Remembering Pearl Harbor from a Hawaiian Veteran’s perspective

Post written by Alan Hino, Intern at Go For Broke National Education Center


December 7th is always an odd day for me. On the one hand,  it was the beginning of all of the events that led to my family being incarcerated at both Manzanar and Rohwer (as well as Jerome) incarceration camps. Obviously, this personal impact is far outweighed by the thousands that were entombed in the ships and killed in action defending our country. On the other hand, in some strange way,  my family  is both stronger and more closely tight knit because of everything that they went through. It also doesn’t hurt that one of my best friend’s birthday happens to fall on “a date which will live in infamy.”

As we all remember the tragic events of Pearl Harbor, I wanted to highlight a veteran’s perspective of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Mr. Saburo Nishime was stationed at Schofield Barracks and happened to be away from the base since it was a Sunday. He had, unfortunately, heard it on the radio, and needed to travel back to Schofield via truck. He traveled to a point where he could see the USS Arizona burning, along with the other ships in “disarray.” When asked about his feelings on the bombing, he simply shrugged and stated, “it was war.”

He vividly remembers Schofield Barracks being a “tent city,” and how the tent city was sprayed with bullets by enemy fighters. Luckily, since it was a Sunday, the tent city was, for the most part, empty. In reaction, he was told to “wait for what was to come” with the arms they received earlier. They were now armed and prepared, just waiting for the enemy. They had accidentally shot down one of their own planes that happened to fly overhead as it made its way back to an aircraft carrier.

Mr. Nishime stated that the mood among the soldiers was: “We were in a war. It was just the way it was.” Once the defense of the base had ceased, the Nisei soldiers were disarmed. The explanation was that there was a rumor going around that the Nisei soldiers may riot. In addition, the Colonel explained that he trusted 75% of the Nisei soldiers, however, he did not trust the other 25% of them. The rifles were later returned to the soldiers after the first night, and “nothing more was said about the whole thing.”

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