My Pearl Harbor Experience

My name is Robert F. Swift, and this is what I heard and saw on December 7, 1941, as a seven-year-old boy.

We had just come home after going to church, but before that we went to Hadly's Bakery. My father bought a box full of pastries. My m0ther was frying bacon and I was dunking a sugar donut when all of a sudden, we heard loud booms and gun fire. We all ran out to see what was going on. We could see black smoke and fire coming from Pearl Harbor. We just lived eight miles away. It lasted a long time.

In the next couple of days, we were vaccinated, finger printed, and given a gas mask to take to school.. My father and brother-in-law worked at Pearl. Anyway, at Christmas time we went to Liolio School Hall with black-out windows. The grown-ups sang songs and we were given a paper sack with an apple, orange, a piece of candy and a little toy.

It did not take long for an Army truck to pull in front of our yard. They placed sand bags and installed a machine gun with two Army guys. Yes, we were in a WAR zone. The beaches were all closed with barbed wire. The locals could not even go in the water to fish. All they had at the stores was a lot of Spam, canned corn beef, sardines, Vienna sausage and some olive cans of food.

We were under Marshall Law four or five years. Nobody has ever mentioned about the local people and what they went through. Soon my two brothers joined the Army and my last brother, after turning 18 went too. Nobody had older brothers around. They were all gone. My Mother had three stars on her door. Later on, when it was my turn, I joined the Navy and served aboard the U.S.S Calvert APA-32.

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