Remembering Pearl Harbor-The Story of Texas’ Own Doris Miller


Seventy-seven years ago this morning at 6:00, Hawaiian time, Pearl Harbor was ready for another lazy Sunday during peacetime in America. The air over the harbor was temperate at 73 degrees, given the normal high for Oahu in December was 81 with a low of 68 degrees. The skies were clear with some cloud coverage. Visibility was good. It was another typical day in the tropic paradise that was the port of call of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
Sailors slept blissfully unaware of the approaching cataclysm that was being detected on a newly installed radar at Opana Point overlooking the Pacific. This could have been an analogy for the rest of the United States as well. No one knew what was coming. Some in Washington had an inkling but never thought Pearl, but rather, the airbase at Clark Field in Manila.
A report of a large blip on the radar 137 miles to the north was phoned in but military command waved it off as a flight B-17’s coming in from the mainland out of San Francisco. The large formation disappeared over the Oahu mountains at 7:39 a.m. The “blip” was not an anomaly or the B-17s, but an approaching attack force of 183 Japanese planes with more to come.
The planes honed in on Honolulu’s KGMB’s radio station transmission playing Hawaiian music. The Japanese used it to guide them into Oahu.
The rising sun coming up over the harbor was literally an omen of things to come, although no one at Pearl Harbor could have known this at the time.
With songs like “In the Mood” and “Chattanooga Choo-Choo” by Glenn Miller calming pre-war jitters on the radios aboard the vessels along Battleship Row, sailors and military men alike were looking forward to a quiet Sunday and the Christmas season a few weeks away.
Doris Miller, a sailor from Waco, Texas aboard the USS West Virginia was already awake.
*See more in print or online edition.