Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Toshio Moritsugu Interview
Narrator: Toshio Moritsugu
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Date: March 2, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-mtoshio-01-0014

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TI: Okay, so Tosh, we're going to start this second part and the first part we talked about, you know, the prewar growing up at the camp and then where we left it was that you had just started going to school at Iolani. This next part I want to actually now go to December 7th, 1941, you know, that Sunday. Can you describe that day for me, for you?

TM: I was doing my algebra homework for the day, early in the morning, on the second floor. I could always see the entire ocean area, and the naval air station could be seen. Every Sunday, the military people did maneuver, and this particular morning I heard loud sounds and it wasn't the normal type of maneuver that they did. I thought about it and said, they must be doing something more realistic as far as that Sunday morning. And before long, I could see that the sound became louder and I could see planes flying around. I thought, "Gee, they're really doing good work, real realistic type of practice." Then black clouds started coming out. There were two hangars and then before long, the planes disappeared. And then about an hour later, the radio announcer from KGMB, which was a major station, announced, "This is the real McCoy. We are being attacked." I couldn't believe it. Then the announcer described that Japanese planes had come over and that they were bombing certain areas.

TI: And so at that point you recognized that what you had just witnessed was a attack by Japanese planes on the naval air station right there. When the attack was going on, did you notice if the naval air station was able to fire back at the planes, could you tell from that distance?

TM: Not that I know of because only what I could see were planes diving in and before long, disappeared, and none of the planes going out. Later on I found out that it was a huge attack and out of thirty-three planes, twenty-seven were completely demolished and a few planes could have been out maneuvering but never returned to retaliate. The Naval Air Station Kaneohe was the second important air station because Pearl Harbor was number one. And Kaneohe Naval Air Station was pretty important.

TI: Well, and you were pretty familiar with this air station because I think for summer jobs and things you worked there to help build some of the buildings and things like that. So can you describe the air station and how it was laid out?

TM: I got a summer job because I was sixteen, able to work, and applied for summer help, summer work at the naval air station. Fortunately, I was selected and worked as a carpenter's helper and they paid me fifty cents an hour. We worked eight hours a day, Monday through Friday. And my cousins, two cousins, fortunately, also got employed. My cousin and I were carpenter's helpers and we worked under the carpenters. And if I may go ahead, this particular foreman was Kenneth Shioi, and he didn't do any carpentry work but he was a good foreman. Apparently, he had a good group of carpenters. Besides removing nails and stacking lumbers, I was the lunch boy. In other words, I picked up the lunch from the lunch wagons for the carpenters. So I thought I was, you know, doing good work. And I noticed that there was a rush. Two huge hangars were being built, and to enter the naval air station, you had what they called a name tag. You had to show that and leaving the air station you had to do the same thing. So it was pretty well guarded. And it was only for three months but I had enough saved for advanced school.

TI: And that was the place that was attacked and probably, you know, destroyed by those planes on December 7th. That's what you saw in terms of the black smoke, it was probably those hangars that were on fire. The things that you helped build, I guess, over the summer.

TM: Yeah, it was sad to realize that here I did a little effort, helping to build the air strip and then finding it completely demolished. It just was not right and I felt sad about it.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.