On December 8, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed the United States Congress in a speech that famously began:
Mr. Vice President, and Mr. Speaker, and Members of the Senate and House of Representatives:
YESTERDAY, December 7, 1941 a date which will live in infamy the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.
There are few left now who were present at the attack that day. I’d like to share the story of one of those present, a friend – Linton “Pete” Edwards. Since he and his daughter Terri shared this with me, Pete has passed on. But these are his memories. Pete was aboard the USS California on the day of the attack.
“AS I REMEMBER
~The War Years~
By Linton “Pete” Edwards
I was born on Sept. 16, 1918. I enlisted in the Navy at the age of 19 years old. I had no idea I would be involved in one of the country’s biggest and most historic wars. I was stationed on the USS California, a battleship in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7, 1941. Our job was to transport troops to Okinawa, I controlled the ‘telephone’ at that time.
When the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred, the USS California was two ships away from the USS Arizona.
The California was mortally wounded following the surprise attack by 360 Japanese torpedo and bomber planes. At this point, the crew was in process of abandoning ship. The No. 2 turret was trained with it’s three 14” guns pointing to starboard. This was to counter the weight of the water coming in on the port side. We tried to do the same with No. 1 turret but the auxiliary power gave out before it was accomplished.
Meanwhile, in the Lowering Handling room of Turret #1, I was waiting for orders to leave my post. The rest of the crew had been allowed to leave, but as Chief Gunners Mate in charge I was wearing the sound-powered phones in communication with Battle Control and they weren’t ready to let me go yet.
Even though the water was still coming in through air vents and the ship was listing to port, the water was warm and the pounding of bombs and torpedoes against the ship had ceased. It gave me a chance to wonder, who could have done such a thing as this?
When the water got waist high on me and the ship began to sink I was able to abandon the ship. There was oil all over the water, so when I dove off I hit the fan and scraped my knee. That was my only battle wound. The California had fifteen hundred men aboard and lost 130.
After the bombing attack on December 7th, and those in charge finally got things organized, I was sent to the Marine Base at Ewa where we set up a battery of four 5” 25 caliber anti-aircraft guns that were salvaged from the California. We manned those until they felt the threat of another invasion was over.
In April of 1942, I received orders to report to San Francisco where I found my first four-year enlistment was up so I re-enlisted for another four years, and remained until I was discharged.” Copyright(c) 2016 Linton Edwards
Pete returned to Pearl for an anniversary memorial before his death. Pictures below.