Marines in World War II Commemorative Series
Suddenly Hurled into War
They Caught Us Flat-Footed
They're Kicking the Hell OUt of Pearl Harbor
Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Russel Fox
Major Harold C. Roberts
Tai Sing Loo
Special Subjects
Browning Machine Gune Drill on Board Ship
Antiaircraft Gun Fired to a Range of 14,500 Yards
Pearl Harbor Remembered

INFAMOUS DAY: Marines at Pearl Harbor
by Robert J. Cressman and J. Michael Wenger

Suddenly Hurled into War (continued)

Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Russel Fox

Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Russel Fox, USMC

Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Russel Fox, USMC, as the Division Marine Officer on the staff of Rear Admiral Isaac C. Kidd, Commander, Battleship Division One, was the most senior Marine officer to die on board Arizona on the morning of 7 December 1941. Fox had enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1916. For heroism in France on 4 October 1918, when he was a member of the 17th Company, Fifth Marines, he was awarded the Navy Cross. He also was decorated with the Army's Distinguished Service Cross and the French Croix de Guerre. Fox was commissioned in 1921 and later served in Nicaragua as well as China.

As the onslaught descended upon the battleships and the air station, Marine detachments hurried to their battle stations on board other ships elsewhere at Pearl. In the Navy Yard lay Argonne (AG-31), the flagship of the Base Force, the heavy cruisers New Orleans (CA-32) and San Francisco (CA-38), and the light cruisers Honolulu (CL-48), St. Louis (CL-49) and Helena (CL-50). To the northeast of For Island lay the light cruiser Phoenix (CL-43).

Although Utah was torpedoed and sunk at her berth early in the attack, her 14 Marines, on temporary duty at the 14th Naval District Rifle Range, found useful employment combating the enemy. The Fleet Machine Gun School lay on Oahu's south coast, west of the Pearl Harbor entrance channel, at Fort Weaver. The men stationed there, including several Marines on temporary duty from the carrier Enterprise and the battleships California and Pennsylvania, sprang to action at the first sounds of war. Working with the men from the Rifle Range, all hands set up and mounted guns, and broke out and belted ammunition between 0755 and 0810. All those present at the range were issued pistols or rifles from the facility's armory.

Soon after the raid began, Platoon Sergeant Harold G. Edwards set about securing the camp against any incursion the Japanese might attempt from the landward side, and also supervised the emplacement of machine guns along the beach. lieutenant (j.g.) Roy R. Nelson, the officer in charge of the Rifle Range, remembered the many occasions when Captain Frank M. Reinecke, commanding officer of Utah's Marine detachment and the senior instructor at the Fleet Machine Gun School (and, as his Naval Academy classmates remembered, quite a conversationalist), had maintained that the school's weapons would be a great asset if anybody ever attacked Hawaii. By 0810, Reinecke's gunners stood ready to prove the point and soon engaged the enemy — most likely torpedo planes clearing Pearl Harbor or high-level bombers approaching from the south. Nearby Army units, perhaps alerted by the Marines' fire, opened up soon thereafter. Unfortunately, the eager gunners succeeded in downing one of two SBDs from Enterprise that were attempting to reach Hickam Field. An Army crash boat, fortunately, rescued the pilot and his wounded passenger soon thereafter.

On board Argonne, meanwhile, alongside 1010 Dock, her Marines manned her starboard 3-inch/23 battery and her machine guns. Commander Fred W. Connor, the ship's commanding officer, later credited Corporal Alfred Schlag with shooting down one Japanese plane as it headed for Battleship Row.

When the attack began, Helena lay moored alongside 1010 Dock, the venerable minelayer Oglala (CM-3) outboard. A signalman, standing watch on the light cruiser's signal bridge at 0757 identified the planes over Ford Island as Japanese, and the ship went to general quarters. Before she could fire a shot in her own defense, however, one 800-kilogram torpedo barreled into her starboard side about a minute after the general alarm had begun summoning her men to their battle stations. The explosion vented up from the forward engine room through the hatch and passageways, catching many of the crew running to their stations, and started fires on the third deck. Platoon Sergeant Robert W. Teague, Privates First Class Paul F. Huebner, Jr.
and George E. Johnson, and Private Lester A. Morris were all severely burned. Johnson later died.

