Monday, November 11th, 2019, means more than a three day weekend. When we wake up on Monday, we’ll go about our days. Eat breakfast, take out the dog, maybe even have the day off. For this, we have veterans like Paul Kennedy to thank. On December 7, 1941, Paul experienced a very different morning.
Paul was startled awake by his friend and fellow soldier. Paul gathered his gas mask and helmet in a hurry. There wasn’t even time to put on pants, so Paul stood on the deck of the U.S.S. Sacramento in his underwear.
Directly above the then 21-year-old’s head flew a Japanese fighter plane carrying a torpedo that would soon be dropped on Pearl Harbor. In an interview with HISTORY, Paul said “He was going low and slow, because he was getting ready to drop that torpedo as soon as he cleared our ship, and he had his canopy back and was looking down at me—and I was looking up at him. I guess I looked pretty funny in my shorts and my skivvies.”
Once dropped, the torpedo destroyed the U.S.S. Oklahoma. Within twenty minutes, the ship was overturned and 429 lives were lost on the U.S.S. Oklahoma. Though young and afraid, Paul could not act as such. He fought on, carrying out his duties as a flag signalman while bombs and bullets rained down on neighboring ships.
Paul Kennedy survived that day. Unfortunately, 2,400 other American lives were lost in what would be the final straw in US’s decision to declare war on Japan.
In the words of Paul Kennedy, “There was nobody on the Sacramento who was out of control, crying for their mother, or crying at all,” Kennedy said, adding that everyone did “what they were trained to do. I was real proud of my ship.”
On Veterans Day, we remember those who bravely fought for our country. We are real proud of them, too.