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december 7th Revisited - M. Carlin; Wings of Gold Charles Schleininger corsair "I was a sailor on the USS Enterprise in
1969 off Hawaii preparing for CVN-65's
4th WestPac tour ... One morning,
entering Pearl
harbor, I saw a flight of 3 curious looking
aircraft approaching the ship. They were
Kates, vintage Japanese 2-seater
torpedo planes! They circled Enterprise
several times before departing. Next day
we went back to sea for Operational
Readiness Inspection during which a
Zuni rocket on an F-4 Phantom
overheated & exploded causing a major
conflagration during which we lost 28
men & sustained 371 total causalities.
We had to go back to Pearl for a 3-month
repair period.

We were tied up across the harbor from
Battleship Row & Ford Island. A
simulated super structure, identical to the
West Virginia's, stood alone on the
concrete pier of Battleship Row. Once
more, on the flight deck, I heard the drone
of prop aircraft approaching. I was
astonished to see a Kate in a shallow
dive heading for Battleship row. It flew
across our bow & as it leveled off just
above our flight deck, the pilot dropped a
torpedo! A heavy machine gun on the
West Virginia fired at the torpedo bomber.

As a lowly swab, no one told any of us
what was going on. It was obvious that
somebody was making a movie. The
machine gun fire was blanks, the torpedo
a dud. The torpedo attacks went on for
several days & clusters of Big E sailors
routinely gathered on the bow, making
fragrant gestures at the "enemy" planes ...

As it turned out the movie being made
was Tora, Tora, Tora. I can understand
the motive for producing such a film. But I
must admit we sailors were moved to
various displays of outrage, watching
these "attacks". For just a few yards away,
the shattered hulk of Arizona lay in silence
of her watery grave. Perhaps the spirits of
those 1,100 men lost on Arizona felt rage
as well."

Wings of Gold - Fall 99

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