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Hebel, Francis

On the afternoon of 7 December 1941 aircraft from the carrier Enterprise were tasked with searching for the Japanese ships in areas south and south-west of Oahu. A report came in of the sighting of a cruiser and a carrier about 50 miles south of Pearl Harbor and 30 aircraft were launched to attack the Japanese intruders. There were 18 torpedo bombers, six dive bombers and Hebel's six fighters. The report proved to be faulty and the aircraft returned to the carrier in the growing dusk. Hebel was ordered to Ford Island. They approached at about 2100 hours and mistook the burning ships and installations for cane fields being burned off on the island of Kauai, west of Oahu. They realized their error when they were east of Oahu and turned back along the island's southern coast. Hebel made contact with Commander Howard L. Young (Young, Howard L.) at the Ford Island control tower and was told to approach as normal. He led the flight in. Although it was said that the Navy Yard Defense Center had been asked to alert anti-aircraft batteries, they opened fire. Four aircraft were hit and came down nearby while Hebel, also hit, made for Wheeler Field where he crashed and was mortally hurt. Two men survived at Ford Island, one with a broken leg. Ensign James Daniels (Daniels, James) was then assisted to land by Commander Young, but a machine-gunner opened up on him on the runway. The only other unwounded survivor of the flight, Gayle Hermann, stopped that by hitting the gunner over the head.

See also: Daniels, James; Enterprise; Ford Island; Oahu; Pearl Harbor; Wheeler Field; Young, Howard L.; Vireo

You can find out more about the Enterprise in the following Osprey book:

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