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"The rumors were flying thick and fast, and you didn’t know what to believe…" (Audio interview, 24:27)

   Frank Thomas Oravecz
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War: World War, 1939-1945
Branch: Army
Unit: Battery E, 64th Coast Anti-Aircraft Artillery
Service Location: Pacific Theater; Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; Fort Shafter, Hawaii; Puget Sound, Washington
Rank: Sergeant
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For Thomas Oravecz, enlisting in the Army provided a way out of the coal mines of West Virginia; serving in Hawaii offered the promise of balmy conditions and a chance to play baseball. Even as he saw Japanese planes flying overhead, it was unbelievable that his home for two years was under attack. The day’s turmoil didn’t end there: reports circulated that the Japanese would return for another attack or invasion. Come nightfall, soldiers shot at anything that moved--including the mongooses rustling in the bushes.

Interview (Audio)
»Interview Highlights  (6 clips)
»Complete Interview | Complete Interview 
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Download: audio(2) (101 min.)
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»Pearl Harbor
 Audio (Interview Excerpts) (6 items)
Hearing explosions on the morning of the attack; seeing smoke from Schofield Barracks; thinking it was a fire or sugar cane fields burning; planes flying very close overhead. (05:20) Japanese pilots waving from planes overhead; flying about the same level as the treetops; seeing torpedoes being dropped on the USS Raleigh; finally realizing that the Japanese were attacking Pearl Harbor. (01:56) [Previous Highlight Continued] (03:01)
Watching Japanese dive bombers; absolute chaos of attack; second wave of attack; everything in harbor burning; one of his comrades sleeping through entire attack. (09:25) Going to his barracks, which had been hit by a shell; comrade who had been hit; shell that hit barracks was fired by US ship in Pearl Harbor. (07:58) Not being able to eat the day of the attack; rumors and bullets flying as soon as the sun went down; soldiers shooting at everything; friendly fire on B-17s that flew into Hickam Field; finally being able to eat the next day; eating the best-tasting bread of his life. (08:07)

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  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
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