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The Attack on Pearl Harbor: An Eyewitness Account


Part 2: Why Won't They Listen?

McDonald looked at the clock to time the message and saw a Lieutenant from the Air Corps sitting at the plotting table. He walked in and said, " I just received a call from 6QN Opana reporting a large number of planes coming in from the north 3 points east." The Lieutenant said that there was nothing to get excited about. McDonald returned to the switchboard and called the man back on the Opana radar unit. McDonald relayed the Lieutenant's lack of concern.

The voice at Opana was coming in stronger now. He recognized the voice as his friend Joseph Lockard. Pvt. Lockard was excited and stated that a large number of planes were heading fast towards Oahu: "Hey, Mac, there is a heck of a big flight of planes coming in and the whole scope is covered," he said.

McDonald told Lockard to hold on. McDonald, infected by his friend's excitement, again returned to the plotting table. McDonald said, "Sir, this is the first call that I have ever received like this. This sounds serious! Do you think that we ought to do something about it? Shall I call back the plotters?" The Lieutenant said that it was probably a flight from the states. Pvt. Lockard asked to talk directly with the Lieutenant. The Lieutenant took the phone and my father could hear, "Well don't worry about it."

After the Lieutenant got off the phone, Joseph McDonald asked if he should recall the plotters or call Wheeler Field. The Lieutenant replied, "Don't worry about it". McDonald was sure that it was serious. He knew that the Lieutenant was inexperienced in the information center's operations because it was only his second day there. McDonald was pretty sure that it was serious. A number of times he grabbed the line for Wheeler Field.

McDonald then thought that he could be court marshaled for going around the Lieutenant. Who would listen to a private anyway? At about 7:45, McDonald's replacement arrived. My father was exhausted after working more than 14 hours, yet the communication from Opana kept gnawing on him. He thought that he would call Wheeler from the orderly tent. He passed by the orderly tent and saw the Sergeant using the phone. He returned to his tent to tell his tentmate, Pvt. Richard Schimmel, "Shim, the Japs are coming." McDonald sat on his bunk and recounted the call from the Opana radar. A few moments later, they could hear the drone of planes. Their tent was on a hill overlooking Pearl Harbor. Finally, they could see the planes coming over.

Next page > The Attack > Page 1, 2, 3

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