Child survivor remembers attack on Pearl Harbor — 80 years ago

Dec 7, 2021, 4:51 PM
Pearl Harbor...
(The USS Arizona after it was bombed in Pearl Harbor in Hawaii by Japanese pilots on December 7, 1941. Associated Press)
(The USS Arizona after it was bombed in Pearl Harbor in Hawaii by Japanese pilots on December 7, 1941. Associated Press)

SALT LAKE CITY — Three-year-old Mike Rose was playing in his front yard early in the morning 80 years ago on Dec. 7, 1941, near Pearl Harbor when a fleet of aircraft flew over his house.

Scared by the noise, he scrambled and hid under the front porch stairs.

Rose joined Inside Sources guest host Ethan Millard to talk about that pivotal day and what followed.

Bombers overhead

Rose said he has been a research historian for a long time and found that what he was seeing, and hearing were 27 bombers flying overhead after taking off from Japanese aircraft carriers sitting 230 miles offshore of the island of Oahu. The second wave of the Pearl Harbor attack had begun.

Young Mike lived right on the beach looking out on a calm bay on the backside of Diamond Head. The day after the attack, two soldiers came to his house and told his dad:

“You’ve got to get your family and get out of here.”

They US military feared the Japanese would invade the island because the bay was an ideal spot for a landing zone.

The ships that delivered food and other items — like Christmas trees — to the island had fled because the Japanese submarines were “picking them off,” Rose told Millard.

After about a week in self-imposed exile, the family were told it was safe to return home.

Life after Pearl Harbor attack 

Rose said the Japanese people on the island ran most of the service operations like markets and gas stations. A teenage Japanese girl, whose American name was Violet, helped out his around the house. Violet would take young Mike to the beach to play.

“Tragically, on the mainland, so many of them were put away in camps after the war started, which is one of the greatest embarrassments this country ever experienced,” Rose said. “That didn’t happen on the island of Oahu or in the islands at all because they were so important to the commerce.”

He said the Japanese on the island receded back into their culture once the war began.

Ten weeks after the attack, the Roses were told to be prepared to evacuate the island. They boarded a ship bound for the mainland. The family were permitted to take all they could carry.

The next day, the family boarded an Atlantic Ocean liner — the RMS Aquitania. The British ship was enlisted in both World Wars as a troop transport and hospital ship. It was painted gray, outfitted with depth charges and guns.

“So technically, we were a target. But fortunately, we were put in a convoy with seven other ships, military and civilian. And we sailed out of Honolulu harbor, headed for San Francisco,” Rose said.

Artifacts from that historic day

As for artifacts from that historic day 80 years ago, Rose has a piece from the burned parachute of a Japanese pilot who perished in the attack.

Also, “I have a piece off of one of the midget submarines — the one that washed up on a beach not far from my house,” he said.

Inside Sources with Boyd Matheson can be heard weekdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app. 

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Child survivor remembers attack on Pearl Harbor — 80 years ago