NAME: Ardith E. Laing
UNIT: Husband was in 19th
TIME PERIOD: December 7, 1941 Infantry
SOURCE: Account given to museum by her daughter.
DATE RECEIVED: July 2005
December 7th started out with our usual Sunday morning routine. Major O’Brien left for his Sunday golf game, Mrs. O’Brien getting their three girls up and dressed for the day. I, after bidding my husband goodbye, started preparing breakfast.
All of a sudden in the background we could hear the sound of explosions of bombs being dropped and armed aircraft flying overhead and shooting all around us.
Major O’Brien dashed in and out but stayed long enough to give us instructions to leave immediately for the 21st Infantry barracks because the Japanese had bombed the island. Mrs. O’Brien’s replied we would leave as soon as the children were fed.
Upon arriving at the squad, we were escorted to a large barracks room which was filled with many other women and children. One impression that I will always remember about the room was the large white canvas bag that was suspended from the ceiling filled with drinking water. Rumors of the destruction due the Japanese attack were plentiful. They had bombed the ships in Pearl Harbor Bay, destroyed all our aircraft except three planes at Hickam Field, Wheeler Field and Fort Shafter. They concentrated on barracks and mess halls on land because many men were still sleeping or eating breakfast.
At Schofield our men were unarmed until the storerooms were unlocked and the rumors were the 19th Infantry was the first company to have manned a machine gun on their roof.
I have no idea how long we were detained at the barracks but long enough for the O’Brien’s baby to need diapers. Mrs. O’Brien asked if my girlfriend and I would go back to the house, which was just a half a block, for diapers. We received permission from the guard and being young and having no sense of fear off we went.
Arriving at the house and gathering the diapers, we glanced out the window and noticed the soldiers were digging trenches in the field across the alley behind the house. We decided to go out to say “HI” to them. We walked to the alley and a plane was heard approaching and the fellows beckoned for us get back in the house. We were too slow because the plane was diving and we could see him grimacing his teeth as he pulled the trigger on his machine gun.
Waianae Ave. was the main thoroughfare of Schofield. On the way back to the 21st Infantry we had to wait to cross because it was busy with army equipment and ambulances going back and forth to the base hospital. We witnessed a Japanese plane machine gunning an ambulance with wounded on the way to the hospital.
Late that afternoon they came around with a memo that we could return to our quarters but not to drink water unless boiled, not to use the telephone and stay inside away from the windows until further orders.
Later that day a guard came with a memo telling us to pack a small suitcase and the guard would be back to escort us to the quad. Upon arriving at the quad, there were other women and children milling around and asking questions which were never answered. There were army school buses lined up all around the quad with two army personnel at the door of each bus. Later we were told one was a driver and the other a guard after they loaded us into the buses at dusk. At the main gate we could see other buses headed towards Honolulu and we followed. The road we had to travel was a hilly and curvy country road without any lights because of blackout orders throughout the island.
Today I think of what a huge responsibility the young man who was our driver felt and how scared he must have been. The closer we crept to “Pearl City” the night sky was all ablaze from the many fires on the land and in the harbor. We could see a ship on its side. Later we heard it was the “Oklahoma”. We were stopped at a checkpoint before entering Honolulu where guards entered to check the passengers. All of a sudden gunshots were heard outside the bus and it startled one of the women in the bus, causing her to scream. The scream woke the children that were asleep and after quieting them we proceeded on our journey.
The driver stopped near what appeared to be on the outskirts of the city. While stopped, a Japanese fellow in broken English said “I’m Japanese but had no knowledge or involvement in the attack. He started shoving new blankets into the windows by the driver saying he hoped they would help us out. We thanked him and continued on our way.
It being so dark, we had no idea where we were headed except we were headed further in from the city and bay. We finally stopped in front of a large school-like building where armed guards were stationed. We were escorted into a dimly lit building where all the windows were covered with blinds so lights couldn’t escape to the outside. Once inside we were assembled and an officer in charge informed us of the rules and regulations and that we would be there for a few days. He had no idea how long it would be. They assigned a certain amount of women to each room furnished only with chairs. Using the blankets that had been given to us before, we made beds for the children on the floor. The mothers got their children bedded and most of the adults sat around talking and sharing the different rumors they had heard. Also wondering what was in store for us in the morning and if our husbands were okay.
