Leonide B. (Lee) Soucy, PhM2/c
I happened to be looking out of a porthole in Sick Bay when I saw a large number of airplanes approaching a mile or two south of us. As I focused on a forward group of 5 to 6 planes, at least three of them started diving and dropped bombs on hangars on the southern tip of Ford Island.
I watched large balls of flame and a black cloud of smoke rising, my first thought was: "Somebody goofed big this time. They loaded live bombs on those planes by mistake."
Within a minute or so after the explosions, I felt the ship lurch sideways. I learned later that was a torpedo hit on the opposite (port) side of the ship.
A few seconds before or after the hit the bugler sounded "general quarters."
As I was racing toward my battle station I felt another torpedo - or perhaps a bomb - hit. It knocked me off my feet and I lost my medical bag. It seems that I reached my battle station amidship in less than a minute and the ship was already listing. Three or four men were already down there and everyone was wondering aloud "What kind of a drill is this?" In another minute or two we heard another bugle call followed by the bosun's whistle then his chant, "Abandon ship, abandon ship."
We all scampered up topside and as I was poised to take a running dive off the ship there was another jolt (torpedo, bomb, or mooring lines snapping?) and I ended up skidding down the barnacle encrusted hull into the water.
When I bobbed to the surface, I spotted a motor-launch with someone "fishing" men out of the water with a boat hook. I took a few strokes toward the launch and saw the water a few feet ahead of me and toward the launch being peppered with machine gun bullets. As the strafer banked I saw the big red Japanese insignia on the wings. Until then I had not known who was attacking us. Almost 60 years after the fact I still find it difficult to believe that they could sneak up on us from so far away. In any event, I quickly decided that a boat full of men would make a more attractive target for the strafers than a lone swimmer, so I headed for Ford Island despite the fact that at the time shore seemed more like 3 miles rather than 300 feet.
I reached the beach exhausted and when I looked up the sky was filled with airplanes … all Japanese. Soon another Pharmacist's mate (Gordon Sumner) from the Utah hobbled out of the water in his bare feet. Before we could discuss what to do two young officers in a jeep hailed us. "Corpsmen come with us on the double!" Sumner and I were both wearing our Red Cross brassards, which were easily recognized from the road. On the way, they explained to us that a large number of casualties were huddled together on the deck of a concrete building - new BOQ - with no medical personnel of any kind in attendance.
Upon arrival we saw oil covered men with a variety of bullet wounds, shrapnel injuries and severe burns - many of who were vomiting oil-streaked mucus and dirty seawater.
We quickly ran out of medical supplies. We were in dire need of alcohol to wash off oil covered wounds. We commandeered liquor from the officers' club and not only did we use whiskey, rum, gin, and vodka to wash wounds we discovered that okoliau was a good emetic. We felt an urgent need to induce vomiting so the exhausted men could get rid of the dirty water and oil so many of them had swallowed.
Late that morning medical personnel from the dispensary on Ford Island and the naval hospital relieved Sumner and me and took our patients out on stretchers to the hospital.
Early that afternoon we were ordered to report to the Dispensary. While walking through the courtyard Sumner pointed to a large crater and said that's where the bomb hit that I mentioned to you earlier. The 500 pound bomb was a dud otherwise the building would have been destroyed and he would most likely have been killed.
We were next ordered to the USS Argonne to await re-assignment. Shortly after dark several of us were in the mess hall drinking coffee when the sky suddenly lit up and we heard much gunfire. Scouting planes from the USS Enterprise approached the landing strip on Ford Island with lights flashing. Some understandably trigger-happy gunner opened fire and most - if not all - machine gunners in and around the area followed suit. From this wild gunfire a .50 caliber bullet penetrated Argonne's bulkhead, went through a Utah sailor's arm and struck another Utah sailor in the chest killing him instantly. I believe the name of the man hit in the arm was Price. Pallas Brown was the fatality.
The next day all pharmacist's mates from the Utah were transferred to the Pearl Harbor Naval Hospital. Doctors, nurses and corpsmen did a magnificent job, under very trying conditions.
And would you believe "girls of the night" from River Street and Hotel Street showed up at the Naval Hospital to help tend the wounded. I know of at least one who donated blood for transfusion. Today prostitutes would not be acceptable as blood donors, but after the attack they were anxious to help men they had served in other ways. Lee Soucy, USS UTAH survivorRead Charles Thy's Report
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