Monday, December 7, 2009

December 7, 1941

The USS Tennessee at Pearl Harbor

By Kenneth Fieth, Metropolitan Nashville Archivist

"There were so many of them flying together that they looked like one. They came through the valley very close to the ground and I could clearly see the rising sun on the end of each wing. Not a few minutes later, the rumbling sounds of multiple explosions rolled through the pineapple field." The missionary's son whose jet-black hair is now gray waved his hand in a dive as he recalled the first time he ever saw a Japanese warplane. His first lesson occurred on Sunday morning, December 7th, 1941.

The men of the USS Tennessee, moored on Battleship Row in Pearl Harbor, had a far more harrowing experience. The following excerpt is from the official after-action report filed by the Commanding Officer of the Tennessee on December 11, 1941.

"On Sunday, December 7, 1941, the USS Tennessee was moored starboard side to quay Fox 6 [in Naval terms that is a berth for the ship lettered as "F 6"] with two hausers and seven manila lines. The USS [West] Virginia was moored alongside to port. Boiler #1 was steaming for auxillary purposes....This ship was the flagship of Commander Battleship Division Two....the USS Arizona was moored about 75 yards ahead and astern of the Tennessee.

At about 7:55, planes, observed to be Japanese by their markings, were seen dropping bombs on Ford Island. [Ford Island is in the center of Pearl Harbor and was used for mooring the ships of "Battleship Row"]. This ship [Tennessee] went to general quarters....Immediately, after the bombing of Ford Island, planes began torpeoding and bombing the battleships and other ships in the Harbor. This ship opened fire with .50 caliber and 5" caliber guns about five minutes after the attack.

To continue reading: Click Here.

Note: The article, as can be seen in the excerpt above, initially misidentifies the USS West Virginia as the USS Virginia but gets it correct thereafter.

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