Sunday, December 07, 2008


December 7 1941, Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii Islands. Early in the morning...

...."Here, too, most people were still in bed. Two exceptions - Lieutenants George Welch and Ken Taylor, a couple of pilots stationed at the small Haleiwa air strip on the west coast of the island. Welch and Taylor had come over for the weekly Saturday dance. Then they got involved in an all-night poker game. Now Welch was arguing that they should forget all about bed and drive back to Haleiwa for an early-morning swim. This debate was perhaps the liveliest thing happening at Wheeler..."

(from Day of Infamy, by Walter Lord, pages 59-60).

At 8:02 am, the first Japanese dive bomber peeled off over Wheeler AFB. Bullets tore through men's lockers, bombs smashed hangars and planes. Zero fighters strafed everything that moved...

"... In the officer's club, Lieutenants Welch and Taylor stopped debating whether to go swimming. Welch grabbed the phone and called Haleiwa, where their P-40's were kept. Yes, the planes were all right... yes, they would be gassed up and loaded right away. Welch slammed down the receiver, hopped into Taylor's car, and the two careened off to Haleiwa, prodded along by a strafing Zero...."

(from Day of Infamy, by Walter Lord, page 81).

As bombs rained down on the Arizona, Nevada, Maryland, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Downes, Cassin and so many others...

..."It's hard to say how many planes really did get up from Wheeler. General Howard Davidson, commanding all the fighters, thought about 14. Air Force records indicate no P-40s and only a handful of worthless P-36s. Perhaps the general was counting in Welch and Taylor, who landed three different times and then took off again. These two were having a busy morning. After reaching Haleiwa, they had rushed straight for their planes. No briefing or checking out - Major Austin, the squadron commander, was off deerhunting, and they didn't bother with Lieutenant Rogers, the acting CO. They just took off. First they flew down to Barber Point, where the Japanese were said to be rendezvousing. Nobody there. Just as well - there hadn't beent time to belt up enough ammunition. So they dropped by Wheeler to get some more. By nine o'clock they were almost ready to take off again when seven Japanese planes swept in from Hickam for one last strafing run. Welch and Taylor gunned their P-40s and flew straight at them. Both men were up and away before the Japanese could give chase. Instead, the P-40s managed to get into the Japanese flight pattern and shot two down-one was the plane that grazed the eucalyptus tree behind Mr. Young's laundry. Then Welch and Taylor headed for Ewa, where they had seen some dive bombers at work. It was a picnic. Between them, they got four more before Taylor had to land with a wounded arm. Welch stayed on and picked off another...."

(from Day of Infamy, by Walter Lord, pages 151-152).


"Let's roll." Lieutenants Kenneth Taylor (left) and George Welch (right) bagged seven of the eleven planes shot down by Army pilots.

Tell your kids. It's important.