Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Happy Pearl Harbor Day, or, What's Your Problem?

The photos are of my father-in-law, Bill Stovall, who happened to be at Pearl Harbor on his ship, the destroyer Mugford, December 7, 1941. Very pleasant day, he recalled, until about 7:55 am.

They had just put in to the dock after being at sea and expected to stay in the harbor for a time. When the Japs attacked they had to quickly put the ship into some kind of running condition and get the Gehenna out of Pearl. Part of his diary for that day read: "PM at sea 1400; 0750 Japs started bombing us...stayed at battle stations all night."
The ship's log from that day showed that about this time that morning they were able to start loading fuel. The ship finally got underway about noon. He must have had a moment after they cleared the harbor entrance to write a few lines in his diary.

When asked about it, Bill would generally comment about how it was mass confusion. Their gunners shot down a few of planes. The Mugford was in a dock across from Ford Island and battleship row. If the sailors had a chance that morning to stand and watch things they couldn't have had a much better vantage point. Waves and formations Jap planes flew overhead and on both sides towards the big ships. The ship's log noted the spectacular explosion of the Shaw along with the destruction of the more famous battleships Arizona, West Virginia, and Oklahoma ("turned turtle" wrote the officer keeping the log).

The Mugford spent the rest of the month at sea with meager rations. They had baloney sandwiches for Christmas, recalled Bill.

When he left Como, Mississippi a few years earlier I don't think Bill had Pearl Harbor, the Coral Sea, Leyte Gulf, and kamikaze attacks in mind.

Now...what's your problem today?

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