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Military Traditions

May 9, 2019 By Jeanne Michael

It Was 77 Years Ago

It was a beautiful Sunday morning in Hawaii until…it wasn’t. The new incoming B-17s should be arriving, but what were the strange sounds? Bea Sullivan, who had been up late the night before, woke to odd noises. Her pilot husband was on the mainland, along with other Army Air Corps pilots, to ferry back the new planes.

She rushed out on her quarter’s balcony and saw, not the expected American planes, but planes marked with the Rising Sun. They were strafing American planes lined up wing tip to wing tip on the landing field. They also strafed the barracks and housing — but with slate roofs and concrete walls, they didn’t catch on fire. And on Battleship Row, the ships were being bombed. Her downstairs neighbors yelled up at her to get inside and she hid under the bed to think things over!

When all was quiet, she called her mother — her Navy dad was on a tender with the aircraft carriers at sea — so her mother quickly loaded her 17-year-old sister and her toddler brother into the car and came to pick her up. For the next several days, they all slept on mattresses in mom’s living room. When no more bombings occurred, and things started to get organized, her family group was on one of the first evacuation ships returning to the states. They weren’t together — her mother and sister and brother were on a Navy ship, she was on an Army ship and the third one was for civilians. Was there PC even then?

Meanwhile, back on that Sunday, Capt. W. H. Michael, USN, MC, came instantly awake and knew exactly what was happening — memories of France on the Western Front were never forgotten. He rushed into work and commandeered the Pearl Harbor Officers’ Club for an emergency hospital and quickly rounded up all medical supplies and medical personnel he could find. He was delighted that a new medical device — one he helped bring into existence, the individual Morphine syringe — was carried by all medical corpsmen. It contained a single Morphine dose and a sterile needle and was in a packet complete with paperwork to record time of use and could then be hung around the neck of the patient. Many battlefield causalities were lost to shock in France and, if given in time, this helped prevent it.

At a glance, one knew when to administer Morphine and since it was a “one-doser,” no time was wasted in preparing it.

It wasn’t until December 8, when President Roosevelt spoke to a joint session of Congress that war was declared, officially, but truly, for America, WW II started on December 7. The time was 7:55 a.m. and it was when the first wave of Japanese planes made the initial bombing run down Battleship Row!

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