INFAMOUS DAY: Marines at Pearl Harbor
by Robert J. Cressman and J. Michael Wenger
They Caught Us Flat-Footed (continued)
Elsewhere in the Ewa Beach community, Mrs. Charles S. Barker, Jr.,
wife of Master Technical Sergeant Barker, the chief clerk in MAG-21's
operations office, hear the noise and asked: "What's all the shooting?"
Barker, clad only in beach shorts, looked out his front door, saw and
heard a plane fly by at low altitude, and then saw splashes along the
shoreline from strafing planes marked with red hinomaru. Running
out to turn off the water hose in his front yard, and seeing a small
explosion nearby (probably an antiaircraft shell from the direction of
Pearl), Barker had seen enough. He left his wife and baby with his
neighbors, and set out for Ewa.
Yoshio Shiga, commander of Kaga's nine Zeroes which strafed Ewa
soon after Itaya, was assigned the task of reducing the "Barbers Point
The strafers who singled out cars moving along the roads that led to
Ewa proved no respecter of persons. MAG-21's commanding officer,
Lieutenant Colonel Claude A. "Sheriff" Larkin, en route from Honolulu,
was about a mile from Ewa in his 1930 Plymouth when a Zero shot at him.
He momentarily abandoned the car for the relative sanctuary of a nearby
ditch, not even bothering to turn off the engine, and then, as the
strafer roared out of sight, sprinted back to the vehicle, jumped back
in, and sped on. He reached his destination at 0805 just in time
to be machine gunned again by one of Admiral Nagumo's fighters. Soon
thereafter, Larkin's good fortune at remaining unwounded amidst the
attack ran out, as he suffered several penetrating wounds, the most
painful of which included one on the top of the middle finger of his
left hand and another on the front of his lower left leg just above the
top of his shoe. Refusing immediate medical attention, though, Larkin
continued to direct the defense of Ewa Field.
Pilots and ground crewmen alike rushed out onto the mat to try to
save their planes from certain destruction. At least a few pilots
intended to get airborne, but could not because most of their aircraft
were either afire or riddled beyond any hope of immediate use.
Captain Milo G. Haines of VMF-211 sought safety behind a tractor, he
and the machine's driver taking shelter on the side opposite to the
strafers. Another Zero came in from another angle, however, and strafed
them from that direction. Spraying bullets clipped off Haines' necktie
just beneath his chin. Then, as a momentarily relieved Haines put his
right hand at the back of his head a bullet lacerated his right little
finger and a part of his scalp.
Henry H. Anglin, the non-commissioned officer in charge of Ewa's
Photography Section, stands before the mooring mast field's dispensary
on 8 December 1941, solemnly displaying the slug that wounded him on the
7th. Jordan Collection, MCHC
In the midst of the confusion, an excited three-year old Hank Anglin
innocently took advantage of his father's distraction with the battle
and wandered toward the mat. All of the noise seemed like a lot of fun.
Sergeant Anglin ran after his son, got him to the ground, and, shielding
him with his own body, crawled some 35 yards, little puffs of dirt
coming near them at times. As they clambered inside the radio trailer to
get out of harm's way, a bullet made a hole above the door. Moving back
to the photo tent, the elder Anglin put his son under a wooden bench. As
he set about gathering his camera gear to take pictures of the action, a
bullet went through his left arm. Deprived of the use of that arm for a
time, Anglin returned to the bench under which his son still crouched
obediently, to see little Hank point to a spent bullet on the floor and
hear him warn: "Don't touch that, daddy, it's hot."
of the seven Vought SB2U-3s destroyed on the field at Ewa. All of
VMSB-231's spares (the squadron was embarked in Lexington, en
route to Midway, at the time) were thus destroyed. In the background is
one of VMSB-232's SBDs. Larkin Collection, MCHC
Private First Class James W. Mann, the driver assigned to Ewa's 1938
Ford ambulance, had been refueling the vehicle when the attack began.
When Lieutenant Thomas L. Allman, Medical Corps, USN, the group medical
officer, saw the first planes break into flames, he ordered Mann to take
the ambulance to the flight line. Accompanied by Pharmacist's Mate 2d
Class Orin D. Smith, a corpsman from sick bay, they sped off. The
Japanese planes seemed to be attracted to the bright red crosses on the
ambulance, however, and halted its progress near the mooring mast.
Realizing that they were under attack, Mann floored the brake pedal and
the Ford screeched to a halt. Rather than leave the vehicle for a safer
area, Mann and Smith crawled underneath it so that they could continue
their mission as quickly as possible. The strafing, however, continued
unabated. Ironically, the first casualty Mann had to collect was the man
lying prone beside him. Orin Smith felt a searing pain as one of the
Japanese 7.7-millimeter rounds found its mark in the fleshy part of his
left calf. Seeing that the corpsman had been hurt, Mann assisted him out
from under the vehicle and up into the cab. Despite continued strafing
that shot out four tires, Mann pressed doggedly ahead and delivered the
wounded Smith to sick bay.
Claude A. "Sheriff" Larkin, Commanding Officer, Marine Aircraft Group
21, photographed circa early 1942. Larkin Collection, MCHC
After seeing that the corpsman's bleeding was stopped and the painful
wound was cleaned and dressed, Private First Class Mann sprinted to his
own tent. Grabbing his rifle, he then returned to the battered ambulance
and, shot-out tires flopping, drove toward Ewa's garage. There, Master
Technical Sergeant Lawrence R. Darner directed his men to replace the
damaged tires with those from a mobile water purifier. Meanwhile, Smith
resumed his duties as a member of the dressing station crew.
