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Daniels, James

The American aircraft carrier Enterprise had been sent as part of Task Force Eight on 28 November to take reinforcing aircraft to Wake Island and was on the way back to Pearl Harbor. The commanding officer, Vice Admiral William F. Halsey (Halsey, William F.), was appraised of the attack on the base and flew missions to try to find the Japanese fleet. A report came in of a sighting 50 miles to the south of Pearl Harbor and the carried launched a force of six fighters, six dive bombers and 18 torpedo bombers under the command of Lieutenant Eugene Lindsey at 1642 hours. They found nothing except gunfire from nervous US vessels. The fighters, under the command of Lieutenant Francis Hebel returned to the carrier but were unable to land in the dusk and were ordered to Ford Island. The Douglas SBD2 Dauntless aircraft closed with Oahu at about 2100 hours but found it hard to recognize, taking the fires for cane burning on the island west of their destination, Kauai. They continued east but, realizing their error, turned back along the southern shore of Oahu and made radio contact with Commander Howard L. Young (Young, Howard L.), now at the Ford Island control tower. He ordered a standard approach. Hebel led the first four aircraft in to land. In spite of warnings of their approach the sky was riven with gunfire. Of the three men following Hebel only one survived. Hebel himself made for Wheeler Field where he was shot down and died of his injuries. Of the two remaining aircraft one was shot down over Pearl Harbor and the pilot killed as he parachuted to earth. Ensign James Daniels escaped to the west.

Daniels managed to contact Young and ask for instructions, but each was, by now, uncertain of the identity of the other. Young told Daniels that he was Enterprise air group commander. Daniels told Young that he was speaking to the father of his goddaughter. Middle and nicknames clinched the ID. Young told Daniels to come in to Ford low and fast. He landed on his second attempt, only to be opened up on by a jumpy Marine. The only other survivor of this flight, Gayle Hermann who had made it out of the first four, intervened by hitting the machine gunner over the head and Daniels, too, was safe.

See also: Enterprise; Ford Island; Halsey, William F.; Oahu; SBD2; Wheeler Field; Young, Howard L.