It is now December 7 in Hawaii. Today is the 70th anniversary of the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. The anniversary is being recognized in solemn fashion on Oahu with several survivors in attendance.
I found this article very interesting:
In their youth, on the eve of disaster, they belonged to the Signal Corps Aircraft Warning Service on Oahu. Pvts. Joseph Lockard and Robert McKenney worked at the Opana mobile radar station on the northern tip of the island. Opana had gotten a radar set Thanksgiving Day 1941. Its operators could look out over the Pacific from a height of more than 500 feet…
The remote Opana site had no quarters, so the soldiers who manned it camped several miles away at Kawailoa. On Saturday, Dec. 6, they got a call to operate the radar set early the next morning.
“Joe Lockard and I were the only experienced so-called crew chiefs there,” McKenney said in a 1991 video interview with the National Park Service. “I tossed a coin to see who would draw that duty, to be there to operate from 4-7 a.m. .. I tossed with Lockard and he lost, so he got the job.”
“We spent the night at the site and turned on the equipment and were on line and in contact with the information center at 4 a.m.,” Lockard said. “George was at the plotting table; I was the operator at the scope.
“After the exercise, we didn’t shut down the unit at 7 a.m. because we didn’t have any transportation back to Kawailoa. The truck hadn’t arrived. So I decided to give George some training.
“I started to put him in front of the scope and there it was — this huge echo on the screen. I had never seen any kind of response on the equipment that was so large.
“At first I thought there might have been some glitch with the equipment. So I checked everything I could and everything operated OK, so it had to be real. There had to be something out there.”
The blip was 136 miles out and closing fast. It was 7:02 a.m.
Elliott tried to call the information center but couldn’t raise anyone on the plotters line because the plotters had all gone to breakfast at 7. He used the administrative line to call the switchboard, and Pvt. Joseph McDonald answered. McDonald, from Archbald, Lackawanna County, near Scranton, and Lockard were friends.
“Joe told us that everyone had left the building,” Lockard said. “We asked him to look around and see if he could find anybody, and he did. He found a young Air Corps lieutenant, Kermit Tyler, and brought him to the phone.
“I talked to Kermit Tyler and tried to convey my excitement at the fact that we had never seen anything like this on radar, and that it obviously had to be planes. . I didn’t have any idea how many. I pushed it as far as I could, but you can only argue with an officer so long.
“He just said, ‘Don’t worry about it.’ “