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"Seeds of faith are always within us; sometimes it takes a crisis to nourish and encourage their growth." Susan L. Taylor

Acting like a Leader: Responding to the Crisis

Doug: After that was all over and I got back home, then I volunteered for submarine duty and they sent me to San Diego. Lena Mae was already on her way away from Hawaii. They wouldn’t let us change our abode because war had already broke out. And all I could say was meet me at the YMCA in San Francisco. I couldn’t tell her when, where, or what not, because I couldn’t tell her on the radio where we would dock or when.

So we met in San Francisco, and they sent me to San Diego to catch the S-27, which was an old type submarine. As soon as I got on her, we went to the Aleutian Islands. And from the Aleutian Islands…

Lena Mae: “Well, let’s go back to Pearl Harbor. When he went to do his duty station, the girl next door and I, we didn’t know what to do.

 

So we started over to see a friend of hers, who was about, well, I guess she lived a couple blocks away. So we were going to her house when all of the sudden, all of this shrapnel started falling all around us and we said, “oh, we’re going to get bombed again. So we turned around and flew back home because we’d rather be there than on the street somewhere. So of course all the women were gathered around because all of their husbands had gone to their duty stations.

We didn’t really know what to do, what to think. We were all scared to death.

Karen: How old were each of you?

Lena Mae: Well, at that time I was 21.

Doug: And I was 23.

Lena Mae: So anyway, the navy sent a little marine around, he was a little fellow, and he was just so out of breath. He was running all up and down the streets. Whenever he had seen a gathering, he was an ensign, they had sent him around to talk to the dependents

Karen: Like a communications liaison…

Lena Mae: Right. So he was telling us, “If the Japs come ashore, go across the street and lay down in that cane field. Well, you know, even under those circumstances that sounded real strange for us to do. But we thought, well, we’ll have to do it because the Navy said that was what we ought to do. Let’s just hope they don’t come ashore. Which at that time nobody knew at that time whether they had troop ships off the shore.

Karen: Yeah.

Lena Mae: We didn’t know.

Karen: And communications were pretty much knocked out, or limited…

Lena Mae: So just about all day Sunday or Sunday morning, we were more or less just talking among ourselves. We went down finally after the second wave of planes came over and then it ceased. We had the radio, trying to hear anything, we figured they’d have something on the radio. They were putting down a call for volunteers to go down to the hospital, which was in Pearl Harbor itself. We decided we would go down there to the gates, the Pearl Harbor gates—main gate, and put our names down that we would volunteer. So we went down there that night. First of all, they told us if you were (no, that was Monday night that we did that.) Sunday night they came around and evacuated us, took us into Honolulu, which was about 20 miles from Pearl Harbor. They came around Sunday and said, “We’re taking everyone to the YWCA in Honolulu and we will send you to people’s houses. Because they would have people calling in “we would take 3 people or we would take 4. They had sent a bus around. They told us to pack a change of clothes and any nonperishable food that we had and take it with us. So, OK, I packed a little suitcase, a little bag, with a change of clothes and maybe I had a can of beans or something.

So they took us in there and the girl next door had a sister and we told the bus driver to take us there. So, we went to her house. We spent the night, Sunday night, at the girl next door’s Sister’s house in Honolulu. The next day, Monday, we decided that, nothing happened during the night but we had the radio on as long as we could, and they would have reports of strange people they were seeing and so we didn’t know what was going on, and of course they didn’t either.

Karen: None of that was happening, though?

Lena Mae: No, it was a lot of panic.

Monday morning we decided, “Hey, this was not going to work, suppose our families come down. We said, “We’re going home.” So that’s when we heard on the radio that they were asking for volunteers to go to work in the Naval Hospital. So that night we all went down there. We had our name tags, you know our ID’s. We always had ID’s

Karen: Dogtags, like that?

Lena Mae: It was like that, but they were bigger, like a card with our picture and name on it.

Karen: But, you didn’t have a nursing background?

Lena Mae: No, we were just volunteers. We went down there and we got about maybe just from here to the living room to the gates and everything was dark because everything was blacked out, they didn’t have any lights.. Somebody says, “Who goes there?”

Lord, have mercy, we were scared us to death. He shone a flashlight, a small flashlight on us to see our ID’s. We told him what we were there for, and he said, “Well, we’ve got enough.” He said, “Go right back home.” It was only about 3-4 blocks. It wasn’t far. So they also had told us before that if we had any kind of a blue light, we could use a light. But it would have to be blue. I said I had a string of Christmas lights, and I could take all the other colors out and leave the blue. It gave me enough light we could get upstairs.