They assigned groups to each room. We improvised beds for the real small children putting chairs together and made beds on the floor for the older children and adults. We were very thankful for the blankets that had been given to us because blankets had not arrived yet.
The next morning a guard escorted us to a cafeteria in another building and we were served a scanty breakfast because it was the school cafeteria and supplies were limited. We reassembled again and the officer in charge related to us supplies would be delivered later on in the day. A limited amount of cots and blankets arrived and we still had the floor for beds. Our food wasn’t the best but we didn’t go hungry.
I don’t recall how many days we were isolated without any news from the outside world. Our morale was very low and it didn’t help much that dysentery had raised its ugly head amongst us. Many were transferred late at night to keep panic from setting in by an army ambulance to the makeshift hospital at the University of Hawaii.
The following Sunday morning planes were heard and we all rushed to the windows to see “B 47’s” which had been scheduled to arrive on December 7th. How relieved and happy we were because now we had some air protection. A few days later orders were received for us to be packed and ready within an hour to leave for Schofield.
On the trip home we saw all the destructions due to the bombing. The battered ships in the harbor, partly and completely demolished buildings and barracks. The closer we got to Schofield everyone was quiet with their own thoughts, hoping for news of their husbands and wondering what was ahead for them. Wondering if their husbands were okay, if they would see them or know of their whereabouts. As we arrived inside the gate of the post we were confronted with many changes. There were bomb shelters, fox holes and trenches all around. Windows were covered with blackout curtains and armed guards patrolled around all the buildings. We were restricted to quarters after dark and required to wear “ID” tags at all time. I was informed the O’Brien’s had left on the first ship of evacuees. This meant I hadn’t a place to live. I contacted the neighbors next door to the O’Brien’s whose husband was a doctor in the medical company and his family hadn’t received their evacuation orders yet.
I was there for one day and was on my way back to Honolulu in an army ambulance with labor pains. After arriving at the hospital, I was examined and the diagnosis were false labor pains. The army physicians suggested I be admitted to the hospital till the baby was delivered because I could deliver at any moment. Billy, my son, arrived two weeks later on February 5th, 1942. I was not released till Billy was two weeks old.
Upon arriving at the base we stayed at the former neighbors for awhile. Still no news of my husband. Don’t know how long we were there when finally my husband found us. He made arrangement for us to use maids quarters located behind the upper officer’s quarters which were small cottages. We stayed there until our evacuations orders came. I don’t remember the exact date but orders finally came sometime in May or June. Not having any family in the states myself, my husband made arrangements for Billy and me to stay with his parents in Mallory Station, a small town outside of Syracuse, New York.
Billy and I boarded the English luxury liner “Aquatania”. It was manned by English sailors and cooks. Our menus were in English terminology. I got educated about the fact that Lyonnaise potatoes are just plain old American fried potatoes.
They had all the walls of the social rooms boarded up with big sheets of plywood so their art work and decorations were protected. The luxurious furnishings were replaced by makeshift furniture. I was fortunate to be sharing a stateroom with the girl who had been in the same ward as I was and who also had a son born the same day as my baby. She was married to a sailor and was going back to his family also in New York State. She was a direct descendant of King Kamehameha.
Her in-laws lived in New York City but she had an uncle there who owned a night club in the city and he assured her that if things didn’t pan out for her, she could work for him. The only alternative I had was to live with my in-laws. We were both apprehensive about how we would be accepted by in-laws we had never met.
Shortly after arriving, I went to work at the General Electric turbine plant since my husband didn’t make an allotment for Billy and me. I had a letter from my friend and it didn’t work out for her so she was living with her uncle and working for him. Me, I joined the Woman’s Army Corp. A couple of years later I divorced Harold S. Kuhnley.
My second husband of forty five years, who is now deceased, Kirk Donald, was stationed on the ship “Oklahoma” on December 7th. In abandoning the ship he swam through oil covered water and miscellaneous body parts to reach the shore.
I visited the island for the first time since I was evacuated after the war on March of 2003 and noted many changes because of progress. No longer is Oahu the primitive and sparsely populated island. The two lane red dirt road has been replaced by a freeway. Homes and many various buildings have replaced the sugar cane and pineapple fields. The Spreckles Cane Sugar refinery is unseen from the road. Wahiawa was just a spot in the road with “Dots Drive In”, a theater, drugstore, roller skating and a photography shop. Kemoo Farm, just outside the gate, was a nice restaurant and bar with a dress shop in the same building where many a formal was bought. Entertainment after five o’clock on the post, required formal dress.
