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"It was then that I saw the big, round, red insignia…"(Video interview, 14:25)

   Earl Jay Kohler
Collection image
Earl Kohler [detail from video]
War: World War, 1939-1945
Branch: Navy
Unit: USS Saint Paul (CA 73); VP-23 (Patrol Squadron)
Service Location: Pearl Harbor, Ford Island and Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii; Majuro (Marshall Islands)
Rank: Petty Officer First Class
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An early riser, Earl Jay Kohler was in the airplane hanger on Ford Island writing a letter to his mother on the morning of December 7th. After getting hit by shrapnel, he disobeyed direct orders to stay put and ran to get enough ammo to fire back. With guns in hand, he and his comrades worked hard to repel the second wave of Japanese bombers from Ford Island. During and after the attack, his greatest fear was not bombs or bullets--but the threat of court martial for disobeying his officer’s orders not to shoot back.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (3 clips)
» Part 1 
Download: video (62 min.)
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»Pearl Harbor
 Video (Interview Excerpts) (3 items)
Assigned to early morning watch on Ford Island; typing a letter to his mother; heard approaching aircraft and thought it was a pilot hot-dogging; heard a tremendous roar; hit by shrapnel and glass; realized the Japanese were attacking. (05:18) Initially dove into ditch; realizing it was the start of war; wanting to die fighting, not hiding; running to the ammo shack; shooting at planes; scaring planes away from the hanger. (09:30) Did not worry about bombs, worried mostly about disobeying direct orders; spent three days dodging officers; finally confronted by officer who had told him to stay put; officer told him to go to sick bay to have his wounds examined. (06:02)

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  October 26, 2011
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