"Air Raid, Pearl Harbor!
This is no drill!"


How the duck got its goose cooked

This is the story of my father's (WOI's) experiences in and around Pearl Harbor on 7 and 8 December, 1941. As told to me (WGI) on 13 January 1996. I have done some editing and rearranging, to improve the readability and keep things in sequence. - WGI

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.

If you have the time, please stop by my guest book page and let me know what you think of my web pages.

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 

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 

      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 

WGI:  Probably the magazines going.

WOI:  I don't know what it was but it was some sort of a 

      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 

      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 

      He said, "Can you find me some air compressors?"

      I said, "Yeah, I've got plenty of air compressors."

      "And jack-hammers."


      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 

      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 -- 

      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 

      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.
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