At that point, I didn’t have anything to put on the windows. Later on, they issued us the black stuff to put over the windows Until then, we could not have lights on during the night, except for the blue lights. They said, “Well, blue lights won’t shine enough to be a target. It wouldn’t put out as much light as a white light. So we could use that. And when, of course, he went home on Tuesday, we were glad that we had come in from Honolulu. Because we got to talking and said, “What if they come home?

Then, of course, things settled down. It wasn’t like before, because, of course, we were at war. The guys had to be at their duty stations. It didn’t settle down like before, because we all lived in fear. We had the black stuff over our windows and things settled down.

In December they started evacuating the dependents. By that time they had made trip ships out of the luxury liners that went back and forth from the mainland to Honolulu. So the first ones that they evacuated were the women who had children. Well, I didn’t have a child, so I could stay longer so I did manage to stay there until March.

Karen: Ya’ll were able to see each other that time?

Lena Mae: It was just like I say, he would go to work and I stayed there. It was almost normal, but we still were aware of the fact that we were at war.

I don’t know what day it was, but in March I got my orders to report at such and such a time to a certain dock so I would be evacuated and I was going to be sent to San Francisco. We went down at the appointed time, and I didn’t have much to take but I took whatever stuff we had, we took. We got to San Francisco, and I didn’t know where to go and when were getting ready to get into the San Francisco harbor, there was a knock at the door. And this very official guy wanted to speak to Mrs. Douglas Eaker. I said, “That’s me.” So he read me the message (he wouldn’t even give it to me written down), and it said, “Meet me at the YWCA in San Francisco.” That’s all it said. So that pretty much is all about up to that time when I got to San Francisco.

Every day I would go—they didn’t have a room for me, that was the first place I went. So I said, I will have to find a motel. I don’t’ even know the name of the hotel. I found a cheap hotel. We didn’t have a whole lot of money.

Karen: And no warning—it wasn’t that you had planned to be in a hotel for a period of time.

Lena Mae: Every day I’d go over to the YWCA. This went on for about 5 or 6 days I think it was.

Doug: Well, what happened…

Lena Mae: Wait a moment, let me finish this part.

Anyway, finally one day I went over there, and this woman said, “Yes, we’ve got a room for you. In fact, it will be this afternoon when you can get in.” And I said, “OK, I’ll come back.” Well, what happened was, I guess…I don’t know whether he had called them or what. They set up a time for me to be there. That afternoon, well, I was Johnny on the spot. Whatever time they told me to come back, I came back. So, they greeted me, you know, and they said, come on back, I have something to show you. and I said, “OK,” so I went back with them and they had him in a room

Karen: And you had a reunion.

Lena Mae: Course I had no idea that he was there, but he had evidently been in touch with them, and I don’t know what he did—called them up, or something. That was the reunion. He was ordered to go to San Diego.

Doug: What happened when I got out of Pearl Harbor, I had to climb up the hauser to get on the U. S. S. Chaumont, which was a passenger cruise ship, to come back to San Francisco, and that was the last hauser they had when I climbed up that hauser and got on.

Lena Mae: As soon as they took me down to the ship, he went back to the captain or whoever his commanding officer was, and he said, “I want out. Put me on a ship. Put me on a submarine.” Or something like that.

Doug: So they assigned me to the USS S-27, which was an old-type submarine. It was based in San Diego. So I went to San Diego on the USS S-27.

Karen: Had you ever been in a submarine before?

Doug: No, that was the first submarine. I was stationed on a submarine base, but that was my first submarine.

So we took off, as soon as I got aboard, and we hauled out for the Aleutian Islands. And we got into Dutch Harbor, and darned if the Japs didn’t bomb Dutch Harbor. And we had to take the submarine away from the pier and take it down to the bottom.

Karen: So you ended up being in both of them [attacks]…

That wasn’t the first time that they ever tried to get me. The first time was in Shanghai China when we were tied up on the USS Augusta in the Whangpoo River. They dropped a Japanese shell on the well deck of the USS Augusta and killed Freddie J. Falgout, who was sitting 12 seats in front of me at the movie. That was 1936 or 37 when that happened. [This happened on August 20, 1937.]

Lena Mae: This guy that wrote the book, The Day of Infamy, the guy that wrote it, what was his name, Jack [sic] Lord? He interviewed him for that book. And he’s in it, whatever he said.

Doug: I was in the book, and that’s it. And we’re here.

Karen: All these years later, you’re still here. [The Day of Infamy was written by Walter Lord. Doug is mentioned on pages 162, 221 and 232.]