Remembering the Pearl Harbor Attack
On Dec. 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy launched a surprise military attack on the U.S. naval base at Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor. Eight U.S. battleships were damaged, and four were sunk. One hundred eighty-eight U.S. aircraft were destroyed. Two thousand four hundred two Americans were killed and more than 1,000 were wounded. The attack shocked Americans, and prompted the U.S. entry into World War II, with a declaration of war on Japan announced the following day.
Around Hawaii, residents feared further Japanese attacks. On Molokai, the community experienced black-outs, drills and food rationing. In honor of Pearl Harbor Day this Friday, the Dispatch asked Molokai residents to share memories of reactions on the day of the attack and life in the months that followed.
When the Japanese attached Pearl Harbor, it was feared they might invade the islands. That morning, the Molokai Chief of Police called my father-in-law, Waldemar Duvauchelle of Pukoo, and said “Weli, the Japanese have bombed Pearl Harbor. Take your rifle and go down to Kamalo Wharf and keep watch!”
Waldemar went, and while he was gone his wife Amoy, took the children and walked high up the mountain behind the house and tried to hide until they saw him come home.
Luckily, there was no invasion.
My dad, who owned Misaki’s store, used to deliver groceries to the east end. I was in the seventh grade. We were all getting ready to deliver, and just before we left, in the back of the store, we heard the news that Pearl Harbor was attacked. My parents were shocked and I was scared they would bomb us. We finished our delivery to the east end and came home as soon as we could.
For several months, we lived in fear. I went to Kaunakakai School and there was a big kiawe tree near the swings. Whenever the sirens went off, we would run to the tree to hide. At school, we had to carry gas masks and we had to practice wearing them. We also had to black out our home. My brother went out to patrol streets to make sure no one’s lights were on. We still did deliveries and daily things, but we came home early.
When the attack happened, my dad was working in the garden that he made in the gulch above the Kualapu`u tank. I was almost 14 at the time. My mom said, “You better go tell him,” so I ran all the way up to the gulch to warn him. We had a short wave radio and my brother was listening to that. That very night, we had a black out.
We all couldn’t go out of the house after 8 at night. We had a Portuguese man, a retired cop, who would patrol the village. We had food rationing but there were things that you had to buy, like eggplant. I used to hate eggplant.
My brother joined the 442nd Infantry. We worked hard for the war effort. The older kids in high school were recruited to work in the homestead fields to help harvest so we had food. We had military on our Molokai High campus — they would come and teach upper grades how to march. Our education was cut into by the war effort. But we did alright because we’re still here!