Today, we remember the attack on Pearl Harbor that took the lives of more than 2,000 Americans on Dec. 7, 1941.
The Coast Guard immediately offered helping hands and provided support as accustomed and trained to do.
Today we use those same principles during times of crisis, and we remain a steady and vigilant organization on which others can depend. Below are just a few examples of how our service reacted that fateful day. These stories remind us that our past has shaped our service.
Coast Guard Cutter Taney, Honolulu
Coast Guard Cutter Taney was tied up at Pier 6 in Honolulu Harbor, six miles away from the naval anchorage. After the first Japanese craft appeared over the island, Taney ‘s crew made preparations to get underway. Just after 9 a.m., when the second wave of planes began their attack on the naval anchorage, Taney crew fired on high altitude enemy aircraft but with the extreme range of the planes, the effect of the fire was limited and the guns were secured after 20 minutes.
Coast Guard Cutter Walnut, Midway Atoll
At the time of the attack, the Coast Guard Cutter Walnut crew was patrolling Midway Atoll to conduct aids to navigation work 1,200 miles northwest of Oahu. Upon receiving word of the attack, the Walnut crew ensured that all lights were immediately extinguished to prevent the enemy from using the aids as a navigational reference. That night, Japanese destroyers shelled Midway Island. Around 9:30 p.m., shells began landing within 100 feet of the ship, but Walnut remained anchored during the 30-minute attack. During the attack, a U.S. PBY Flying Boat crashed in Midway Lagoon within the Walnut’s vicinity. Walnut’s crewmembers recovered the injured aircrew, ultimately saving their lives. Walnut continued to complete aids to navigation work, conduct search and rescue, and run convoy missions.
Coast Guard Cutter Tiger, 14th Naval District
The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Tiger was under Navy jurisdiction and assigned to the local defense forces of the 14th Naval District. Equipped with depth charges, listening gear and firearms, Tiger was designed to interdict smugglers who attempted to unload booze during the height of Prohibition. Early on Dec. 7, 1941, they intercepted dispatch from a Navy destroyer that claimed the destruction of an enemy submarine. They continued the patrol eastward toward the Pearl Harbor entrance and around 8 a.m. started taking fire from an unknown source. They guarded the entrance all day and throughout the night, even taking what is now thought to be friendly fire in the darkness from Army units along the shore that assumed the ship was a foreign threat.
78-foot patrol boat CG-8, Honolulu
A 78-foot patrol boat designated as CG-8 lay moored to Pier 4 in Honolulu Harbor when the Japanese attacked. The crew of six moved CG-8 to Sand Island to pick up the depot keeper while bombs exploded nearby. The crew then proceeded back across the channel to Kewalo Basin and was strafed by Japanese aircraft while en route. At the basin CG-8 prohibited the small private vessels and sampans from leaving until Naval Intelligence could clear the owners. After the two waves of Japanese planes withdrew, the Coast Guard secured the port areas, blacked out all navigational aids and stationed guards along the waterfront.
Coast Guard Cutter Kukui, Honolulu
Coast Guard Cutter Kukui was positioned at Pier 4 in Honolulu on Dec. 7, 1941, when the Army requested the buoy tender transport a combat squad to Ni’ihau in response to the reports of Japanese aviators having landed there. They arrived with the squad to find the aviators deceased.
As you can see, the Coast Guard has always been and always will be Semper Paratus. Our corps values of honor, respect and devotion to duty are still displayed today as we pause to reflect on the sacrifices made on Dec. 7, 1941.
To read more about the Coast Guard in Pearl Harbor including first-hand account and narratives, click here.