Excerpts from the
by Colonel Richard Camp, USMC
Marine Detachment USS Arizona
7 December 1941
“And The Band Played On”
The Petty Officer of the watch checked the bulkhead clock. It was exactly 0755. He nodded to a signalman, who raised the white and blue “Prep” flag on the Navy Yard water tower, signaling the ships in Pearl Harbor to prepare for morning colors. 1 (The water tower stood a hundred and seventy-six feet over the water, giving it a commanding view of the harbor. It had a wooden structure on the top, which was used as a signaling station. The “Prep” signal, a white square in a solid field of blue, is the international flag code for the letter P. While Prep can have several meanings, when raised at 0755, it means that morning colors would go in exactly five minutes. USS Arizona’s four-man Marine color guard marched purposely toward the fantail beneath the tautly stretched white canvas awning. The leather soles of their highly polished shoes struck the teak deck with a measured cadence. Their NCO, a Corporal, barked a command and the detail halted crisply at the flagstaff. The Field Music, took several precise steps, turned, and raised the bugle to his lips.
The rest of the detail busied themselves with unlashing the halyard and attaching its snaps to the flag’s grommets. The Corporal checked to ensure they were attached properly; he was well aware what would happen if the flag was raised upside down, it would be a career ending event. He glanced at his watch and noted with satisfaction that they were right on time - 0755.
A working party of sailors setting up chairs for Sunday church service took the opportunity to dope off; morning colors would sound in five minutes. All along battleship row, men prepared to raise the stars and stripes. However, aboard the USS Nevada, the Junior Officer of Deck (JOOD) was in a sweat trying to find out if the color guard had the correct sized flag. He sent a messenger to call over to the Arizona, which was moored only 20 to 30 feet away (bow to stern), to find out what they were using. 2 (Gordon W. Prange, Dec 7 1941, The Day the Japanese Attacked Pearl Harbor. McGraw-Hill Book Company. New York: 1988. p. 106)
Unlike Arizona’s single bugler, Nevada’s entire 23-piece band mustered in formation on the fantail. The captain of the Arizona had given his band permission to sleep in because of their participation in Saturday night’s battle of the bands.
Marine Major Alan Shapley was up early, even though he didn’t have any official duties. He had been relieved as detachment commander the previous day. However, he was the player-coach—and leading hitter—of the ship’s baseball team and was scheduled to play that afternoon against the Enterprise nine for the championship of the Pacific Fleet. After dressing, he went to the wardroom for breakfast.
He helped himself to a large stack of pancakes, topped with eggs, his favorite week-end breakfast, and picked out a seat in the near empty wardroom to work his way through the flapjacks.
Below decks, Corporal Earl C. Nightingale was also eating a leisurely breakfast. Around him, the mess deck was alive with light hearted banter as sailors and Marines of the off-duty section moved through the chow line.
High overhead, Commander Mitsuo Fuchida, Imperial Japanese Navy, led a mixed strike force of fighters, high level bombers and torpedoes planes toward the unsuspecting Pacific Fleet anchorage. As Fuchida approached Pearl Harbor, he looked down through his binoculars. “What a majestic sight, almost unbelievable. There lay the beautifulharbor with all the great ships at anchor…” 3 (Gordon W. Prange, God’s Samurai, Lead Pilot at Pearl Harbor, Wash: Bassey’s (US), Inc, 1990) At 0749, he radioed the signal: “To! (Charge) To! (Charge) To! (Charge)”
The Nevada’s band master raised his baton and swept it down. The first notes of “The Star Spangled Banner” echoed across the fantail, mixed with the unmistakable scream of a diving aircraft. The Marine color guard quickly raised “Old Glory” to the top of the flagstaff. Suddenly an unfamiliar plane roared low over Arizona, angling sharply upward over the formation. Incredulously, machine guns bullets spewed from the rear gun, chewing up the teak deck and ripping the flag to shreds—however, “the band played on!” never missing a beat. Miraculously, not a single member was scratched but, on the last obviated note, the formation scattered for cover.
Shapley was just finishing breakfast when, “I heard this terrible bang and crash. I thought it was a motor sailer that they had dropped on the fantail, and I ran up there to see what it was all about. When I got up on deck…I heard a sailor say, ‘This is the best damned drill the Army Air Corps has ever put on.’ Then I saw a destroyer being blown up in the dry dock across the way.” 4 (Marine Monograph, last page) Corporal Nightingale had finished breakfast. “I was just leaving the compartment when the ship’s siren sounded “air defense.” I heard an explosion…the Marine Color Guard ran in, saying we were under attack!”
Lieutenant Commander Logan Ramsey, operations officer, Patrol Wing Two on Ford Island, turned to a fellow officer. “That was a Jap plane and a delayed action bomb.” 5 (Prange, 7 Dec p. 164) He ordered the radioman to send out a plain English message. “AIR RAID, PEARL HARBOR. THIS IS NO DRILL!”
