- Category: USS Arizona Survivor Stories
- Last Updated: Saturday, 21 November 2015 21:56
- Published: Sunday, 21 April 2002 00:00
There were movies in port on the fantail of the ship. The electrician mate with the schooling in operating the projector showed the movies from a special projector booth mounted alongside the number 3 turret on the port side. The officers and chiefs had chairs to sit on, but the enlisted men had to stand on the deck. For a while, we used buckets to stand on so we could see better. But someone had to spoil that by using dirty oil buckets that stained the wooden decks. Anyone caught using a bucket was put on report after that.
It was either 1940 or 1941 that all capitol ships rated a band on board. This was really a great addition. They usually gave concerts before the movies and, very often, a select few would play during the noon hour. All of the band members were ammunition handlers during general quarters.
When we were in port and didn't have the duty, the men liked looking through their photo albums. The men who had been in the longest, and had seen many places, usually had the best photos to show and stories to tell.
Most of the men I talked to had joined the Navy to see the world, learn a trade and some to make it a career. The men were above average. We never had to worry about stealing or foul play. There just seemed to be a code of ethics that everyone lived by. Before the war started, I thought I would spend most of my career on the USS Arizona.
We could either wash our own clothes or take them to the laundry. Each division had a certain day and time they could be dropped off. Anyone using the laundry bought a special knit laundry bag with their own tag on it. Most of us used the laundry for the convenience. Trying to dry wet laundry wasn't easy if there wasn't a space out of the way to hang it.
All the men who could go on liberty could answer liberty call when it was sounded. Before we could leave the ship, the officer of the deck had us line up in two rows so he could inspect us. Our uniforms had to be clean and pressed and our shoes polished. At this time the deck assistants would hand out our liberty cards. As we left the ship, we would first salute him and ask for permission to leave the ship. When he granted us permission, we then saluted the quarter-deck and went down the ladder to the launch that took us to the landing pier. There was a short walk to the main gate where we showed our liberty cards again before boarding the buses that took us in to Honolulu.
The engineering wash room was just off our compartment in the middle of the ship. It was here where we could wash clothes, shower, shave, etc. The "head" was on the second deck forward in the bow of the ship.
On Sunday morning, December 7, 1941, our electrician's gang had just finished breakfast. My close friend, Kenneth Keniston, and I were standing by our lockers talking about what we would do on liberty that day. Kenny was putting on his whites to go to Catholic church service aboard the USS Nevada.
While we were talking by our lockers, a chief petty officer came running from the fireroom blower intake room, which was just off the electrician's compartment, shouting, "The japs are attacking! Close all battle ports and man your battle stations!" We were all stunned, until a first class electrician's mate said, "If it's so, let's do it." No one said a word. We immediately started running for our battle stations.