I forgot to mention “Pearl City” was just a huge tent. It was being established.
Schofield has certainly enlarged but the old part is the same. Officer and noncom quarters are the same. The Kahala Club was an enlisted men’s dance hall with music provided from various band companies once a week. They had an outside beer garden by the PX for enlisted men. We had an outdoor stadium with a stage for visiting entertainers. That’s where I saw Hilo Hattie performed many times.
My first marriage was performed in the little chapel that still stands. Our source of news was the local radio station and when ships docked in the bay. Waikiki Hotel and beach was the popular tourist spot. There were jitneys we used for transportation to and from Schofield. It costs us twenty cents one way.
My ex-husband Harold S. Kuhnley was a trumpet player in the 19th Infantry Band. My step-father Master Sgt. Lee Ross was with the 21st Infantry till the early part of 1941. My dad, Ross Edwards, was 1st Sgt with the 27th Infantry and stationed at Schofield about 1935 for six years.
NAME : Allen Bodenlos
TIME PERIOD: December 7, 1941 Engineer Aviation Battalion
SOURCE: Letter sent to the museum by Mr. Bodenlos, edited by Linda Hee
DATE RECEIVED: 16 June 2003
My name is Allen Bodenlos, son of Martha and Albert, born August 13, 1920, in Cleveland, Ohio. I had three sisters: Delora (Matthews), Elsie (Hakos), and Bernice (Thiel). I graduated from Strongsville High School, Strongsville, Ohio, in 1940. I enlisted in the regular Army on July 9, 1940 and after basic training first at March Air Force near Riverside, California, then again at Fort Ord, California (between Monterey and Salinas). In August, 1941, I was transferred to the 804th Engineer Battalion Aviation, Schofield Barracks, Oahu, Territory of Hawaii and attached to the 7th Air Force, Wheeler Air Base, next to Schofield.
Having been a bugler at Fort Ord, I was assigned “Bugler Master” of the battalion, and made corporal at Schofield. On December 6th, Saturday, 1941, our battalion commander decided the 804th should have a Drum and Bugle Corps and directed I go to Honolulu to buy the instruments needed. I was given overnight pass (liberty). I attended a “Big Band” dance band competition of all battleship dance bands at the Army-Navy YMCA in downtown Honolulu. The USS Arizona Band won first place.
The early morning of December 7th, Sunday, while shaving and getting ready for a happy liberty day, the announcement came over the loud speakers for all military personnel to “Report back to your units immediately.” Hearing the BOMB BOMBs, we thought maneuvers were going on, unusual for Sunday. So I went across the street to the Black Cat Café and Bar for a quick breakfast, then boarded the Schofield Shuttle Bus.
When we approached Pearl Harbor all hell was breaking loose. M.P.s (Military Police) stopped the bus and dragged the Japanese driver off. Right then the USS Arizona blew up, coming out of the water at the stern almost 90 degrees. The explosion was so tremendous, the ground where we were shook so violently, it almost knocked me over.
We had been ordered out of the bus in case it was hit, the Japanese planes were strafing anything moving at the harbor after dropping their bombs and torpedoes. Next to the Arizona, the USS Oklahoma rolled over and sank, next to it the USS California was burning and sank. The whole harbor was an inferno; smoke, fire, and explosions all over, sailors and marines trying to swim out of the oil-burning water to get to shore or rescue boats. We on the bus wanted to help, but the strafing was going on so intense. They flew so low you could see their smiling faces, even their teeth.
We were stranded through the second wave, finally got a driver to get back to Schofield. The 804th was already deployed at Wheeler, Hickam, Bellows, Ewa Marine Corps Air, and other air bases cleaning out damaged planes and repairing the airfields, while the Japanese planes were still bombing and strafing. None of the 804th soldiers were killed, but several were injured. The 804th was the first ground combat forces in action that morning, 70 minutes after the first attack and received the highest commendation and citation. The only other outfit receiving a similar award was a unit in the Philippines that day.
I was assigned a carrier, riding on a motorcycle to deliver messages from the command post to the various airfields. There was no sleep from Saturday, December 6th ‘til Tuesday morning, December 9th, when I finally was able to lie down, totally exhausted for some needed sleep.
