How the duck got its goose cooked
Us Weekly magazine in their 11-18 June, 2001 issue, published a romanticized extract of this story in their article "Pearl Harbor's Real Love Stories." I have a new web page that has the article along with foreward by both me and my sister, as well as other related material.
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WGI: Tell me about the famous pot roast that got ruined. WOI: Oh! That was December 7th. That wasn't a pot roast. That was a duck! WGI: A duck? I thought it was a pot roast! WOI: No, no. It was a duck. WGI: So what happened with the duck? WOI: The duck... I woke up about six o'clock in the morning, or 5:30 in the morning. I had a work shop down in the basement. I was [living in] Nuuanu Valley, where I had three levels [in a rented home]. WGI: This was before you built [a new home] at Kaneohe? WOI: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. We were living in Nuuanu Valley, just after we got to Hawaii. It was December 7th. Your mother had put on a roast duck, a Mandarin duck - all kinds of spices and everything, you know - special. We were planning on having that about one o'clock Sunday afternoon. I had called your mother out. I said, "Marg, come out here and look. They're going to hit this fellow if they don't watch out." Anti-aircraft was bursting all around the planes flying over. *We* didn't know what was going on. The radio was playing, just playing music. All at once they cut it off. Cut all the music off. There were a few minutes of silence. And then the announcer came on and said, "Hawaii has been sporadically attacked. Do not leave your homes. Keep off the streets. Everything is under control." So! We just sat there and listened. We didn't know who was attacking. We imagined it was the Japanese. Just about that time, up the valley came a horizontal shell. A 5 inch shell, I found out later. From a horizontal gun in the Honolulu docks. It was our own shell! WGI: What goes up, comes down. WOI: Yeah. It came screaming up the valley, and hit a house in Dowsett Highlands and blew it all to pieces! I thought, "Oh my God, there's something wrong here now, for sure!" Then the radio turned to playing church hymns. We listened patiently for 5 or 10 minutes. No, no, not that long, 3 to 5 minutes. Then it said "All Pearl Harbor personnel report to your emergency stations." So I jumped in the car, and Marg jumped in the car with me and I drove down Lima Road, and just got onto Nuuanu Ave. then I realized, they hadn't ordered her into the Harbor. She worked at Hickam Field. I said, "You can't go. I'll turn around and take you back." So I turned around and took her back. That was the smartest thing I ever did, not knowing it was the thing to do. I got onto Kamehameha Highway, leading into Pearl Harbor. The Japanese had just strafed the highway. Cars were peeled off to each side and burning. They were using incendiary bullets, I guess. Cars were burning on either side, and I just blithely went right through. Nobody shot at me or anything else. I got into Kamehameha Housing gate to Pearl Harbor. I went off and parked my car in behind one of these housing units. "Maybe I won't get it shot up." So, I parked it there and headed for the gate. Everything was just a turmoil! There was no security at the gate - nothing. I just went on in. As I was going in... There's a little grade, and I've been there since. Since then there has been a chain link fence built along side a lawn area. There were 3 or maybe 4 Japanese, I can't remember right now what it was, that were reporting the same as I was to their emergency stations. As it happened they got excited and started to run. They were just, oh, maybe fifty yards ahead of me. There was, I think it was, a Chief Boatswains Mate that had a Thompson's submachine gun. When they started to run, he just cut them down. I realized that they were not my men. So I didn't pay too much attention to it. But this Chief came up to me and said, "You didn't see a damn thing, did you?" I said, "No, I didn't..." WGI: You don't argue with a man with a Thompson's submachine gun in his hands! WOI: Hell, no! So I said, "No, I didn't see anything." That was the end of that episode. I got back into my emergency station, and by that time maybe 30, 35 men were milling around. "What'll I do? What'll I do? What'll I do?" I said "I don't know. I have no orders." I didn't know what to do. I said, "Just stand by. I'll see if we can't get some orders." There were Navy men walking around in their dress uniforms with their pants rolled up to about their knees. And they were doing the same thing I was, "What'll I do? What'll I do?" When I got into the harbor, it was burning from one. End. To. The. Other. Ford Island was just ablaze, or the waterfront of Ford Island was ablaze. The Meri [sp?] Point docks were ablaze. The newly excavated harbor at the cold storage building was the only thing that wasn't burning. As I got into the harbor, I was facing Ford Island, heading for the cold storage building, which was an uncompleted building at the time. It seemed like I couldn't do anything there, so I headed up to the officer's club. There was the mine layer, Ogallala, who had been earlier torpedoed and was capsized towards the dock. Japanese planes were coming in with a just torpedo strapped, or apparently just strapped on there, some way jury rigged. And they were launching these in the harbor. One came over and launched it right by the already capsized Ogallala. It acted just like a skid for the torpedo, and it spun up in the lawn by the officer's club. With the propeller still running! Everybody