Read this first hand account from a Sacramento veteran.This sounds like it came right from Shirley's Uncle himself.
ROBERT E. ALEXANDER, 79, RIALTO Dec. 7, 1941: High school senior in Navy Reserve USS Sacramento (PG-19)
Bob Alexander, a 19-year-old from Indianapolis, had a front-row view from the Sacramento, a river gunboat moored in Pearl Harbor's Navy Yard.
Everyone aboard the training ship was a part-time Naval reservistfrom Indianapolis, Ind., Alexander says. The Sacramento enteredPearl Harbor in August 1941 and conducted defense patrols inHawaiian waters.
"When the shooting started I was on the mess deck in the aft partof the ship having breakfast," he recalls. "I heard bombs andmachines guns . . . then GQ. I ran up a ladder to my .30-calibermachine gun on the fantail."
Alexander stood there for what seemed nearly an hour, unable to shoot as the attack unfolded. "The captain was ashore. And he had the only key to the ammo holds." While waiting, he took pictures with a black and white camera.
Through his viewfinder Alexander saw Japanese planes drop torpedoes off the Sacramento's stern. "Their wing tips were no morethan 100 feet away. I could see the pilots smiling."
He witnessed torpedoes slam into the Oklahoma, and saw its crew walk over her hull as she capsized. He watched the attacks on theArizona and the West Virginia, where he knew a best friend wasaboard.
Alexander was amazed that the enemy flew right over nearby submarines and fuel tanks but never touched them.
Finally the executive officer took over, ammo was distributed andthe ship's gunners opened fire, aiding in the downing of at leasttwo enemy planes.
"Incendiary bullets from the (Japanese) machine guns cut down theU.S. flag over my head. It was a special silk flag we always flewon Sundays."
But sheltered in a pocket between a dock and other ships, the Sacramento sustained no damage, says Alexander.