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Pearl Harbor:
Asian Americans Witness
Air Raid on December 7th, 1941 (Pt 1)

Written by
Burt Takeuchi
(Nihonmachi Outreach Committee)

ON DEC. 7th, 1941 - Pearl Harbor (Oahu) was attacked by Imperial Japanese Naval forces at about 7:55 A.M. in the morning. Over 33% of Hawaii's population was of Japanese ancestry who lived with their Filipino, Native Hawaiian, Chinese, Korean, and white (Haole) neighbors. Much of the skilled labor, commercial fishing,and
Special Thanks
To the Interviewees

Chip Chippetta VFW
Martha Nakayama
Inazu Noda
Florence Takeda

Special Help:
Reiko Nakayama
Prof Ronald Takaki
Prof Masao Suzuki
Henry Wadahara VFW

cannery work were done by Japanese American's. When the bombs fell on Pearl Harbor many locals were collateral casualties in the raid. Most of the collateral casualties were caused by stray US Navy 3" anti aircraft (AA) shells or 50 caliber anti aircraft rounds that fell into the local neighborhoods surrounding Pearl Harbor. "Civilians from Waikiki to Pearl City were killed by exploding anti aircraft munitions (friendly fire)." Asian Americans were among the first US citizens and residents casualties when America was thrust into WW2.

CHIP CHIAPETTA (AGE 17) grew up in the Kalihi district along with 50 other Japanese American families on Oahu . Unlike many whites on the island he got along very well with his Japanese American neighbors. He recalled that when someone's mother was sick the other neighbors would offer to "bring food and help take care of the kids till they got better". "No one had locks on their doors or windows".

ON DEC. 7th 1941 AT 7:50 IN THE MORNING, Chip was outside of his aunts house (across Pearl Harbor) when he noticed a formation of planes droning in from a distance. Japanese torpedo planes made their runs on the USS Arizona and several other ships at Pearl Harbor. After the torpedoes made their mark, Chip noticed "big holes" in the battleships hulls. At first he thought it was a US Navy exercise until he saw a Japanese attack plane zoom over him with the Rising Sun insignia on its wings. Chip remembered a face of a Japanese rear gunner peering down at him as the plane flew past. Suddenly a US Navy 3" AA shell burst right over head and a piece of shrapnel fell on his neck; "man it was hot!" said Chip.

From the Pearl Harbor Battle

Yaeko Lillian Oda, 6
Francisco Tacderan, 34

John Kalauwae Adams, 18
Joseph Kanehoa Adams, 50
Nancy Masako Arakaki, 8
Patrick Kahamokupuni Chong, 30
Matilda Kaliko Faufata, 12
Emma Gonsalves, 34
Ai Harada, 54
Kisa Hatate, 41
Fred Masayoshi Higa, 21
Jackie Yoneto Hirasaki, 8
Jitsuo Hirasaki, 48
Robert Yoshito Hirasaki, 3
Shirley Kinue Hirasaki, 2
Paul S. Inamine, 19
Robert Seiko Izumi, 25
David Kahookele, 23
Edward Koichi Kondo, 19
Peter Souza Lopes, 33
George Jay Manganelli, 14
Joseph McCabe, Sr., 43
Masayoshi Nagamine, 27
Frank Ohashi, 29
Hayako Ohta, 19
Janet Yumiko Ohta, 3 months
Kiyoko Ohta, 21
Barbara June Ornellas, 8
Gertrude Ornellas, 16
James Takao Takefuji, 20
Yoshio Tokusato, 19
Hisao Uyeno, 20
Alice White, 42
Eunice Wilson, 7 months

HE LATER SAW THE USS ARIZONA struck by a bomb from a Japanese level bomber. The Arizona blew up and went down to the bottom. Another Japanese plane was shot down and its pilot bailed out onto some railroad tracks near the house. 50 cal anti aircraft bullets from across the bay shot up the Japanese pilot as the bullets ricochet off the tracks. Chip and his family hid in the sugar cane field. His aunt screamed" keep your head down!" Later in the attack a few American fighter planes got airborne and attacked some of the Japanese bombers. Some Japanese bombers ditched their bombs to escape ( bombs slow the planes airspeed) but "they landed into the local market area but nobody was hurt". Chip recalled he wasn't frightened "I was just curious".

MANY JAPANESE AMERICAN FAMILITIES were afraid to come out of their homes. Chip described that "they felt ashamed that Japan attacked". "I felt bad because to think our mother country had attached my country" one witness mentioned.

CHIP RECALLED the young Nisei (second generation Japanese Americans) men were "cussing mad" and signed up for the Army at the first opportunity. (10,000 JA's initially volunteered for the 442nd. The US Army accepted about 2000)

"ALMOST 8 O CLOCK" when Inazu Noda was eating breakfast when he heard " a big bombardment". Everybody initially "thought it was the US Army or Navy testing stuff". From the main highway outside Honolulu one could hear Japanese aircraft bombing Pearl Harbor. Plumes of smoke were seen from some 6 miles away in Honolulu." Smoke was coming from all over." Noda was walking into Honolulu on Sheridan Avenue and noticed US Army traffic was rushing both ways. On the radio you could hear the broadcast that Japanese planes were bombing Pearl Harbor but, " he couldn't believe it. "

THEN "WHAAAANNGGGGG!" A 3" AA shell from Pearl Harbor crashed onto a tin roof of a building then bounced into the street some 10ft away from Noda. The fuse didn't go off or it was maybe a dud. (many 3" AA shells from the USN ships were not properly calibrated to detonate at the right altitudes so they fell into the towns causing many casualties. ) "Some dumb guy, about 25-26 year old, ran over to that smoldering shell and picked it up as a souvenir." The souvenir hunter burned his hands severely. "What a dumb thing to do! "said Noda.

From the Pearl Harbor Battle

John Rodgers Airport
Robert H. Tyce, 38

Kaneohe Bay Naval Air Station
Kamiko Kookano, 35
Isaac William Lee, 21

Pearl City
Rowena Kamohaulani Foster, 3

Chip Soon Kim, 66
Richard Masaru Soma, 22

Tomoso Kimura, 19

THE ATTACK seemed to last about 1-2 hours long according to Noda. Just then a Japanese plane zoomed right over him and he noticed the red "Hinomaru insignia (Rising sun) on the wing tips". "Jesus what's the matter with these guys." first thinking it was an US Army plane. Noda picked some fast food at a diner and then rushed home. There he noticed one of his Japanese neighbors, "she was crying like anything". Noda learned that a young Japanese American girl was killed that day.

THE NEXT DAY, Noda returned to work as a curator in a local museums Anthropology department. On a street car ride into Honolulu he noticed "everybody was talking about the war". Two Haole (white) women glared at Noda as if "they wanted to kill him". He heard them mutter "You Jap SOB". Noda was angry , " What the Hell you look at me that way, I'm an American!" Noda, along with some 1300 other Hawaiian Japanese Americans were arrested and then sent to a former immigration complex called Sand Island. They were surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards similar to concentration camps on the mainland (Executive Order 9006).

Click HERE to go to Part 2.

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