Saturday, September 24, 2016

Book review - "Trapped at Pearl Harbor" by Stephen Bower Young

During a recent trip to Hawai'i, we visited the USS Arizona and USS Oklahoma memorials on Ford Island.  Of course, I had to peruse the book section in the museum store and found Stephen Bower Young's Trapped at Pearl Harbor: Escape from Battleship Oklahoma.

Young was just 19 years old, serving on the USS Oklahoma, when the Japanese attacked December 7, 1941. He became trapped when the battleship capsized.

Young reported to his battle station in Turret No.4 when the attack came.  As the ship rolled over, he watched shipmates get crushed by 1400lb projectiles and some fall into the water and disappear.

Fortunately, most of us will never know the horror of being trapped in an upside-down ship with water rising and air getting stale.  Young describes his desperate situation with his shipmates as they waited in the darkness, wondering if anyone knew they were there, wondering if they would suffocate before drowning. He talks about the feelings of panic and despair among the trapped sailors as the hours ticked away.  After more than 24 hours, Young and his shipmates were finally rescued.

Young talks about the Oklahoma's crew, their relationships, who got along with who and who didn't.  It appears that for the most part, the comrades in arms got along well with each other, which helped when trying to keep hopes up while they were trapped.

I really enjoyed reading this book, because I had wondered what was going on in the minds of those sailors while they waited rescue.  It is always best to get information like this from someone else's first hand experience.

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