Eyewitness Report of Aubrey Mahaney, SM1/c USN
The UTAH was moored across Ford Island from Battleship Row.
I was ready for a post breakfast nap on a cot just off the signal bridge, when the morning and the world, took a sudden turn. I was standing there in my skivvies, and all at once we saw all those planes. The chief signalman was standing beside me and said, "Those are Japanese planes." He had barely gotten it out of his mouth when they were on us.
I saw the planes flying in low, drop their torpedoes, and lurch upward, barely clearing the ship. You could see the underside of the wings with a great big red ball on them. We could hardly believe what was happening. I counted two torpedo strikes; the entire ship just shuddered when they hit. With each torpedo, the ship would roll over a little more.
A load of heavy planking stacked on deck tore loose, crushing men as they tried to abandon ship. I crawled to the edge, just as the UTAH ripped free of the mooring lines and rolled on her side. I scrambled onto the hull, and skinned my behind on the barnacles as I slipped and slid to the water. That was the only injury I received during the entire war.
From there it was a swim to shore through a thick oil slick under fire from the attacking planes. They strafed us in the water. I saw men throw up their arms and go under. Reaching Ford Island, I ducked into a trench to hide. Some of our men began to go into shock. They were covered with oil. You could see only the whites of their eyes.
A Navy lieutenant, clad only in his pajamas, had a .45-caliber pistol strapped to his side. He ordered us to set up machine gun nests. Instead of lying there in the ditch, we got busy. The sights and sounds of defeat were all around. The devastation on Ford Island was awful. There was smoke and fire, everywhere. When we got to see all that had happened, we were just sick. The confusion was hard to describe. You would see shipmates being killed...It was horrifying!"
Aubrey E. Mahaney
Read James Oberto's Report
Return to Eyewitness Index
Return to Home Page