Alumni Memories of Pearl Harbor Battle

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Since the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor was recently commemorated, we thought you might be interested in hearing about the experiences of a few of the Cogswellites who were present during the battle.

Reprinted from the January 16, 1942 “Cogswell Spirit Builder”

News from Pearl Harbor

The following letter, dated December 25, 1941, from Bill Kendall (class of 1941), came to the office recently. Because of its great interest, we are quoting almost all of it.

“Christmas and New Year’s greetings from the Cogswell Alumnae in Hawaii – Bill Bjorman (1941), Sam Bucchieri (1939), Hubert Cazin (left in 1939), Bill Kendall (1941), and Ed Sorensen (1940). We hope that we find you as well as we are in the holiday season and eagerly await the time we can offer our greetings in person. Wartime Hawaii finds us serving both the armed and civilian forces of our country. Bjorman, Cazin and I (Kendall), are bolstering Uncle Sam’s naval detachments as Radiomen Third Class – a petty officer rating, while Bucchieri and Sorensen carry on as draftsmen for the Army Engineers in Honolulu. Ed Sorensen is the lone Aloha Land Cogswellite to gain membership in the ranks of the married, although Sam Bucchieri had a close escape before he left the mainland. Speaking of escapes, few will rival the scrape with the grim reaper that Bill Bjorman had at Pearl Harbor on that horrible Sunday morning of December 7, 1941. Aboard a strange ship sinking with torpedo hits fore and aft, and through a hail of machine gun fire he, with many members of the ship’s company made their way to safety ashore only to have to battle fires for 30 hours without a let-up.
I have not seen Cazin, who was aboard a seagoing tug, but Bjorman tells me that he is safe. Hubert recently returned from Midway Island where he was engaged in secret radio work. Bjorman and I were scheduled to accompany him on that trip, but were transferred from that duty on the eve of the departure of the ship. Standing a watch on one of the Navy Circuits where the holocaust at Pearl Harbor was going on, I saw little of the fierce action of the Navy Yard since my duty was at the Naval Radio Station a few miles from the Harbor. I had a good idea of what was going on, however; for we handled the communications end of the battle and those messages were hot. I cannot say much of the attack for obvious reasons, but Bjorman’s story was more vivid than any I have seen in the newspapers. We lost many fine shipmates that never can be replaced – I would rather not dwell any longer on that subject.
Bjorman, Cazin and I went to Radio School when we arrived from the States, and completed the four months’ course in two months. Bill and Hubert were transferred to the 14th Naval District Communications Office upon graduation, and I was retained at the school to work in the capacity of assistant instructor. Our Cogswell training put us well ahead of the other students at the school, and when the four-months’ term ended at the Radio School, Cazin was sent to Midway – Bjorman and I missing that duty for which we were slated by last minute transfers to duty in the 14th Naval District Communications activities. I was sent to the Naval Radio Station at Wailupe, on the Island of Oahu, and Bill was held at the 14th Naval District Communications Office. Returning from Midway, Cazin was greeted with a further transfer to duty aboard a seagoing tug – his present duty. The radio station at Wailupe was been moved to new quarters a few miles more from Pearl Harbor than Wailupe.
We seldom see Sam or Ed since our liberties are so uncertain, although Bill and I did spend a weekend at Sam’s apartment on a rare two-day liberty. They are working on engineering drafting for army ordnance, and claim that Cogswell training makes their work easy and therefore pleasant. Our increased wartime duties make it almost impossible to see these fellows, but if we get a break we may get in touch with them again somehow.
My wish is that this letter finds the entire Cogswell faculty in fine spirits and good health.

Aloha Nui Oe,”
(Signed) Bill Kendall
Reprinted from the June 15, 1942 “Cogswell Spirit Builder”

Visitors to Campus

“John Danaher (class of 1940), a 1st Class Yeoman, has been on leave the last two weeks and found time to visit Cogswell. He has been in the Navy two and a half years, most of the time being stationed at Pearl Harbor.
At the time of the Japanese attack, his ship was in the harbor alongside the Arizona, which was sunk when a bomb burst in the ammunition room after falling down the smoke stack. John’s ship was the only one which managed to get out of the harbor during the attack. It was forced to beach on the point at the mouth of the harbor. This spot has been named after the ship because of the event.
John reported that even though the attack was a great surprise the men were calm and none went to pieces under the sudden nervous strain. However, they all hope they will never see such action again. The lights on the Pacific coast, fresh bread and vegetables, milk, and other foods we take for granted seemed very good to him.”

-Bonnie Phelps, Dean of Institutional Advancement

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