Thomas R. Eddy
USS West Virginia
In 1941, my father was a new graduate from the Naval Academy and was a
crew member on the USS Battleship West Virginia stationed at Pearl Harbor.
He was 26 years old. My mother had left her hometown of Hollywood,
California on the Matson Line's Lurline to marry my father in Honolulu.
Dad could not secure leave from the ship to marry in Hollywood. Many of my
father's navy buddies were marrying their sweethearts who came to
Honolulu. My dad begged his future father-in-law to allow my mother to
quickly come to Honolulu to marry him before war broke out. They were
married on July 7, 1941 and found a small apartment in downtown Honolulu.
My mother was in paradise! She was all of 21 years young. After their
wedding in Pearl Harbor, my father placed all of their wedding gifts in
his cabin in the superstructure of the West Virginia. My parents were
asleep in their apartment on the morning of December 7. My father was
awakened by the planes and thought our US "fly boys" were just
doing early morning practicing. When he opened the venetian blinds, he was
horrified to see the Japanese planes and the ships exploding in the
harbor. He often stated that when he saw the "meatballs" on the
bottom of a Japanese plane that flew over the apartment, he was without
words. When he arrived at the WeeVee, he was unable to assist the mighty
West Virginia. She was on fire and had sunk to rest on the harbor floor.
My mother assisted nurses in making bandages for the wounded. Later, she
was evacuated and returned to the mainland aboard the Lurline under
complete darkness and worry about enemy submarines. My father was moved to
the USS Pennsylvania and the ship immediately set to sea. In 1956, my
father was still in the Navy and he was once again sent for a tour of duty
at the Pearl Harbor Naval Base. I was 4 years old. At the time, there
wasn't a memorial over the USS Arizona, the hull of the ship was by itself
with the gun turret mounts poking above the water. During our stay as a
Navy family at Pearl Harbor, my dad secured a small navy boat to take
myself and my two brothers out in the harbor to view the remains of the
USS Arizona. My mother did not want to attend. I remember how I was so
quiet as dad explained what happened to the Arizona in 1941. I could not
believe that a mighty US battleship was below the water with the marines
and sailors still entombed aboard. The oil was still floating on the water
after 14 years. At the tender age of 4, I realized that my dad and my
mother may not have made it through December 7. I looked up to dad, as he
wore his naval uniform that day, and realized he was more than just a dad.
He never spoke about December 7 unless I quizzed him for school. In my
eighth grade, my term paper was about the bombing of Pearl Harbor. We
still have many of my parents wedding gifts which burned in my father's
cabin, including a tray engraved by a division of the West Virginia crew
for their wedding day, July 4, 1941. In 1979, I vacationed with my parents
in Honolulu. I was 27 at the time, close to the age of my dad on December
7. My father was on business so my mother and I went on the Pearl Harbor
cruise. As I passed the moorings of the WeeVee and the remains of the
Arizona, I uncontrollably began to weep, I am not usually that way. My
father passed away in 1989. I am so proud of him and honored to be his
son. I begged him to write his story about World War II. He wanted to but
never got started. My mother is 80 and is like a living memorial to
December 7, 1941. She has wonderful stories to tell of Hawaii and of the
Navy. Thank you for reading this story. There are so many stories about
Pearl Harbor just like mine. I am a "Navy brat" and even though
I wasn't a member of the Navy, December 7, 1941, WWII and the United
States Navy are an immense part of our family to this day. I am so
grateful that my parents survived that day.
Further research indicates that my dad was on the WeeVee from August 1939-December 1941.
T.R. Eddy is included in the picture of the Junior Officer's mess in May 1940. See the picture here.