The Merry Point boat landing was a beehive of activity; the Pacific Battle Fleet was in the harbor for a short break between training exercises. 6 (The landing, named after Rear Admiral John Merry, was located between the navy yard and the submarine base. Colonel John Earle described it thusly, “When standing in the middle of the landing, a long concrete dock lined with buildings was on the left. On the right, a short planked wood transverse dock led to the submarine base. It was a busy place, liberty parties coming and going and supplies being delivered to the ships.”) Motor launches jockeyed for space along the crowded berth. They were filled with sailors impatient to begin Cinderella liberty along Honolulu’s notorious Hotel Street. Working parties manhandled jumbled piles of crates and boxes under the watchful eyes Petty Officers. Officers in crisp whites and Marines in starched khaki strode purposely on official business through the disorder, coming from or going to the dreadnaughts moored in pairs along Ford Island. The open expanse of water between the landing and the great ships echoed with the clamor of the daily routine—high pitched Boatswain’s pipes, emergency signal tests, bugle calls and the all pervasive demand, “Now hear this.” A slight onshore breeze brought the stench of diesel fuel, overwhelming the flower-scented fragrance of Pearl Harbor’s tropical plants.
Twenty-one year old Private Henry Kalinowski was filled with excitement. A recent graduate of Sea School, he was reporting for duty with the Marine Detachment, USS Arizona, flagship of Battleship Division 1. He made his way across the wooden planks of the landing, struggling with the heavy, unwieldy khaki colored seabag balanced on his shoulder. Sweat stained his khaki uniform. He looked like a “soup sandwich,” nowhere near the squared away appearance of a seagoing Marine. The seeming confusion on the dock added to his apprehension. He was deeply worried about how he was going to get to the ship. Suddenly, a voice called out, “Arizona,” as a 50 foot motor launch, with the letters “ARIZ” on its brow, nudged the landing. The Coxswain, a Boatswain’s Mate Second Class, handled the craft with a confident poise. He certainly looked the part to the young Marine—dazzling white uniform, erect posture and a white “Dixie Cup” hat perched rakishly low on his brow, a regulation 2-fingers above the bridge of his nose. With a sign of relief, Kalinowski climbed aboard, stowed his seabag, and settled back for the short ride to the ship.
The Boatswain’s Mate gunned the engine, maneuvered beautifully out of the slip, and headed for the Arizona, which was moored to a quay on the east side Ford Island. As the launch approached the great battleship’s port gangway, the Coxswain made a neat “two bell” landing (“engine back” and “engine stop”). It was held steady against the accommodation ladder by two crewmen with boat hooks. Kalinowski stepped out of the launch onto the wooden platform, leaving his seabag to be winched aboard with the other assorted equipment and baggage. He climbed to the top of the ladder, came to attention, faced the flagstaff on the stern and saluted the National Ensign. He then faced the Officer of the Deck, who had a telescope under his arm—a distinctive “badge of office,”—and saluted. “Permission to come aboard,” he requested. “Permission granted,” the young officer responded, returning the salute in the time honored custom of coming aboard a man-o-war. The young Marine stepped onto the teak quarterdeck, overwhelmed by the sheer size of the gray behemoth.
The 33,000 ton Pennsylvania Class dreadnaught was over 600 feet long, the length of two football fields, and 100 feet wide. Her superstructure loomed a 100 feet over the harbor waters. Four huge main battery turrets, two forward and two aft squatted menacingly on the main deck. A secondary battery of twenty-two 5-inch 51-caliber guns was mounted in casemates within the superstructure deckhouse. The ship also mounted eight 5-inch 25-caliber guns on top of the superstructure deckhouse, four to a side and eight .50 caliber machine guns, for anti-aircraft defense. She was home to over 1,700 officers and men, including the 85-man detachment of Marines.
The Arizona was five years older than Kalinowski and the third warship to bear the name. She was the product of the Brooklyn Navy Yard and a Congress that was increasingly concerned with American’s ability to maintain control of the sea lines of communication and commerce. A strong Navy was essential in maintaining freedom of the sea. In 1913, Congress authorized construction of a second Pennsylvania class battleship, a new line of “super dreadnaughts.” The ship was to be named Arizona, after the 48th State. Construction started in March 16, 1914, when shipyard cranes lifted massive steel plates into place to form the keel. (Navy photo 1, “Birth of the Arizona) Giant curved forms were added, to act as “ribs” to support the skin of the ship. (Navy photos, 2, 3, 4, 5) Decks and bulkheads followed, transforming the odd steel skeleton into the look of a ship.
