Attack on Pearl Harbor: Living witness reveals unheard-of details of Kamikaze Japanese attack

Attack on Pearl Harbor witness observed fire and watched smoke billow above the ships on Battleship Row on Ford Island in Hawaii

By Web Desk
December 07, 2023
US Navy file image shows a ship burning after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. — AFP

Jim Morgan, a living witness of the Pearl Harbor Attack was nine years old at the time and lived in government housing along a canal facing the harbor with his parents, was getting ready for church when Japanese bombers split the sky over his house.

Morgan observed fire and watched smoke billow above the ships on Battleship Row on Ford Island in Hawaii from a second-floor window. He informed his mother.

“It was pure pandemonium,” Morgan said. “They (the planes) were coming one right after the other. They were open cockpits. You could see their faces.”

Jim and his mother, Beryl, dashed next door.

Beryl attempted to start the family car so that they could go, but it refused to start.

“I don’t know where we were going to go,” Jim said. “I’ve always figured that, in her excitement, she flooded the engine.”

They returned to the house, and Jim and the other youngsters spent the rest of the day hiding in a closet beneath the stairs. They couldn't, however, hide from the sounds.

“You could hear explosions going off from the bombs,” Jim said. “You could hear anti-aircraft fire going back up. We had shrapnel that hit our house. I used to have a piece of shrapnel that I took out of the back door.”

During the first of two attack waves, Japanese planes, including the Zeke torpedo bomber, the Val dive bomber, and the Zero fighter aircraft, passed straight over the Morgans' residence.

“The real thought was the Japanese were going to be coming ashore that day,” Jim said. “Everybody was scared to death about that.”

“They hit us at 8 o’clock on Sunday morning,” Jim said. “You’ve got a bunch of sailors who have been out all night drinking and raising hell and all that stuff. It took forever for everybody to get back to their stations to man their guns.

“So, there was no immediate response. Only a couple of planes ever got into the air to counter the Japanese.”