Pearl Harbor, T.H.,
10 December 1941.
|From:||D. C. JOHNSON, Lieutenant Commander, U.S. Navy.
Communication Officer U.S.S. WEST VIRGINIA.
Shortly before eight o'clock on the morning of 7 December 1941 the Fire and Rescue party was called away--immediately after, the General Alarm was sounded. I was in bed in my room and immediately put on by trousers, pants and shoes and came on deck by way of the J.O. hatch and proceeded up the weather deck ladder on the starboard side to the boat deck. By the time I arrived on the boat deck the ship was listed considerably to port making it difficult to move along the deck. Lieut. (jg) Freddy White was on the boat deck and was concerned about replenishing the supply of ammunition for the five inch anti-aircraft battery. I remained in the vicinity of the starboard anti-aircraft battery for about five minutes--during this time a flight of seven Japanese horizontal bombers flew over the ship at an altitude of about ten thousand feet in a Vee formation, their course was directly along the center line of the ship and they passed directly over head. The starboard anti-aircraft battery performed very creditably at this time. I particularly observed number three gun in charge of SCHMITZ, K. J., B.M.1c. There was no air on the battery and it was necessary to bring the guns to a level position each time to load--the ships list to port made it very difficult to serve the battery. SCHMITZ worked his crew in a very commendable manner and got out several well aimed rounds using local control but did not get a hit--the formation of Japanese proceeded directly overhead--I did not observe any bomb release from them. SCHMITZ work under the difficulties involved was in the best tradition of the service--I did not personally observe the other guns in the battery, but know they were making every effort to get out shots and some of them did.
After the planes passed over, I observed Lieut. Comdr. Beattie on the forecastle and reported to him there. Some time later, Lieut. Comdr. Beattie directed me to go to the bridge and bring the Captain down--Lt. Comdr. Harper appeared on the forecastle at about this time--at about this time wounded men were beginning to be brought on the forecastle and loaded in boats. I proceeded to the Signal bridge where I found Captain Bennion laying on a cot in full uniform wounded. I had brought a colored mess attendant with me--a very powerfully built individual, having in mind that he might pick the Captain up and carry him below. Lieut. Rickets was also on the signal bridge at this time and was also concerned with getting the Captain below. The Captain was carried on the cot to the top of the ladder leading down from the signal bridge--the cot sagged and almost broke--he was returned to the first position where I saw him--both moves were very painful and he requested to be left where he was. There are, of course, no facilities for getting a wounded man down from the signal bridge level, and the Captain was very seriously wounded. I returned to the forecastle and reported to Lieut. Comdr. Beattie that it was advisable to leave the Captain where he was. I went into one of the five inch gun casemates on the port side and directed the removal of two wounded men, using mess benches for stretchers--this operation was very laborious due to the slippery deck, ships list, and darkness in the compartment.
D.C. JOHNSON, Lieut. Comdr. U.S. Navy
Communication Officer, USS West Virginia
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