I Was Just a Radioman by Pamela Ackerson
Their hearts were strong, and their courage endless.
Pearl Harbor survivor, Black Cat radioman, and decorated WW 2 veteran. ARM H. P. Lawrence, tells the true story of the fight against the Japanese in this compilation of his memoirs.
One of only a handful of non-Native American code-talkers, H. P. Lawrence became a member of an elite fighting force, the Black Cats. Flying in their nocturnal missions, the Cats claws were sharp and their aim deadly.
From devastation to victory, the story of these brave men−the deadly, mysterious, and illusive Black Cats is a journey into the past where nightmares came true and hatred reigned. A time in history we should never, ever forget.
The day which will live in infamy…was just the beginning.
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Targeted Age Group:: 16+
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 1 – G Rated Clean Read
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I love history so when Mr Lawrence asked me to help him write and compile his memoirs I was thrilled. There's an incredible amount of interesting information compiled in this book. Who knew there were non-native American code-talkers? I didn't until I started writing, and researching. He didn't want fluff. He wanted a straight forward account of what these brave men did. Everything is backed up and documented.
December 7th started like any other Sunday in the service for me. Since it was my day off, I slept in, which means I didn’t have breakfast. I was planning on going to a later mass at the Chapel and just wanted to enjoy a lazy day, eat a quick lunch afterwards, and shoot the bull with the guys.
I remember being slightly aggravated because there was so much noise and I was being rudely awakened from a wonderfully sound sleep.
Everything seemed muffled at first and then the next thing that I heard was a loud noise. I practically fell out of bed, and jumped up to see what was going on. As I ran toward the window, someone said that we were being attacked by the Japs.
You have to understand, all of this took seconds, split seconds that seemed to be in slow motion—watching a train wreck that couldn’t be stopped. Every second was engraved in my eyes and brain as each movement was pulling me forward.
I ran to the balcony in my shorts where I had an excellent view of the harbor. The unmistakable sound of multiple airplane bombers coming at us thundered in my ears.
Looking up, I could see large formations of aircraft going to other targets. As I turned my head to look over the harbor, the Jap torpedo planes and dive bombers had a nice clean run at the Battleships.
With each drop of their torpedoes and bombs, I could feel the percussion of the explosions as they annihilated everything on Battleship row.
Some of the men on the ships were firing back, but it was a losing battle. Without any opposition, the Japs had everything going their way.
It was damned sad.
The clear air over the harbor was encompassed with smoke, and the clean water was turning black with oil.
Those of us in the barracks knew we had to get down to the squadron and report in. I don’t remember when I grabbed my clothes, or how I managed to dress while I was watching the destruction unfold before my eyes.
As I slipped in my shoes, a bright flash blinded me. Looking over toward Battleship Row, flames were licking the oil in the harbor.
Just about that time there was another large explosion and I could see the Arizona was on fire. The black smoke from her went straight up into the sky. The Battleships tied up at Ford Island were starting to settle to the bottom.
Our squadron was about a half mile from the barracks. On our way down the road leading to our squadron, we’d ducked for cover a few times. After the Japs dropped their bombs they started strafing.
Someone would yell and we’d hit the dirt. You could see them coming with their guns firing, but we all reported in without anyone getting hit.
The dry docks across the harbor from our barracks were in flames. I hadn’t known it then, but the USS Downes was one of the ships that was hit. (The Downes was in dry dock at the time Pearl was bombed.)
Our squadron and all the planes that we had parked two days ago were destroyed. The hanger we shared with VP21 had a couple of large gaping holes.
Since we were still under attack, the strafing aircraft kept us moving as quickly as possible. We had to get the burning planes away from the ones that weren’t on fire.
All of a sudden it was dead silent. There was an eerie stillness, a numbness after hearing all the explosions. All I could see around the harbor was burning ships. There were a lot of small whale boats and fishing boats picking up men from the oil blackened water.
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