scurried, including me! I got in behind a gantry crane, in one of the legs of a gantry crane, with my nose stuck right in the "V" of that leg. Waiting for that thing to explode. Which it never did. So finally someone came by and disarmed this torpedo. That ended that situation. But I've never, have ever, seen such a terrible mess! When the Arizona blew I could almost swear that I could see daylight amidships when it went up. I was right by this gantry crane and there was just a terrific concussion after the explosion. There was just a "Whoomf! Whoomf! Whoomf!" Three times like that, you know. WGI: Probably the magazines going. WOI: I don't know what it was but it was some sort of a concussion. But it wasn't until 10 o'clock or 11 o'clock that I got orders to do something. Up to that time I was wandering around the harbor looking at what's happening. You'd see ships, Utah and all those battlewagons that were tied up along Ford Island, and see sailors trying to swim in the harbor, trying to get away. There was fire on top of the water, with the oil. You'd see a sailor swimming for all get out, you know, and going down below to get away from the fire. He'd come up two or three times for a bit. After a bit he wouldn't come up again. Terrible! The first direct order I got was from an Army Colonel, who had been ordered, or just on his own initiative, came into [our area.] So I asked him, "What can we do?" He said, "Well, how many men can you get together?" I said, "I can get as much as 60 men if I have to, and if they turn up." And, sure enough, I had that many men. He said, "Can you find me some air compressors?" I said, "Yeah, I've got plenty of air compressors." "And jack-hammers." "Yup!" So he put us to work, putting in anti-aircraft emplacements all around the perimeter of the harbor, and in strategic places. Ordinarily Navy regulations would be that I'd have to get a tractor to pull an air compressor from place to place. But that morning the fellows'd just get around the air compressor, and just push it from emplacement to emplacement. Dragging their hoses and jack-hammers with them. We were really doing real good! We got that complete and I turned back to my regular Navy bosses and they said that I should sand bag these two buildings that we had just completed. Sand bag the entrances and so on. They told us what to do and so on. I had a Japanese boy there, just maybe 18 years old. He said, "Mr. Bill, I'm ashamed of the Japanese, ashamed of the Japanese. They shouldn't do this." We got all the things sand bagged, and then we were put on a detail, on a fire watch on about a 5 acre supply dump that had all kinds of lumber and timber and stuff like that. We stayed there all evening. There came a wave of planes over. It turned out they were our own B-24s coming over, but everybody was shooting at 'em. There was a kid on an anti-aircraft gun right there. He said, "I don't know what I'm shooting at, but everyone else is shooting so I might as well shoot too! <chuckle> It was that disorganized. We weren't set afire, and about 3 o'clock [AM, 8 Dec.] a loudspeaker announced that all people that could leave their stations, go home and get something to eat and rest for a few hours. That puts us back to this duck situation. Marg had this duck cooking. We were supposed to eat about 1 o'clock. And here it was, maybe 3 or 4 in the morning, I don't remember. I went to look for my car, and I couldn't find my car in Makalapa [sp?] housing. I don't know why I couldn't find it. Maybe I was so excited and everything. I decided to jog down Kamehameha Highway and head to Nuuanu Valley. Just about then came a wave of airplanes overhead. I had my regular construction hard hat on. So I lay down in the ditch beside the highway whenever there seemed to be -- I guess it was just spent ammunition -- falling. It hit my hard hat - Bunk! Bunk! Bunk! I got to thinking, why the hell did I come to this place for, anyway?! Nobody forced me to come. I was thinking, boy, I made a crucial mistake here somehow or another! Anyway, I got home, got back to Nuuanu Valley. I got picked up, got a ride down Kamehameha Highway and trotted up Nuuanu Valley. Your mother met me at the door with a butcher's knife and a frying pan! <laughter> I said, "Where's the duck?" She said, "Burnt to a crisp!" I said, "Let's try to salvage some of it." So we did. We ate burnt duck! At about 4 in the morning! Both: <laughter> WOI: And she had cooked some fresh biscuits after I'd gotten home. We managed to get something to eat. I got a few hours sleep. Then I was ordered back into the harbor. From then on it was all down hill. We'd gotten back in there and were waiting for orders. It was about 11 o'clock in the morning and finally I got a navy commander, Lt. Commander Southwick. He said, "I want you to start building a communications center. Start it right here and go straight that way, and I'll tell you when to quit." He gave me a cross section of just a simple frame building, which had a wood floor, a roof, and side walls, and a few windows. We started out there, and man! You never saw men work like they did! I had a thousand feet of building built in no time! Finally Southwick came back. "Whoa! Whoa! Stop! Stop!" Both: <laughter> WOI: So we put an end bulkhead in the thing, and then he started moving equipment in there. After a while things kind of settled down. No more emergency work. But we got into various things, like fixing war rooms for Admiral Calhoun. WGI: Yeah, you've told me that story. WOI: Basically, that was my Pearl Harbor experience.Copyright © 1996 by William G. Innanen. All rights reserved.