The USS Arizona was exploding and burning two days after being hit, its over 1,000 dead below. Rumors were that the Japanese were invading the windward side of Oahu and anything that moved in the dark was shot at. No invasion came. On that fateful morning, December 7th, 1941, 7 battleships, 3 cruisers, 3 destroyers, 1 mine craft, 5 auxiliaries were destroyed, sunk, or damaged. 169 Navy and Army Air Corps planes destroyed and 159 damaged. Personnel casualties killed and wounded: Navy 2718, Army 582, Marines 178, and civilians 103 for a total of 2403 killed and 1178 wounded.
Today the battleship Arizona, shattered and rusting, still sits on the bottom of Pearl Harbor, her crew within. A memorial straddles her broken hull, a mute testimony to that sunny Sunday morning, December 7th, 1941.
Remember Pearl Harbor and ALL wars; Keep America strong.
Memoirs of Allen Bodenlos from that fateful morning December 7th
Carnation Chapter 3 , 191 at 7:55 a.m.
Pearl Harbor Survivors Assn.
San Diego, CA
NAME : James Albert Boling
TIME PERIOD: December 7, 1941 Infantry
SOURCE: Letter from Mr. Boling
DATE RECEIVED: April 1998
James Albert Boling, Born December 31, 1920 in Greenville, South Carolina. Enlisted in the Army September 5, 1940, discharged June 29, 1945. Recruit training at Schofield Barracks, Oahu, Territory of Hawaii, U.S.A. Served in the 27th Infantry Wolfhounds. Served 4 years, 9 months and 24 days without furlough.
On December 7, 1941, at 6:30 a.m. I was trying to find the person who had been taking my Honolulu Advertiser. I heard the first bombs at 7:55 and forgot all about my newspaper. I drove a truck for the next 8 days, helping to fortify vital installations in the Honolulu Subsector.
While serving in the Army I was in battles at Pearl Harbor, Guadalcanal, New Georgia, Arundel Island, Northern Solomons, and Southern Philippine islands. I also had the pleasurable duty of assignment to drive M.A. Mitscher, Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy, Commander Solomons.
I was awarded the American Defense Service Medal with 1 Bronze Service Star, Asiatic Pacific Theatre Campaign Medal with 4 Bronze Service Stars, World War II Victory Medal, Philippine Liberation Ribbon with 1 Bronze Star, Good Conduct Medal, Combat Infantry man Badge, Bronze Arrowhead, Philippine Presidential Unit Citation Badge and the Bronze Star Medal.
After discharged I married Gloria Grice. We have three children and five grandchildren. I am a sales representative and live in Greenville, South Carolina.
NAME: Amos E. Brickner, Cpl.
TIME PERIOD: December 7, 1941 Infantry
SOURCE: Account written by Mr. Brickner when he made a donation to the museum.
DATE RECEIVED: 1986
The beginning of the Attack on Pearl Harbor.
I, Amos E. Brickner, was a corporal in the United States Army stationed at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii with Co. D, 27th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division. On the 27th Day of November the first battalion of the 27th Infantry left Schofield Barracks to take up Bivouac in back of the Roosevelt High School in downtown Honolulu. From there, the outfit was split up and took up anti-sabotage and beach positions on the Island. These positions were in our zone of defense of the Islands. Myself and 8 men under my control took up our anti-sabotage position which was the telephone exchange at Kalike(?), Hawaii. This was on the outside of Honolulu going towards Pearl Harbor. This position was one of the most important posts on the Island because the lines coming and going came into this post from Pearl Harbor-Hickam Field Air Base-Ft. Shafter HQ for all army troops on the Island. Plus Kaneohe Bay Naval Air Station on the North Shore.
On the morning of the attack on Pearl Harbor I saw the planes coming down over Pearl Harbor and could see the puff balls that the guns on the ships were sending up. I said to some of my men who were outside at the time that this was a dumb day to have maneuvers. But one of my men had the radio on and said the Japanese were bombing Pearl Harbor and Hickam Field which was about 10 miles from my position. My outfit moved about 5 times in the next 3 days and we also changed positions, too. One time we rode in a ¾ ton truck and patrolled from Ft. Shafter to Waikiki Beach and back. I do not know any of the men who were with me at the telephone exchange or when I was on patrol. I left the regiment to go to the hospital and I was to go with the 161st Infantry but I was ordered back to the Hospital and when I came out I was sent to the 19th infantry for reassignment but I did not stay there. I was put on a task force going to Christmas Island with 102nd Infantry. Left there in 1943, went to Palmyra Island. We all left there in 1944. Arrived back in Hawaii. I left Hawaii for reassignment in Dec. 1944.
