Tag Archives: first chance

Pearl Harbor

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“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.’”
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 to 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

Sheet Music

“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.’“
Bill 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

“I remember the day the war broke out. I had just got off watch at 4 o’clock. I changed my dress blues, got showered and shaved. I was standing on the deck waiting for my buddy and that is when the war broke out. We were all standing in line for inspection and they passed the word that all leave was cancelled.”
Edward Hall

“Received electrifying news of the fact that Japan had bombed the U.S. possession Pearl Harbor! U.S. declared war on Japan (12/8/41). My birthday today and feel very lonely and sort of thrilled because war declared on my birthday.”
Mike Marko


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Captain Hanlon announces end of the war

Captain Hanlon announces end of war

“I was below deck when Captain Hanlon announced the war was over and I can still to this day remember him saying ‘Now here this, this is the captain’ and then he went into telling us. Boy, you talk about a roar that went up! I think the whole ship jumped about two feet out of the water! Admiral ‘Bull’ Halsey passed the word throughout the fleet that ‘Apparently the war is over, though nothing has been signed yet. So in the meantime, if any enemy aircraft come in your area, shoot them down in a friendly manner…’ So we were still absolutely ready at all times. “

Shortly after the end of the war, I was up on 20mm watch in Tokyo Bay and we were playing cards and not really worrying about anything when I noticed a bunch of sailors assembling something down on the main deck. I thought it looked like a boat or something and wondered where in the world it came from. It was actually a little 14 to 16 foot sailboat that belonged to the captain and had been all packed up until this time. He had made a vow somewhere that the one thing he wanted more than anything else was to sail this sailboat in Tokyo Bay. I watched them lower over and he walked down the plank and got on that thing and I could see him sailing around past all of our ships.

Robert L. Palomaris

“We got word over the public address system that the Japanese surrender. ‘The war is over’ and you could have heard us over in New York City screaming out there in the middle of the Pacific.”

Paul A. Wieser

“I remember before the war was over there was a man named Kaiser, a seaman in the 4th Division. He was a telephone talker, a stand-by telephone talker. A message came over and everybody was talking and sort of having a little fun. He wanted to keep us quiet because a message was coming over. It was something about an unusual type of bomb or heavy explosion that had happened to Japan. But it didn’t make sense to anybody there, and we make fun of him a little bit. He kind of got mad about it. A little later on we learned that the first atomic bomb had been exploded which was bringing Japan down to her knees at the end of the war…

We were wanting to get the war over with. If we were going to survive, we’d survive and if we didn’t, we didn’t. The main thing was to get it over with. I just wanted to get back to the hills of Tennessee. I just knew I was wanting to get off the NORTH CAROLINA, get out of the war, get back home, and pick up where I left off. I remember feeling proud. I had a lot of pride in the NORTH CAROLINA, even with the type of job I had. I felt that the war was necessary. I had no regrets of doing it.”

Ollie C. Goode


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Berthing on third deck

“Below decks it was HOT, no air conditioning. Air was taken from topside (outside) and blown into the living compartments. At night when you slept in your bunk, you sweat. Your mattress would get real damp. When you got up the first thing you did was cover up your mattress with a fireproof cover. This would be almost airtight and after a few weeks your bunk became pretty ripe. First chance you had the ship would air bedding. You would take your bedding topside and air it. I had a large air duct alongside my bunk. I cut a small hole in it and fitted a piece of a tin can to divert some air onto me. It helped.”

William Taylor, Boatswain’s Mate 1/c

“When I came off watch at midnight, I’d get a blanket and a pillow and go up by the forward 16-inch guns and sleep on the deck until it was time to go on watch again or breakfast. That’s the only way you could stay cool.”

Ortho Farrar, Machinist’s Mate 1/c

Sleeping on deck

“They let me work in flag plot. It was a small place. I can remember it was air- conditioned. I was so lucky to be able to work in there and I even had a little canvas cot and I slept in there at night.”

Lieutenant Ben Blee, Combat Intelligence Officer

“The trick was to take a shower, go quietly in your bunk, even though the ship itself might have been a 100 degrees, to go to bed before you start sweating again, to get at least a half hour sleep before you wake up again from the sweat and everything else and continue on the day.”

Leo Neumann, Machinist’s Mate 1/c

“A lot of times we’d be very tired. You got very little sleep. I’ve actually gone on my gun stations like some of the other men. I’ve seen them do it. You’d lie down as soon as you could get a break. I’d hang my arms over the gun’s shield and just dose off. I could go to sleep standing up. When we were allowed to, we’d lie down on top of one of the 40mm gun boxes and get some sleep.

Ollie Goad

“I slept outside. Everybody slept more or less near their battle stations, and I slept outside. “

Paul Wieser, Boatswain’s Mate 1/c

Sleeping topside on a ship

“Routine was to bring your mattress up from the bunk down below because nobody wanted to get caught below if we got torpedoed. Sleep up on the Signal Bridge. Every once in a while you wake up in a puddle. It would rain in on you.”

Jackson Belford, Signalman 3/c