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Wednesday, July 30, 2014         

WITNESS TO INFAMY


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Chun was near massive attack; Hyland takes direct hits, returns to duty

By William Cole

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Teen shipyard worker was near massive attack on Battleship Row

Edward Chun was a 17-year-old working in Pearl Harbor shipyard and preparing for college on the mainland when the world changed in front of him.

He graduated early from Saint Louis School and received a scholarship to the University of Dayton, but he needed money, so before he planned to head off to college, he became a pipe fitter in the Navy yard.

The senior shipyarders did not have to work on Sundays, but younger workers like Chun did.

He was on the 10-10 dock across from Battleship Row working with a retired Navy man on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941.

"When they hit, we were facing Ford Island, and I saw the first bomb drop at the seaplane ramp on Ford Island, and after that it just escalated. You know, it was just chaos, actually," Chun said. "We didn't know what was going on. We thought maybe somebody was practicing with dummy bombs or something and something went wrong."

A torpedo hit the USS Helena and blew a hole in its side. Chun, now 87, said the concussion knocked him down. He took shelter behind a shack on the dock as ships exploded around him.

"The Japanese fliers were having a holiday, just like a picnic — nobody firing at them," he said. "So they just came down, and they were looking for people on the dock and they were just strafing the hell out of us."

Launches pulled sailors from the fiery waters and dropped them off at the 10-10 dock.

Some were dead, and some had broken arms and legs, he recalled.

"Some of them were just scared to hell, they didn't know what to do, they were full of oil," Chun said.

He saw the Oklahoma get hit and roll over and the West Virginia take extensive damage.

The bomb that struck a severe blow to the battleship Arizona "was the loudest explosion I ever heard," Chun said. "I was deaf for about two hours."

There wasn't much Chun could do.

"What could we do?" he said. "We couldn't do nothing. We were civilians. The military, they were there and got their firearms and everything."

 

Sailor takes direct hits aboard the 'Pennsy' but returns to duty

Everett Hyland never heard a thing when the Japanese aerial bomb hit his ship, the USS Pennsylvania, killing 31 on board.

The 18-year-old wasn't dead, but he was a mess.

"I was flat on the deck and my arms were extended in front of me and of course they were all burned and peeled and so I stood myself up and I'm wondering where the heck the gun crew went," he said.

He knew he was hit, but not how badly.

"One of the things I do remember is my feet felt wet, so I looked down and there was blood spurting out of one of the holes in my left leg," he recounted.

He put his finger on the wound to try to staunch the blood and his finger disappeared into his leg to the second joint, he said.

"About this time, some officer spotted me and he hollered, 'Get this man to sick bay!' So somebody came out of the woodwork somewhere and they got a hold of me and led me down to sick bay."

Hyland, who was part of an antenna repair squad, said he had an ankle wound, a chipped bone in his right leg, a right hand that was ripped open, a bullet hole through his right thigh, five pieces of shrapnel in his left leg, a chunk blown out of his left thigh, an elbow injury, part of his left bicep was gone — and on top of that, he had a flash burn.

The "Pennsy," as it was known, was in Drydock No. 1 on the morning of Dec. 7.

Hyland, who lives in Makiki and volunteers at the Arizona Memorial on Sundays, said there was a group of five high-altitude bombers that set its sights on the Pennsylvania. He knows this because many years later, he had dinner with a Japanese sailor and photographer named Ohtawa who was in one of those planes.

"He told me that all five airplanes released their bombs at the same time, and we took one hit," the now 87-year-old said.

Hyland said the ship's log showed the bomb hit at 9:06 a.m. He had been running ammunition for a 3-inch 50-caliber gun. After nine months of rehabilitation, Hyland returned to sea duty and served on the USS Memphis.

Hyland doesn't bear a grudge against the Japanese attackers.

"They were young fellas doing a job like we were," he said.






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