Remembrance: Oregonian recalls uncle’s Pearl Harbor experience

Uncle Jimmy and the Blue
By John in Oregon

Jimmy was a simple seaman. A hard times flat land farmers son. His father not allowed to grow crops for the family and with few other prospects Jimmy had joined the Navy. It wasn’t a bad life for a flat land farmer. This particular day after a long voyage and fighting bad weather Jimmy’s ship was late to port. The old man got on the horn. It’s been a hard voyage and we have an inspection but I am going to give overnight shore leave. Everyone report at 09:00 tomorrow morning. You will have 24 hours to make this ship ready for inspection when you return.And so Jimmy, the son of a flat land farmer, was part of the skeleton crew for the night and morning. Jimmy woke to explosions and the general quarters klaxon. The gunners mate pressed the cook into service. The pointy thing goes into that round hole, close this door and push down that lever. Up the ladder was the next problem. The gun tarps were in place for inspection. No problem. The gunners mate elevated the gun and fired a round. Tarp gone.

Tracking attackers so low that the wing markings were clearly visible. Track and fire, track and fire, the gunners mate fired round after round. One hit and smoke trail. Tracking the next, click. Down below the gunners mate found a pinched finger injury. Big guy, you handle the pointy thing, little guy you close the door. The gun was back in action.

Top side the boilers still alight the Ensign ordered full power. A few births down the California took a hit. Boiling black smoke giving cover as the Blue was in action returning fire. Then the Ensign ordered turns, we need room to fight.

Flank speed, damn the harbor limits, the Destroyer Blue put to sea, Ensign in command, guns in action. Pulling attackers from the main fleet as the Blue returned fire.

At the end of the war my father moved the family back to our farm. We lost track of Uncle Jimmy but I kept the sailors cap he gave me. I don’t remember much of Uncle Jimmy, but I remember that day.

I remember that day, Sunday, December 7, 1941. The day my Uncle Jimmy and the Destroyer Blue went to war. The day my father and Douglas Aircraft began building aircraft for America. The day my grandfather began to repair the tack so he and the team, Babe and Blue, could plant in the spring for our boys.

I remember those that came before Jimmy. Those that fought with Jimmy and those that came after him. From Tripoli to Normandy, from Guadalcanal to Inchon the only amount of land we have ever asked for in return is enough to bury those that did not return.

Thank you Sons and Daughters of America. Thank you Uncle Jimmy.