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Thread: PEARL HARBOR DAY DEC 7th 1941

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    Member Float Pilot's Avatar
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    Default PEARL HARBOR DAY DEC 7th 1941

    Ok, aviation folks,

    1. Who engaged in the first aerial maneuvering against the attacking Japaneses aircraft?

    2. Why did the Navy order everyone to dye there white uniforms with coffee and wear thos instead of their issue blue dungarees?
    Floatplane,Tailwheel and Firearms Instructor- Dragonfly Aero
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    Lt. George Welch and Lt. Ken Taylor in P 40's from Wheeler. As to the coffee colored "khaki" dungarees I'm not sure. After 1941 the Navy allowed on station Chiefs and Officers to wear khaki on shore. I remember talking to a 82nd Airborne vet about where he was when he learned about Pearl Harbor. He was in my home town in eastern MT ranching and came to town with his friends to join up at the Post Office. There was such a long line they drove to the next town about 70 miles away and joined up there. It is a very important day to remember, one that I fear isn't being taught much to the next generations. My grandfather was already in the service at the time, but later joined the 101st airborne in '43. The are indeed the Greatest Generation. Thanks for starting this thread Float Pilot

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    Member AK-HUNT's Avatar
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    #1. There was a civilian (lawyer?) up in his private plane when the first Japs arrived. I think his airplane actually was shot. Anyway he maneuvered and landed alive.

    #2. No idea. Do tell.

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    Before the two P-40 pilots became airborne...
    One American out maneuvered the Japanese Fighters in a training aircraft

    22 year old CFI.... Cornelia Clark Fort

    Who later flew with the Womens Air Transport "The
    WAFS (Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron)" See photo below.



    Her words from a 1943 magazine article

    "At dawn that morning I drove from Waikiki to the
    John Rogers Civilian airport right next to Pearl Harbor,
    where I was a civilian pilot instructor. Shortly after
    six-thirty I began landing and take-off practice with my
    regular student. Coming in just before the last landing, I
    looked casually around and saw a military plane coming
    directly toward me. I jerked the controls away from my
    student and jammed the throttle wide open to pull above
    the oncoming plane. He passed so close under us that our
    celluloid windows rattled violently and I looked down to
    see what kind of plane it was.
    The painted red balls on the tops of the wings shone
    brightly in the sun. I looked again with complete and
    utter disbelief. Honolulu was familiar with the emblem of
    the Rising Sun on passenger ships but not on airplanes.
    I looked quickly at Pearl Harbor and my spine tingled
    when I saw billowing black smoke. Still I thought
    hollowly it might be some kind of coincidence or
    maneuvers, it might be, it must be. For surely, dear God .
    . .
    Then I looked way up and saw the formations of silver
    bombers riding in. Something detached itself from an
    airplane and came glistening down. My eyes followed it
    down, down and even with knowledge pounding in my
    mind, my heart turned convulsively when the bomb
    exploded in the middle of the harbor. I knew the air was
    not the place for my little baby airplane and I set about
    landing as quickly as ever I could. A few seconds later a
    shadow passed over me and simultaneously bullets
    spattered all around me.
    Suddenly that little wedge of sky above Hickam Field
    and Pearl Harbor was the busiest fullest piece of sky I
    ever saw.
    We counted anxiously as our little civilian planes came
    flying home to roost. Two never came back. They were
    washed ashore weeks later on the windward side of the
    island, bullet-riddled. Not a pretty way for the brave little
    yellow Cubs and their pilots to go down to death."


    As for the Coffee stained whites:

    There were a couple other training aircraft up that early morning so they cold use the cooler morning air. One student pilot was a US Navy enlisted man who was out on his first solo in a J-3 Cub when his plane was attacked by Japanese Fighters. I believe he was flying a Navy Base flying club airplane and as a result he was actually wearing a parachute. He was also wearing his issue blue dungarees since he had to report to work later that morning.
    After he bailed out and safely parachuted back to earth a few miles away, we was seen walking down a mountain road carrying his parachute over his shoulder.
    Several panicking people called into the base and reported that Japanese Paratroopers had landed and that they were dressed just like enlisted Navy personnel.
    So the Navy made a quick call out to all units to have sailors stain their whites with coffee so they were almost khaki in color. This was because many leaders thought that Navy troops would be fighting in the brushy hills if indeed the paratrooper story was true. So for a few days many Navy folks had crappy yellowish uniforms.

    On a side note about strained Navy Whites: This same order was relayed to the navy Bases in the Philippines. Although there is was really true. Hundreds of Navy troops were trapped on shore when their ships were sunk. They were formed into ad-hoc rifle companies under the command of what-ever type of officer could be found. The Navy troops were mostly wearing their whites when ion shore liberty, so Those were stained with coffee, plant leaves or whatever stain could be found.
    Later these units were thought by the Japanese top be special suicide units. They made more noise than the real Army units, and their uniforms had faded to a weird yellow color that actually made them stand out. So the Japanese field forces figured they were some sort of suicide decoy and stayed away from them.
    Floatplane,Tailwheel and Firearms Instructor- Dragonfly Aero
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    I'll be darned. If I'm ever on who wants to be a millionaire I'm putting you on one of the lifelines!

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    Member IndyCzar's Avatar
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    Having spent a few years Stationed just outside Pearl, (Barbers Point) flying all over the south Pacific while I was on active duty, I love WWII trivia...thanks for sharing the thoughts and Remembering the day and the "Greatest Generation"...Both my Dad and Uncle became participants in the enlistment drives followed by campaigns, One in Europe and the other in the Phillipines...

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    My grandpa was 37 when Pearl Harbor was attacked, he was working for John Deer as an experimental-design welder. He was passed over by the most branches due to his age, but the Navy finally took him as an instant E-5 (Second Class Petty Officer Motor Machinist Mate). He was medicalically discharged a couple years later and went back to work for John Deer who had a side contract to make Destroyer gun mounts for the 5 inch twin mounts.

    My dad had to wait until Jan 1945 when he turned 16. He was somehow able to get into the Army being a year underage and they promptly sent him off to the Pacific as part of the 7th Cavalry Regiment during their campaign on the Luzon Peninsula.

    My uncle had been a Marine all through the 1930s. He managed to get himself into trouble while assigned in China by trying to provoke some Japanese who, before we were in the war officially, had captured large areas of China. So he managed to get himself court marshalled for started a minor shoot-out with a Japanese garrison. So he went back into construction work as any farm boy would do, until Dec 1941
    Once Pearl harbor was attacked he tried to get back in the Marine Corp but they were still not nuts about his court marshal. So he joined the new Navy Sea-Bees in the spring of 1942. His brother who had been working as a cook on various large construction projects, also joined the Navy and ended up as a cook aboard a submarine stationed in the Pacific.
    Floatplane,Tailwheel and Firearms Instructor- Dragonfly Aero
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