Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp provided keynote remarks at a Pearl Harbor remembrance aboard the decommissioned Coast Guard Cutter Taney in Baltimore today. This year is both the 70th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack and 25th anniversary of Taney’s decommissioning. Taney is the last surviving vessel afloat to have been present during the attack and serves as a museum ship in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.
During the event, Papp reflected on the surprise for Taney’s crew when the attack began:
“Seventy years ago today, at 0755, on Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941, members of Taney’s crew were resting in their racks right below the very deck we are assembled on, when they were blasted out of their holiday routine by an attack force of over 180 Japanese aircraft.”
He then read from an after action report written by Taney’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Louis Olson:
“When the anti-aircraft fire was first observed…general quarters [was] sounded and all officers not on board ordered to return. The anti-aircraft battery as well as all other guns were ready to fire with their full crew and three officers at their stations in four minutes.”
Papp also relayed a story from Coast Guard Lt. Frank Erickson, a pioneer of helicopter search and rescue, who had the duty on Ford Island – located in the middle of Pearl Harbor – that morning:
“As the explosions continued, the phone rang – on the other end of the line was the Air Station commanding officer U.S. Navy Capt. James Shoemaker, demanding to know ‘What the hell kind of drills [his Coast Guard duty officer] was pulling down there?!’
With shrapnel raining down, a message was soon dispatched from the Air Station Duty Officer – ‘AIR RAID PEARL HARBOR – THIS IS NOT A DRILL.’”