common grave
Beneath a leaden sky on 8 December 1941, Marines at NAS Kaneohe Bay fire a volley over the common grave of 15 officers and men killed during the Japanese raid the previous day. Note sandbagged position atop the sandy rise at right. National Archives Photo 80-G-32854

To the southeast, New Orleans lay across the pier from her sister ship San Francisco. The former went to general quarters soon after enemy planes had been sighted dive-bombing Ford Island around 0757. At 08805, as several low-flying torpedo planes roared by, bound for Battleship Row, Marine sentries on the fantail opened fire with rifles and .45s. New Orleans' men, meanwhile, so swiftly manned the 1.1-inch/75 quads, and .50-caliber machine guns, under the direction of Captain William R. Collins, the commanding officer of the ship's Marine detachment, that the ship actually managed to shoot at torpedo planes passing her stern. San Francisco, however, under major overhaul with neither operative armament nor major caliber ammunition on board, was thus restricted to having her men fire small arms at whatever Japanese planes came within range. Some of her crew, though, hurried over to New Orleans, which was near-missed by one bomb, and helped man her 5-inchers.

St. Louis, outboard of Honolulu, went to general quarters at 0757 and opened fire with her 1.1 quadruple mounted antiaircraft and .50-caliber machine gun batteries, and after getting her 5-inch mounts in commission by 0830 — although without power in train — she hauled in her lines at 0847 and got underway at 0831. With all 5-inchers in full commission by 0947, she proceeded to sea, passing the channel entrance buoys abeam around 1000. Honolulu, damaged by a near miss from a bomb, remained moored at her berth throughout the action.

Phoenix, moored by herself in berth C-6 in Pearl Harbor, to the northeast of Ford Island, noted the attacking planes at 0755 and went to general quarters. Her machine gun battery opened fire at 0810 on the attacking planes as they came within range; her antiaircraft battery five minutes later. Ultimately, after two false starts (where she had gotten underway and left her berth only to see sortie signals cancelled each time) Phoenix cleared the harbor later that day and put to sea.

For at least one Marine, though, the day's adventure was not over when the Japanese planes departed. Search flights took off from Ford Island, pilots taking up utility aircraft with scratch crews, to look for the enemy carriers which had launched the raid. Mustered at the naval air station on Ford Island, Oklahoma's Sergeant Hailey, still clad in his oil-soaked underwear, volunteered to go up in a plane that was leaving on a search mission at around 1130. He remained aloft in the plane, armed with a rifle, for some five hours.

After the attacking planes had retired, the grim business of cleaning up and getting on with the war had to be undertaken. Muster had to be taken to determine who was missing, who was wounded, who lay dead. Men sought out their friends and shipmates. First Lieutenant Cornelius C. Smith, Jr., from the Marine Barracks at the Navy Yard, searched in vain among the maimed and dying at the Naval Hospital later that day, for his friend Harry Gaver from Oklahoma. Death respected no rank. The most senior Marine to die that day was Lieutenant Colonel Daniel R. Fox, the decorated World War I hero and the division Marine officer on the staff of the Commander, Battleship Division One, Rear Admiral Isaac C. Kidd, who, along with Lieutenant Colonel Fox, had been killed in Arizona. The tragedy of Pearl Harbor struck some families with more force than others: numbered among Arizona's lost were Private Gordon E. Shive, of the battleship's Marine detachment, and his brother, Radioman Third Class Malcolm H. Shive, a member of the ship's company.

Over the next few days, Marines from the sunken ships received reassignment to other vessels — Nevada's Marines deployed ashore to set up defensive positions in the fields adjacent to the grounded and listing battleship — and the dead, those who could be found, were interred with appropriate ceremony. Eventually, the deeds of Marines in the battleship detachments were recognized by appropriate commendations and advancements in ratings. Chief among them, Gunnery Sergeant Douglas, Sergeant Hailey, and Corporals Driskell and Darling were each awarded the Navy Cross. For his "meritorious conduct at the peril of his own life," Major Shapley was commended and awarded the Silver Star. Lieutenant Simensen was awarded a posthumous Bronze Star, while Tennessee's commanding officer commended Captain White for the way in which he had directed that battleship's antiaircraft guns that morning.

Titanic salvage efforts raised some of the sunken battleships — California, West Virginia, and Nevada — and they, like the surviving Marines, went on to play a part in the ultimate defeat of the enemy who had begun the war with such swift and terrible suddenness.

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Commemorative Series produced by the Marine Corps History and Museums Division