tv Open Phones with Paul Travers CSPAN December 10, 2016 12:00pm-1:01pm EST
results from an event like that. to try to get in touch, again, with the way it felt to those who were on the receiving end is important because that shock, the intensity of that shock, before, the anger that results from it, partly that partly explains our history. , the hour has gone by too fast. the book is "pacific crucible -- war at sea in the pacific, "941-1942. ian tollian toll, once again, thank you. ian: thanks for having me on the program. host: we will be back. we will hear from paul travers, who has written a book of oral histories from pearl harbor veterans. on thell and comments
75th -- here on our 75th anniversary of the attack on pearl harbor. next, we look at one of the oral histories produced by the national park service. >> as we prepared to get the church,ready to go to we looked up over the sky. there were planes flying around. i did not know what the devil a on the ship, i thought it was just a stunt, and somebody said the japanese are coming. it was bouncing off the still work, and the next thing we know we hear the words "all hands, manual battle stations. boat crew, report to the duty officer." they told us your heavy ammunition would endanger the people of while or the islands
around there. so, we were restricted. your thing could fire is a 20 millimeter and machine guns. told me that this kid davis, who i had spent all of these schooldays worth was in the navy and was on the arizona. we were parked on the arizona. i went over to the arizona. there was what we call a gang plank. it went down so you could go a short. there, at the deck, and this tradition in the navy -- you have to salute the flag, salute the officer, state your business, and he would let you aboard or want, and i told him i
wanted to see this kid davis from colorado. him bigger, colorado, and he says ok. he is the only one that could be from there. at that time, i turned around, looked down, and about that time is when i seen there were four planes coming direct, straight at us. and we did not think much of to, kinduse they used practice, for target dropping balloons, balloons full of water on us on a sunday, but this was not that. it was a real fact because as soon as the ship dropped -- you could not see the torpedoes drop, but when he turned up and went away, like this, you could see him, and you can see torpedoes coming straight at us.
i would say it was less than 300 feet from us when you first spotted him. within less than two minutes, it was all hell that had torn loose. >> did you ever find out what happened to your school friend that you are going to meet on the arizona? >> never did find out. he might not have even been there. usually, they were shipped in one day, and out the next. now, i never heard from him. -- you know, aunt it is a small town, a very small town, and she was in her 80's at the time, and i had called her, and contacted to her, and she said she never heard from him, so i guess, maybe, he didn't make it. that is the best thing i can
tell you there. story about the utah -- that there are 40 old --ls into with an infant entombed with an infant child ashes. this navy chief, they had come from the states, and his daughter died. they were going to bury her at comes, andarl harbor a bomb to her because they thought she was a carrier. she sucks,her, and but she is still there. -- sunk, but she is still there. so, they hunted, but they could never find her. 40 fellows went down with the ship, so they say there were 40 girls guarding that infant girl.
she was only, i think, a month old. explosions, and decided it had to have been something drastic, and when she found shrapnel -- that had gone through our refrigerator, then it was really, really frightening, so we just huddled under an overturned city for about three hours, and waited until my father came home, or my sister, who worked at the police station. >> there was fire all over the water. the whole place was on fire, about 10 feet high. that was the oil from the ship that got damaged. the oil went out, and it caught on fire. it was burning about 10 feet
high. then there were bodies all over the place, smoking. my ship -- the first thing they did with my ship, they were our planes, looking for a place to land. that the ship had rifleman all around the and theirof the ship, orders were to shoot anything that moves. dark about getting that time. they fired at all the votes our ship.come to knew theyr, and they were americans. they fired -- shot everything, like you said, anything that
moved. topside, and the ships had been firing through the first phase. thousands of round of ammunition created a lot of smoke, a lot of water vapor. giant rain. -- giant rainbow. a perfect rainbow appeared in the sky right over the harbor. i will always remember that. very inspiring. you are looking at pictures of survivors of the pearl harbor attack from the 75th anniversary memorial in hawaii. there were about 100 survivors on hand for wednesday's event. by the way, you can watch the. one in its entirety at 6:00 p.m.
and 11:00 p.m. eastern here on american history tv on c-spanthree. we continue to take your calls for about another 50 minutes or so. we have three ways to join the conversation. the phone lines this morning we also welcome your comments on twitter. send us a tweet is paulthis morning travers, the author of "eyewitness to infamy -- an oral history of pearl harbor, ," which 7, 1941 includes many accounts for more than 200 interviews with pearl harbor veterans. paul travers, welcome. thanks for being here. mr. travers: it is my pleasure
to be here today, though, but more important, it is an honor to be here to pay tribute to the men and women of pearl harbor. that is what i did in the book. host: your book -- it starts with stories you're dead told you when you were growing up -- your dad told you when you were growing up, but take us back to 1979. you start to broaden that up here you put ads in the newspaper looking for pearl harbor veterans. what prompted that? here i am in 1979, approaching 30 years old, a college graduate with an english degree, a minor in history. the dream of every english major is to write a book. i thought you write what you know about. -- he neverstories referred to himself as an eyewitness, he never went into detail. i thought let me try to expand
on it. i took out a small classified ad in the philadelphia inquirer, the new york times, "the washington post," and of course, "the baltimore sun." it was one of those little typo classifieds buried deep inside the classified ads, and to my response, i got a pretty good response. inple that were interested being interviewed and documenting the oral history of pearl harbor. father, who ismy with the 27th entry regiment, he comes home and tells me he met murdo rossen -- murdo watson is my unsung hero of pearl harbor. she was an army nurse at schofield station hospital. murdo is willing to tell you her story, and what a compelling story she had. 1979, oralin
histories were not that common. what did you do -- write things down -- record people? mr. travers: health. what you just said -- -- both. what you just said, i am not the pioneer of oral histories for pearl harbor. i did some research. there were not a lot of books on oral histories. i thought maybe i have a good topic. i was the first one to see it through through the end, and compile a book -- an oral history book with narratives from pearl harbor survivors, and watson contact, myrtle -- she was actively involved, and she opened the door for me through the chapter. they botched for me with the national association, and that opened the floodgates, allowing me to collect a mountain of oral histories. host: you write in the book you are fascinated as a child by
your dad's pearl harbor stories. why do you think that one battle has stayed so important in the minds of the veterans you interviewed? clearly, many of them went on to other battles and other things during the war. mr. travers: yes, they did, and in speaking with all the pearl harbor veterans and survivors, their main thing is to remember pearl harbor to keep america other. that is probably the amount you will hear -- the mantra you will hear. it was a surprise attack. americaeme is keep vigilant. that is what it is all about to the pearl harbor survivors. let's not let this happen again, and it did happen again at 911. it is not the same situation, but we also have to keep vigilance to defend our freedoms here. host: and you come to this with some military strength herself, correct? mr. travers: yes, i do.