NAME: Bob Bush
UNIT: father was in 35th
TIME PERIOD: Dec. 7, 1941 Infantry Regiment
SOURCE: An account sent by Mr. Bush’s daughter
DATE RECEIVED: 13 December 2007
My name is Bob Bush and I was born at Schofield Barracks in 1927 while my father was stationed there. In 1941 my father, Lt. Col. Newton G. Bush, was again assigned to Schofield as supply officer for the 35th Infantry Regiment. After December 7th my father was put in command of the 298th Infantry Regiment which was comprised of the activated Hawaiian National Guard. The 298th spent most of the war years on the British Solomon Islands.
My story starts at Schofield’s Soldiers Chapel on Sunday morning December 7th. I am now age 14 and an altar server. After Sunday mass as I stood in the church yard, a group of planes flying low from the direction of Kolekole Pass flew overhead. Watching the planes fly toward Wheeler I saw the bombs drop, could hear the explosions, and saw the dark black smoke rising. The planes then circled overhead strafing mostly the Wheeler Field Area.
Upon returning home I found that the table was set for breakfast, but the rest of my family had left. Since I was a boy scout I thought I might be of some help, so walked with a friend to Wheeler Field. Upon arrival there we saw a building engulfed in flames. We had to cover our faces from the heat although we stood across a boulevard away. We could hear ammo going off in other buildings. Ambulances were running from the airfield to the hospital at Schofield. We passed a spot on the road that had a puddle of blood.
The question we asked ourselves was as to where our planes were. Only a few got off the ground from other air strips. One pilot was soon to become a leading air ace named Col. Francis Gabreski, known by his friends as Gabby. Gabby married my cousin Kay who was living with our family at this time.
That evening the civilians living at Schofield were evacuated in Army trucks to civilian areas of Honolulu. I rode next to the driver and as we passed near Pearl Harbor saw the ships still burning and tracer bullets lighting up the sky. We had no idea of the gravity of what had happened. We slept that night on the floor of a school and the next day found a place to say with friends in town. After a few days we returned to Schofield and were eventually sent back to the Mainland by ship.
My first return visit to Hawaii was in 1997, almost 50 years later. To my pleasant surprise the Soldiers Chapel, now a national landmark, looked exactly the same except for a small tree in the yard that had grown quite tall. During this visit I left some things at the Tropic Lightning Museum that my mother had saved from their tour of duty in 1927 with the 21st Inf. Finally taking a ride up to Kolekole Pass and seeing the big rock that we played on as children really brought back many memories.
NAME : James D. Campbell, III
UNIT: Father was Captain James D. Campbell II, Army Air Corps
TIME PERIOD: November 1940 to December 1941
SOURCE: Letter sent by Mr. Campbell
DATE RECEIVED: 29 August, 2001
My Dad, Captain James D. Campbell II, received orders for active duty in Hawaii with the US Army Air Corps on November 5, 1940. We sailed on the United States Army Transport Republic from the US Army Port of Embarkation in Brooklyn, NY, on November 23, 1940. I learned that the “Republic” had been a German ship “Vaterland” which the US received as part of the war reparations from Germany after World War I.
Our course was south through the Caribbean Sea, through the Panama Canal, then up the west coast of Mexico to San Francisco, then west to Honolulu, T.H. The USAT Republic arrived in Honolulu on Christmas Eve, 1940. That trip was a tremendous experience to a boy who turned fifteen somewhere in between the Panama Canal Zone and California! We moved into temporary quarters at Hickam Field until our new quarters were finished at the corner of Fenander Avenue and Frutchey Road, Wheeler Field, in March 1941.
In March 1941, I resumed my high school education at Leilehua High School, which was then located in a triangle formed by Wheeler Field commissioned officers quarters, the noncommissioned officers quarters and Wahiawa Road. I had started building model airplanes in 1935 and had become quite an aviation enthusiast before we moved to the Wheeler Army Air Field. I built my first gas powered model in 1941 with an engine I ordered by mail from the Mainland. The plane was an A J Walker “FIREBALL” and was flown at the end of control wires that gave the “pilot” the ability to do loops, climbs and dives as the plane flew around him in a 120 degree circle. Someone at Wheeler started a model airplane club and young and old “pilots” came from all over the island to fly at the east end of the airfield near Wright Gate.