Also watching the smoke beginning to billow skyward was Sergeant
Duane W. Shaw, USMCR, the driver of the station fire truck. Normally,
during off-duty hours, the truck sat parked a quarter-mile from the
landing area. Shaw, figuring that it was his job to put out the fires,
climbed into the fire engine and set off. Unfortunately, like Private
First Class Mann's ambulance, Sergeant Shaw's bright red engine moving
across the embattled camp soon attracted strafing Zeroes. Unfazed by the
enemy fire that perforated his vehicle in several places, he drove
doggedly toward the flight line until another Zero shot out his tires.
Only then pausing to make a hasty estimate of the situation, he reasoned
that with the fire truck at least temporarily out of service he would
have to do something else. Jumping down from the cab, he soon got
himself a rifle and some ammunition. Then, he set out for the flight
line. If he could not put out fires, he could at least do some firing of
his own at the men who caused them.
With the parking area cloaked in black smoke, Japanese fighter pilots
shifted their efforts to the planes either out for repairs in the rear
areas or to the utility planes parked north of the intersection of the
main runways. Inside ten minutes' time, machine gun fire likewise
transformed many of those planes into flaming wreckage.
Firing only small arms and rifles in the opening stages, the Marines
fought back against Kaga's fighters as best they could, with
almost reckless heroism. Lieutenant Shiga remembered one particular
Leatherneck who, oblivious to the machine gun fire striking the ground
around him and kicking up dirt, stood transfixed, emptying his sidearm
at Shiga's Zero as it roared past. years later, Shiga would describe
that lone, defiant, and unknown Marine as the bravest American he had
A tragic drama, however, soon unfolded amidst the Japanese attack.
One Marine, Sergeant William E. Lutschan, Jr., USMCR, a truck driver,
had been "under suspicion" of espionage and he was ordered placed under
arrest. In the exchange of gunfire that followed his resisting being
taken into custody, though, he was shot dead. With that one exception,
the Marines at Ewa Field had fought back to a man.
Ewa's 1938 Ford ambulance, seen after the Japanese raid,
its Red Cross status violated, took over 50 hits from strafing
planes. Larkin Collection, MCHC
As if Akagi's and Kaga's fighters had not sown enough
destruction on Ewa, one division of Zeroes from Soryu and one
from Hiryu arrived on the scene, fresh from laying waste to many
of the planes at Wheeler Field. This second group of fighter pilots went
about their work with the same deadly precision exhibited at Wheeler
only minutes before. The raid caught master Technical Sergeant Darner's
crew in the middle of changing the tires on the station's ambulance.
Private First Class Mann, who by that point had managed to obtain some
ammunition for his rifle, dropped down with the rest of the Marines at
the garage and fired at the attacking fighters as they streaked by.
Lieutenant Kiyokuma Okajima led his six fighters down through the
rolling smoke, executing strafing attacks until ground fire holed the
forward fuel tank of his wingman, Petty Officer 1st Class Kazuo
Muranaka. When Okajima discovered the damage to Muranaka's plane, he
decided that his men had pressed their luck far enough, and began to
assemble his unit and shepherd them toward the rendezvous area some 10
miles west of Kaena Point. The retiring Japanese in all likelihood then
spotted incoming planes from Enterprise (CV-6), that had been
launched at 0618 to scout 150 miles ahead of the ship in nine two-plane
sections. Their planned flight path to Pearl was to take many of them
over Ewa Mooring Mast Field, where some would encounter Japanese
Meanwhile, back at Ewa, after what must have seemed an eternity, the
Zeroes of the first wave at last wheeled away toward their rendezvous
point. Having made a shambles of the Marine air base, Japanese pilots
claimed the destruction of 60 aircraft on the ground: Akagi's
airmen accounted for 11, Kaga's 15, Soryu's 12, and
Hiryu's 22. Their figures were not too far off the mark, for 47
aircraft of all types had been parked at the field at the beginning of
the onslaught, 33 of which had been fully operational.
Although the Japanese had wreaked havoc upon MAG-21's complement of
planes, the group's casualties seemed miraculously light. Apparently,
the enemy fighter pilots in the first wave maintained a fairly high
degree of discipline, eschewing attacks on people and concentrating
their attacks on machines. Many of Ewa's Marines, however, had parked
their cars near the center of the station. By the time the Japanese
departed, the parking lot resembled a junk yard of mangled automobiles
of various makes and models.
Overcoming the initial shock of the first strafing attack, Ewa's
Marines took stock of their situation. As soon as the last of Itaya's
and Shiga's Zeroes had departed, Marines went out and manned stations
with rifles and .30-caliber machine guns taken from damaged aircraft and
from the squadron ordnance rooms. Technical Sergeant William G. Turnage,
an armorer, supervised the setting up of the free machine guns.
Technical Sergeant Anglin, meanwhile, took his little boy to the guard
house, where a woman motorist agreed to drive Hank home to his mother.
As it would turn out, that reunion was not to be accomplished until much
later that day, "inasmuch as the distraught mother had already left home
to look for her son."
Master Technical Sergeant Emil S. Peters, a veteran of action in
Nicaragua, had, during the first attack, reported to the central
ordnance tent to lend a hand in manning a gun. By the time he arrived
there, however, there were none left to man. Then he saw a Douglas
SBD-2, one of two spares assigned to VMSB-232, parked behind the
squadron's tents. Enlisting the aid of Private William G. Turner,
VMSB-231's squadron clerk, Peters ran over to the ex-Lexington
machine that still bore her USN markings, 2-B-6, pulled the after canopy
forward, and clambered in the after cockpit, stepping hard on the foot
pedal to unship the free .30-caliber Browning from its housing in the
after fuselage, and then locking it in place. Turner, having obtained a
supply of belted ammunition, took his place on the wing as Peter's