On the morning of December 7, 1941, I had relieved the watch in the port engine room [of the USS Utah]. I had been on watch about 20 minutes when the first torpedo hit the ship on the port side. It was about 5 or 8 minutes before I could hear someone hollering that the Japanese were attacking us.
I ran up the ladder to the third deck. On the port side was our sleeping quarters, and water was already washing over my bunk. I went to the starboard side of the ship, went up to the second deck to our locker room and mess hall. There were several other men there. One asked if he should take his dress blue uniform with him. I told him he wouldn't be needing that for a good while.
I grabbed an extra pair of dungarees, a carton of cigarettes, and went on top side. A friend and I sat down on the side of the ship and slid into the water. We swam to Ford Island where we were picked up by a party. They took us to the USS California to unload ammunition. That evening we were taken to an ammunition ship that was tied up at the docks in the shipyard. We spend the night there.
Last updated: July 18, 2016