As a result of my interest in flying I soon learned how every airplane based at Wheeler Field sounded. I could tell the difference in engine and propeller sounds of the Boeing P-26, North American AT-6, Curtiss-Wright P-36, Curtiss-Wright P-40, BT-2 basic trainer, Stearman P.T.-17, North American 0-47 and the Douglas A-20.
In May of 1941 during the dedication of Wheeler Field the newly arrived P-40s were flown past the crowd at the baseball diamond in front of Wheeler Field headquarters. As the planes flew past only 100 feet high, the first plane, flown by a squadron commander, dipped his wing slightly, the number two plane tipped his wings farther, and the number three plane did a slow roll! The fourth plane and following planes merely dipped their wings slightly. My Dad reported to me that the pilot who was flying number three was asked to explain the dangerous maneuver. His explanation was that he saw number two start to roll and number two in front of him looked like he was going to roll and he did not have time to see that number one had only dipped his wings. By then he was into the roll and had to finish. Rumor placed Lt. Welch in the cockpit of plane number three!
During the summer of 1941 there were several aerobatic events which took place at Wheeler Field. One of our dashing young pilots decided to show off his flying skills by flying through one of the hangars along hangar row! The punishment must have been impressive but not published. After the pilots had gotten familiar with the performance of the new P-40s, they decided to stage a comparative performance demonstration. A Boeing P-26, a Curtiss-Wright P-36, and a Curtiss-Wright P-40 were lined up at the western end of the field and at a signal the three started their takeoff roll. The P-26 very quickly left the ground and climbed at a steep angle. The P-36 left the ground a few yards further down the field and climbed at a shallower angle. The P-40 left the ground halfway down the field and climbed at a very shallow angle. So much for the new technology! Shortly after that demonstration, it was told that Lt. George Welch made the suggestion that with a “P-26 and a broom” he could sweep any German Messerschmit fighter out of the sky. Based on his record several months later against the Japanese Air Force, he might have been capable of doing it!
My grandmother, Else K. Campbell, arrived in Honolulu, T.H., November 17, 1941 on the Matson liner SS Mariposa. Her first words when she got off the ship were “Don’t you know we will be at war with Japan within a month?”
In late November, a war warning had been received by Wheeler Field staff and I overheard my dad talking on the phone with someone about machine guns. He was “ticked” enough that he forgot I wasn’t supposed to hear defense strategy. He told me that he had requested several .50 caliber machine guns to be stationed around the perimeter of the field and that the Ordnance Officer refused his request. The Ordnance Officer refused to release the guns for field use because they might be stolen or get rusty in the field positions. My Dad did finally get one .50 caliber machine gun which he had positioned on the flat roof of the Wheeler Field Fire House. It was the only weapon at Wheeler Field ready to go into action on the morning of December 7, 1941.
November 30, 1941: Early Sunday morning, the US Navy and Marines staged a mock air attack on Wheeler Field which got the attention of residents. As soon as the stars on the wings were seen, everyone relaxed to watch the air show. It only lasted long enough for one pass by each of the approximately twenty F3Fs, F4Fs, and SBDs.
December 6, 1941: During the evening the pilots of one squadron had an impromptu party at the bachelor officer quarters at the west end of Fernandez Avenue. The party broke up after one of the pilots attempted to shoot down a model airplane in his quarters with a .45 cal. pistol! The promised disciplinary action never happened!
December 7, 1941, 0755, Sunday morning: I heard the sounds of unfamiliar planes flying low over our house, punctuated by the sound of machine gun fire! At first I thought the US Navy was playing games this time with blanks in their guns. I sat up in my bed to see what was happening. My second floor bedroom was high enough that I could see over the single story officer’s quarters between our house and the airfield. I saw what looked like a big wooden warehouse rise up in the air and disintegrate! WWII was underway for the Campbell family!
0800: The only phone we had was in the living room on the first floor of our quarters. Mother was already in the kitchen preparing breakfast, and the sounds of things happening alerted my Dad to answer the phone. He came downstairs wearing only his pajama bottoms to answer the phone and yelled “I’m on my way!”
