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Colonel Ford Island

In the middle of Pearl Harbor lies Ford Island, about 1,000 yards wide and 2,000 yards long (914 by 1,828 metres) on a north-east to south-west axis. The middle of the island was occupied by Pearl Harbor Naval Air Station and there were facilities for seaplanes at the western and southern corners. The north, north-eastern and south-eastern shores overlooked naval moorings, the latter being Battleship Row. The station commander was Captain James M. Shoemaker (Shoemaker, James M.). On Saturday 6 December he had organized a surprise sabotage alert; an exercise that went very well and reassured him that, against a threat from ethnic Japanese in Hawaii, they were secure.

The First Attack Wave approached at about 0750 and the Ford Island assailants consisted of nine Aichi D3A1 Vals of 15th Attack unit, 1st Division, commanded by Lieutenant Commander Kakuichi Takahashi. They were heard by Lieutenant Commander Logan Ramsey (Ramsey, Logan), Operations Officer of Patrol Wing Two, who had been in the Command Center, Administration Building, for over half an hour having been alerted by the reports from Ward of submarine sightings. At 0758 Ramsey had the signal ""Air raid, Pearl Harbor - This is not a drill"" broadcast in plain language. Wives and children of personnel took shelter with the family of Rear Admiral Patrick N. L. Bellinger, commander of Patrol Wing Two, in an underground installation created in an old fort. Many of the 35 PBY5 Catalinas and other, non-combatant aircraft at Ford Island were damaged or destroyed. The hangars caught fire and the efforts of Captain Shoemaker to fight the fires were frustrated by the sinking of Arizona on the water main, cutting off the supply. In the middle of this turmoil, at about 0830, two aircraft from Enterprise managed to land. They were the SBD2 Dauntlesses of Commander Howard L. Young (Young, Howard L.) and Lieutenant Commander Halsted Hopping (Hopping, Halsted).

The Second Attack Wave caused considerably less damage. One bomb that fell outside the Administration building, where wounded were overflowing from the medical facility, passed through the concrete without exploding. At about 2045 that evening, in the dark, more aircraft from Enterprise under the command of Lieutenant Francis Hebel (Hebel, Francis) attempted to land. In spite of orders from Admiral Bellinger guns of Pennsylvania opened fire and many others joined in. Of the six aircraft coming in, only two made it.

See also: Arizona; Battleship Row; Enterprise; First Attack Wave; Hopping, Halsted; PBY; Pennsylvania; Ramsey, Logan; SBD2; Second Attack Wave; Val; Ward; Young, Howard L.

You can learn more about Ford Island in the following Osprey book:

CAMPAIGN 62, Pearl Harbor 1941