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"It was worse than you can imagine." (Video interview, 4:14)

   James J. Doyle
Collection image
James Doyle [detail from video]
War: World War, 1939-1945
Branch: Navy
Unit: USS Lexington (CV 2); Squadron 2
Service Location: Pacific Theater; Pearl Harbor
Rank: Photographer's Mate First Class
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Taught to fly at the age of 14 by a barn-storming friend, James Doyle spent his time in the Navy as an aerial photographer. On December 7th, he grabbed his camera to document the first wave of the attack. After the second wave, he flew reconnaissance over the surrounding area, only to confront friendly fire on his return to Pearl Harbor. Over the next two years, he would survive the Battle of Coral Sea, Guadalcanal, and being shot down by the Japanese while taking photos over Florida Island.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (5 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: video (42 min.)
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»Pearl Harbor
 Video (Interview Excerpts) (5 items)
Enlistment; got to skip flight school; had to be taught to fly "the Navy way." (01:02) Details of attack; soldiers bleeding, dying, hollering for help; smell of burnt bodies and tar; hiding under scrap metal; Japanese pilots flying 10 feet off the ground; Japanese spared Naval hospital ship. (03:29) Chaos after attack; everyone spooked; retrieving bodies; wounded servicemen were soaked in tar and oil. (00:59)
Battle of Coral Sea; returned to USS Lexington from photo mission; found the Lexington on fire; landed on burning deck; bailing out; picked up by another ship; watching the Lexington sink. (04:32) Flying photographic mission over the island of Florida; shot down; woke up 22 days later in hospital in Brisbane, missing the top of his head; sent back to States. (04:23) 

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