0810: By this time I had gotten dressed and was standing by for “orders.” Dad told me to get the luggage our of the storage room, which was in the middle of the building and to line the room with mattresses, and get my Grandmother and Mother in the protected area until the raid was over. My Grandmother would not come to the protected area until she had finished her bath, had cleaned the tub and was “presentable!” Fortunately, none of the machine gun bullets penetrated the brick walls and upper floors of the house. My dad jumped in his new Dodge and drove away to his duty station. I wondered if he made much of a target for the Jap planes driving a bright shiny black car. By now the raid was in full activity and I didn’t know if I would ever see him again!
1700: My Grandmother , Mother and I were instructed to go to the Officers Club where we were to be put on a bus and evacuated to one of the Honolulu schools. We were delivered to the school and slept on the floor of the school that night. I have very little recollection of the next five days. Everything was a blur of changes, new locations, questions—and no answers. We were assigned to a wealthy resident who lived near the Punchbowl that week.
December 13, 1941: We finally returned to Wheeler Field during the early evening. We were not permitted to stay in the Wheeler Field quarters during the nights because there were so many untrained, undisciplined guards firing at everything that moved around the airfield. We stayed with Doctor and Mrs. Bloemendaal in the Schofield Barracks Officers Quarters area until we departed for the ship to the Mainland.
December 15, 1941: The Schofield Barracks Hospital was one of the hospitals to receive wounded soldiers and sailors from all over the island. There were too few nurses and doctors to care for the number of wounded, so the hospital asked for teenage volunteers to assist in the “chores.” The nurses had me carrying “ducks” and bedpans all over the wards to replace and dump them as requested. Before we could take care of one “load,” the nurses had two more requests. There were not enough teenage military brats to take care of everything that had to be done helping the nurses.
December 25, 1941: We said our “Goodbyes” to my Dad and got on the bus which took us to the Matson liner SS Monterey. We departed Honolulu, T.H., in the evening of December 26, 1941 headed east to San Francisco. We arrived in Frisco on December 31, 1941, and boarded a train for our home on the East Coast on New Year’s Day.
NAME : Ruth K Campbell
UNIT: Wife of Captain James D. Campbell, II
TIME PERIOD: December 1941
SOURCE: Copy of letter written Jan. 1942, provided by her son, James Campbell III
DATE RECEIVED: 17 August, 2001
We did not live at Schofield Barracks. We were at Hickam Field from Jan. to March of 1941. In March we moved to Wheeler Field when our house was ready for us. I was in the kitchen peeling our morning pineapple for breakfast when a plane with a big red ball went past my window. Before I could call Jim, the bang of the barracks sounded—so he knew what was happening. He got into his car and was on his way.
I was trying to get his mother out of the bathroom to a shelter my son and I had rigged with trunks and Army cots and mattresses to shield us from machine gun bullets fired at the house. She had to clean the tub first so we were all exposed to the risk. She did come out before the second round of planes went over. We lived at the north edge of the field and they came in from the north.
We did not see Jim again for 5 days. We were told at 5 p.m. to go to the Officers Club to be evacuated—not told where—but buses took us to Honolulu schools where we sat in schoolrooms until morning. Red Cross was on hand then and mothers of school students had come to the cafeteria and made breakfast for all of us from Wheeler and Schofield Barracks. The mothers back of the food to serve us were all Japanese. They were as scared as we were.
The Red Cross had asked citizens of Honolulu to take us in and by 9 o’clock Monday morning had places for us Air Force and Army refugees. Jim found out on Friday where we were and phoned us he was OK and asked when we were coming home. The phone went dead and I didn’t hear his next words “to pack.”
I took it for granted the coast was clear, so arranged to be taken home to Wheeler on Saturday. We got home about 10 a.m. and a phone number was there for me to call. The car which took us there returned to Honolulu. Jim came up soon after I called and his first works—after the greeting hugs, etc. were “How are you getting back to Honolulu?” We could stay in our quarters by day but had to get out for nights.
Then later in the day word came that if you had a friend at Schofield with room for you, you could stay there if the Army had dug a trench in the lawn you could jump in. I had a friend and we slept there until word came we would be evacuated about December 24. Word came from Headquarters that boys 16 and over were needed at Schofield Hospital so our son, Jim, went there and stayed there until we were ready to leave. I packed our stuff for going home and we got on our ship December 25 but didn’t sail until December 26. We had been in Hawaii a year and a day. This is enough for now. There is a lot more that happened to us and me especially. Some day, when I can see better, I’ll finish the trip.