and that it was a total surprise.

Dad suggested that we drive downtown and see if any "extras" were out yet that could give us more information. As we were proceeding through town on 5th street, dad ran a red light at the corner of 5th and North Tryon. A policeman on the corner gave him the whistle and wrote a ticket. Dad was really flustered by this time. He did not even see the light. His mind was 5,000 miles away.

We did get our "extra". Newsboys were standing on several corners down town yelling "Extra! Extra! Read all about it, war begins!" I believe it was the Charlotte Observer we bought. Big banner headlines told of the attack.

When we arrived back home, I again opened the conversation about joining the Navy as I had been working on dad about it while we went downtown. I knew the Navy would take 17 year olds with parental approval. I wanted to go up Monday morning when the recruiting office opened and enlist. mom and dad continued to say "No" and gave me a long list of reasons why.

The discussion continued on into the evening hours, but my case was getting stronger as news continued to come in. It was more bad news. Every bulletin seemed to bring news of more losses and indications of more Japanese aggression taking place in other locations in the Pacific. I don’t remember dad ever saying anything but from that point on we only talked in terms of my going. He did say that he thought I should finish high school before I enlisted. That night I hay in the bed thinking of what I was about to do. Was I crazy?

"I was at the recruiting office by about 7:30AM, and to my surprise, there was a long line with maybe 100 guys in it. Up until this point I was wondering if I was going to be the only one who was that fired up about this attack. The line had all types in it. There were young and old, well dressed and not so well dressed. The Navy recruiters passed out multitudes of forms and told us to start filling them out.

Finally, my name was called. My heart was pounding. My legs were weak. This was it."

-Charles M. Paty, Jr., who was assigned to NORTH CAROLINA after boot camp and served in her throughout the War

"The ship went immediately into war regulations, even though the United States did not declare war until December 8, 1941. Censorship became for the crew something difficult to live with. It was like taking away our freedom, it was something everyone had to abide by. The sound bite was ‘Loose lips sink ships.’"

- Chief Leo O. Drake

"The day war was declared, we were in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. In fact, I had the duty of sounding that war had been declared. We got the word ‘bogeys’, and we went to General Quarters in the yard. We had ammunition in the mount. We got the word to ‘stand by.’ We heard this many times before in our drills. Our next order would have been ‘commence firing.’ Just then, we got the word to ‘Rest easy,’ the plane was a ‘friendly.’"

-Paul A. Wieser

"December 7, 1941, I was at home in Jersey City and planned to take my mother to a New York City movie. The radio had a bulletin about Pearl Harbor, details were sketchy and we proceeded to take the bus to New York. As we exited the movie, it was dark and people came up the me and said "You better get back to your ship sailor." I took my mother to the bus depot and then returned to the Brooklyn Navy Yard. I remember distinctly my surprise when two guards with rifles accosted me as I walked to the ship. Things had changed."

-Larry Resen

"December 7, 1941. I had the duty this weekend, and was asleep in my top bunk when the word came. ‘This is not a drill. The Japanese have bombed Pearl Harbor. We are in a state of war.’ We went to General Quarters and started setting up guard posts throughout the ship. I was given a 45 caliber automatic and duty belt and stood watch outside a lower 5-inch handling room. Some patrolled the opening to the Navy Yard in our launches, watching for anything that might float in that was suspicious. I had no idea where Pearl Harbor was, and knew little about the Japanese. I soon learned.

Before Pearl Harbor, the public didn’t have too good an opinion of a sailor, even my girlfriend’s mother didn’t trust me after I joined. But Monday when I headed home, I couldn’t put a nickel in the fare box. I was being treated like a hero, what a difference a war made. My family didn’t expect me and they were all gathered as if they wouldn’t see me again till the war was over. When I walked in you would have thought I was gone for years. ‘Home the Hero.’ "

- Chief William R.Taylor

"I had lunch with mom and dad and some friends. I said good-bye and kissed them. I came back to the gate and the Marine at the gate said, "Get back to your ship, Pearl Harbor has been bombed and we are at war." Running back to the ship, there were guns going up on the buildings and the Brooklyn Navy Yard boats going out into the East River."

-Edwin L. Calder


1999 The Battleship USS North Carolina Commission
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Last updated: July 18, 1999.