After more than a year, Arizona was ready to be christened. A special medal was struck commemorating the event and presented to the “official guests.” It was purportedly made of gun metal from the USS Maine, which was destroyed in Havana Harbor, sparking the Spanish-American War. The face of the medal was stamped “Arizona” in Greek lettering, while the reverse bore the inscription, “U.S.S. Arizona, launched June 1915.” An 80 piece silver service, designed by Reed and Barton, was commissioned for presentation to the ship. Each piece was emblazoned with the State coat-of-arms. Its $10,000 price tag was paid for by individual citizens and the six largest mining companies in the state. (In 1940, prior to the Arizona sailing for Hawaii the silver service was taken from the ship and placed in storage. It now resides in the State capital rotunda)
A great celebration was planned. The Secretary of the Navy, Josephus Daniels, headed the Washington delegation, which included a Congressman, two cabinet-level secretaries and the little known Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Franklin D. Roosevelt. Governor W. P. Hunt led the 59-member state committee. One of its members, Ms. Esther Ross of Prescott, was appointed by Hunt to christen the ship. (Navy photo 6) The seventeen year old high school student was the daughter of a prominent Arizona citizen—and political confidant to the Governor. On the eve of the ceremony, Ms. Ross was quoted as saying, “This is one of the greatest honors that ever could befall a girl. But it is my sincere wish that the vessel I am to christen will be used to keep the peace rather than make war.” A quarter century later her comments foreshadowed a “Day of Infamy,” instead of keeping the peace, Arizona symbolized the embodiment of war-time fervor.
was the subject of some controversy. A June 18, 1915 edition of the
New York Review heralded:
“No Grape Juice Christening for Arizona.”
The super dreadnought Arizona will be christened at New York tomorrow with champagne, and a bottle of water also will be broken over her bow for good measure.
The wine will be used to satisfy all those people who believe a warship is not a real warship unless it is christened with something stronger than water. The water will be used to satisfy the prohibitionists of the state. But that is not all: the water which is to be used is from the Roosevelt dam, and a lot of the Bull Moose are insisting that nothing could be more calculated to make a battleship fight than to christen it with water from a dam that bears the name of the erstwhile Colonel of the Rough Riders.
Governor Hunt of
Arizona, who is here at the head of the State party on the way to christen
the battleship, is a Democrat. The responsibility of deciding the christening
was put up to him by the Navy Department.
Governor Hunt looked pained today when newspaper men pressed him with the question whether it was to be water or wine. He was inclined to talk about the hot weather, but finally admitted wine would be used.
“You know, we believe in punch in Arizona,” said the Governor, “and many people in our state think the ship must be christened with something that has a punch to it.”
Others of the party said that, while wine was to be used, a bottle of water would also be broken over the vessel to satisfy the Prohibitionists and the Bull Moosers.”
The two christening bottles, one wrapped in copper bands from Arizona mines and the other encased in silver, were custom ordered from New York’s Tiffany Company. (Sherlot Hall Museum, USS Arizona: The Vessel and the Vassal Who Christened Her, Terry Munderloh, internet) Despite the controversy, the president of the New York State Women’s Christian Temperance movement promised that her organization would not interfere with the christening, “Neither protest, nor delegation will be made to Governor Hunt.” However, to be on the safe side, special security precautions were taken. Extra yard police were brought on duty. Only those with tickets were admitted through four designated gates. Finally, harbor craft were warned to stay close to the Manhattan shoreline an hour before and an hour after the christening.
Hours before the 1 p.m. ceremony, thousands of invited guests swarmed into the navy yard. They were serenaded by a U.S. Navy band, playing patriotic music. The crowd was in a holiday mood, as the official party took its place on a raised wooden platform. The ceremony commenced with a brief prayer, followed by remarks by the various dignitaries. Finally, Ms. Ross rose and stepped close to the ship’s bow where the two christening bottles hung suspended from ropes, wreathed in red, white and blue ribbons. Ms. Ross grasped the bottles and swung them with all her might—she had practiced at home with syrup and barley bottles—and shouted, “I christen thee Arizona!” The wine bottle broke however, the water bottle stayed intact—avoiding the bad omen of christening a ship with water. Ms. Ross stepped back to be congratulated by the official party, amidst the roar of the crowd.
platform, hidden by the maze of timbers, an unknown shipyard employee
pushed a hydraulic trigger, which released Arizona’s wooden cradle.
Slowly at first, but with gathering speed, the ship slid stern first
down the ways, to the cheers of the vast throng. She plunged into the
East River with a gigantic splash, sending waves cascading along the
shore. Contemporary photos show the launch proceeding without a hitch,
neither bottle—wine nor water—so much as scratched the paint
off her armored hull. .
A news article of the time described the event.
As yard tugs pushed Arizona’s hulk into her berth, the official party adjourned to the venerable Twenty-Third Regiment Armory, Bedford and Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn for a lunch, sponsored by the shipyard employees. There was no mention of whether alcoholic libations were served, nor if the rich and famous survived rubbing elbows with the hard scrabble workforce.