December 7, 1941: “The Day That Will Live in Infamy”

“Remember Pearl Harbor”

“At 7:55 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941, a Japanese force of 183 airplanes attacked U.S. military and naval facilities on Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands without warning. For 30 minutes, dive bombers, level bombers and torpedo planes struck airfields and naval vessels.
“After a 15-minute lull, a second wave of 170 planes launched another attack at 8:40 a.m. that lasted an hour. Casualties to U.S. service personnel were 2,343 killed, 960 missing and 1,272 wounded; Japanese aircraft destroyed 151 U.S. planes on the ground and sank or damaged all eight U.S. battleships at anchor in Pearl Harbor. At a cost of only 28 airplanes shot down, the Japanese had dealt the United States a staggering blow.”
Courtesy the National Museum of the US Air Force

President Roosevelt called December 7, 1941 “The Day that Will Live in Infamy.”

A Japanese leader was heard to say: “I think we have awakened the Sleeping Giant.”


Flight to Destiny — the Novel

I’ve written a novel about that attack and its aftermath. It features, briefly, a real-life woman pilot named Cornelia Fort who was flying near Pearl Harbor that day and survived the attack. She went on to fly with the WASP — the American women pilots who volunteered to fly during World War II, as civilians. My fictional protagonist, Annie Gwynn, goes on to do the same. The WASP did NOT fly combat or anywhere abroad. Rather, they ferried (flew and delivered) airplanes throughout the United States, taking them wherever they needed to go. Winning the war was the goal.

The e-book version is on special sale, December  7th and 8th — in memory of Pearl Harbor.

Here’s a Teaser from Chapter One

Early morning, December 7, 1941

Annie Gwynn nudged the control stick to the left, touched her foot to the left rudder pedal, and put the small, single-engine airplane into a shallow bank.

The early morning mist had vanished from the green valleys between the rugged mountains that overlooked Pearl Harbor. Having lost track of Cornelia’s plane, she began to search for it. Instead of her friend’s yellow trainer, in the distance Annie saw moving specks— specks that caught the rays of the rising sun.

A flock of birds? Too big. Airplanes? She squinted through the windscreen. The specks — yes, airplanes — and coming toward her, closing on her.

Now she could see dozens, maybe hundreds of planes. They resembled a swarm of angry bees. Seconds later, the lead aircraft banked right and turned south and she caught sight of a red ball on the wing. The other airplanes followed the leader. All but one. It peeled off and flew toward her.

On a Collision Course

The two planes were on a collision course with Annie’s much smaller, slower aircraft the vulnerable one. Alarm bells were going off in Annie’s brain. Red ball. The Rising Sun? Japanese? Impossible. But that sleek silver airplane closed on her fast.

Annie shoved the throttle to the firewall. Her stomach did a rollercoaster flutter as she put the airplane in a sudden dive, mindful that she didn’t have a lot of altitude to lose in these hills. But Annie knew she had to do something to evade the silver menace that came straight at her.

She heard what sounded like machine gun fire and bullets whining overhead. Keep the nose down, she thought. Annie swung first left and then right, hoping to spoil his aim. She knew any minute a burst of those bullets would rip through the fabric of the little Cub and tear her to shreds.

Annie eased back on the stick and banked right, beginning a gradual climb to regain her lost altitude, then turned in her seat to look back.

Pearl Harbor Was on Fire

Columns of smoke rose from Pearl Harbor. They fouled the bright blue morning sky with a dirty pall that threatened to obliterate the few fleecy clouds that floated high over paradise.

Annie dropped down just above the treetops as she made her way between two hills. Now she saw flames towering higher than a five-story building and leaping from listing ships in the middle of the harbor. Smoke billowed wherever she looked. Plumes of water from fire hoses shot skyward then fell as millions of droplets, only to be turned to steam when they contacted the molten metal of the burning ships that lay dying amidst what had been the United States’ Pacific fleet.

The water itself appeared to be on fire. Japanese planes zoomed back and forth, diving, climbing, turning, shooting at everything that moved — planes, boats, trucks, cars, bicycles, people.

The gravel northeast to southwest runway in her sights, she dropped even lower and swung in an arc keeping the airplane below the horizon — the rounded line drawn by the crests of the hills — hoping a Jap Zero would not see her. A bright yellow aircraft was easy to spot on a sunlit morning. Annie said a silent prayer as she throttled back and prepared to land.

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