B. Young

Pearl Harbor

Sunday, December 7, 1941. Grandpa and Grandma have told us this story many times before. When I first heard the stories, I just listened intently, but recently I have been trying to get more details about their lives during this time.

The Attack

My Grandparents at the time lived on the corner of Beretania and Piikoi. Grandpa was working in construction. He was at a constuction site right above Pearl Harbor when the first wave of Zero's struck. "We could see everything," he said.

He vividly remembers a big billowing cloud of smoke, and seeing a battleship tipping over in the harbor.

They left work early that day, and he recalled having to dive out of their Jeep into the ditches beside the road, because of stray anti-aircraft fire.

My Grandpa's parents were visiting from Hilo, and had just boarded their Hawiaian Airlines flight back to the Big Island of Hawaii, when the attack started. They had to come off the plane, and at one point were laying on the ground to stay safe. My Grandmother had accompanied them to the airport and recalled the chaos. They actually later returned to the Big Island by boat.

Later that day a neighbor was killed by stray anti-aircraft fire while she was at home.

The Days After the Attack

When he did go back to work, my Grandpa remembered soldiers with rifles checking their vehicle as they went back to their construction site. "It was spooky," he said.

He also spoke of later working on a tunnel under Red Hill, which at the time was "just a big cave."

My Grandma remembers that they did not have a refrigerator at that time, and she shopped at a local market almost every day. Once the war broke out, there was a run on the store for food and supplies. The market was packed, but one of the workers their recognized her as a regular customer, and called her up to the front of the line, helping to make sure she had all she needed.

The 1960 Tsunami in Hilo, Hawaii

My mother graduated from Hilo High School in 1960. That was the year when a big tsunami hit Hilo. According to the tsunami.org website:

The tsunami to strike the state of Hawai'i on May 23, 1960 was generated from a 8.3 earthquake in Chile. Much of the damage occurred in Hilo, Hawai'i, where 61 people were killed, 537 buildings destroyed and damages totaled over $23 million.

While more then 24 hours warning was given that that a tidal wave would hit the Big Island at 12 o'clock, midnight, many people seemingly ignored the warning. My mother recalled that the tsunami hit later then predicted. She said she was listening to the radio at her A'ala Lane home, but turned it off and went to sleep after nothing happened. (While I was watching a documentary about the tsunami, they showed a large clock stuck on 1:10 am, the time Hilo was actually hit).

Early the next morning she went out to view the damage. Just down the street on Kilauea Avenue, the devastation was apparent. She ran into an older gentleman, who had just awaken and who had come outside to see what all the commotion was about. He had slept through the whole thing, and found everything under his house swept away.

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