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"From that point on, it was pure havoc…"(Video interview, 10:07)

   William Henry Harvey
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War: World War, 1939-1945; Korean War, 1950-1953; Vietnam War, 1961-1975
Branch: Navy; Navy; Navy
Unit: 4th Battalion, 16th Division
Service Location: Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; Pacific Theater
Rank: Cook First Class
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Though segregation in the Navy limited him to serving as a Cook First Class, William Henry Harvey did much more aboard ship than simply prepare food: when needed, he would also serve as an alternate medic and signal officer. When the bombs fell on December 7th, 1941, he assisted in rescuing sailors from the burning harbor. A veteran of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, he is still haunted by the horrors he witnessed at Pearl Harbor--and the discrimination he faced as an African American sailor.

Interview (Audio)
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»Pearl Harbor
 Audio (Interview Excerpts) (5 items)
Reveille and breakfast the morning of the attack; most of the ship getting ready to go on leave; raising the flag when he saw planes approaching; bombs and torpedoes being dropped; gathering rifles and ammo; trying to get men out of water. (03:53) Headed to Sunday school that morning; wearing brand new tailor-made “whites”; uniform cost a month’s pay, and was ruined during attack; friendly fire; Monday, December 8th, his ship went out on patrol, looking for Japanese submarines; sailing to Guam, Midway, and Palmyra islands. (03:46) Segregation in Navy; blacks not offered the same opportunities or ranks as whites; as a cook, he did more than just prepare meals; he would assist with the medics, also with Morse code, sometimes served as a signal officer; took and passed the exams to enter the V-12 program, but the Navy deemed him irreplaceable. (02:51)
Thoughts on segregation in the military; frustrations at doing the same jobs as white but not getting promoted; could only get a temporary promotion; working to gather wounded from the beach and then having to return to the ship and cook meals; hurdles made him determined to succeed. (03:28) Will never forget the horror of the attack; going to see the memorial at the USS Arizona; meeting sailors from other ships and embracing them; realizing how lucky they were; the heroism of ordinary soldiers. (05:38) 

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