i was in the marine corps in the mid-1970's. i attribute some of my father's legacy as the son of a pearl harbor survivor. he was a role model. my brother was in the army. i wasn't in the -- i was in the marine corps. to getere you were, able people to open up to you. why do you think that was? mr. travers: i think the main reason why is i told him i wanted to tell a human interest story. i am not specifically looking into the relics in the battle. i want to show the human side of the pearl harbor experience -- her in the battle. ocis in the battle. i want to show the pearl harbor expense. why did you make that first one that particular
individual? mr. travers: it set the scene for a while as a tropical paradise -- a vacationland. when my dad finally enlisted, to him, it was an all expense paid vacation to hawaii. of course, a year later, it turned into a nightmare for him and the other pearl harbor veterans. travers, guest is paul author of "eyewitness to infamy -- an oral history of pearl harbor, december 7, 1941." this was originally published in 1991, on the 50th anniversary. after that, did more veterans contact you? mr. travers: yes, after the book was first for bush in 1991, i had a number of veterans contact me, and i went out and got there narrative. -- got their narrative. i said there were no guarantees there would be an update to the book.
but good, chlamydia the angels of pearl harbor were looking out for me, but a few years ago -- but good karma -- the angels of pearl harbor were looking out ago, the few years book and been out of print, but they said are you interested in an update. host: how main new updates have you added? is travers: i believe there four. there are other people that have been on the national news lately like lauren gruner and don stretton. they get bylines in the book for their heroic escapes. host: andrew is in college park, maryland. paul travers. go ahead. caller: i saw this documentary -- other people must have seen it -- it was evidently a documentary about when they were just inventing radar, and they pointed out -- they had just
created radar and it worked. ok? they had all the stations of radar out in the pacific, they were watching this, and they saw all these planes coming toward pearl harbor from japan. the people that ran the radar station new exactly what they saw. all the bosses told them to stand down, we're not paying attention to this, it is a new technology. it just seems so funny, you know. they say the same things, often times, with these other attacks. people try to let law enforcement know they had information. i guess it is a miracle when they foil these attacks because they claim to have foiled many, many attacks, and i'm sure they have, but it is just so funny how human intelligence, or whatever it is, does not catch up with technology. host: did we miss things on radar that morning? mr. travers: no -- joe lockhart and george elliott were manning the radar station.
they saw the points coming in, relayed the message back to headquarters, and it was dismissed as the b-17's flying in from california. historiansome of the made reference to earlier in the week, on various shows, we knew the japanese fleet was on the move, but we did not know where. it took everybody by surprise they were sailing across the northern pacific, and launched the attack, probably about 250 miles north of oahu. the caller mentioned human intelligence -- technology does not fail in these events. it is human intelligence that fails. the same thing with the condo response -- condor response. the word goes up and sinks the submarine. it is related back, and of course, it is lost in the paperwork. host: and they just recently
discovered some of that some burning -- submarine. mr. travers: yes, they did. they actually believe a couple of the submarines got inside the at pearl harbor and inflicted damage on the battleship oklahoma. host: let's hear from bill next in muskegon, michigan, on the line for paul travers. go ahead. caller: yes, the question i have is i was in the navy, and i am retired. i have been to the arizona monument to times, and what surprised me was the number of -- thewho had last names -- [indiscernible] the sullivan brothers disaster. particular, bill, what is your question about that? my question is how did
many -- theth so arizona ended up with so many people with the same last name? was it the sullivan brother incident that change that? mr. travers: yes, i believe it was the sullivan brother incident. before that, you had a large contingency of men, 1300, 1500 men aboard these ships, and a lot of times you have brothers and cousins who served aboard the same ship together. to answer your question, there were a lot of relatives aboard the ships, the battleships. that is why you see a lot of the same names on the monuments -- whether it be the arizona or the oklahoma. host: another question about the utah. if you want to send us a question, posted at facebook.com/c-spanhistory. this is a comment about the utah from david. he says i recently found
something about december 7, 1941, that kind of disturbs me. -- er: >> but it is being allowed to rest and deteriorate, unrecognizable as any ship of any kind, let alone a battleship. to me -- this is david writing -- to me this is a travesty. those men need to be brought to the surface and honored for the burial site. mr. travers: to a certain extent, i agree with him. to a certain extent, not. with the utah, you have a similar situation with the arizona. so many men were trapped inside. there was no chance of getting men out of the arizona or utah
without, you know, casualties, and the jarred workers or the navy rescue personnel. virginia, the west which lost a large number of men, and had men trapped inside -- they could raise that ship, but the value of the utah was basically nil because it was an outdated battleship, mainly used as a target ship. all the guns were covered over on deck. it was probably best to leave it as is as a memorial to those men. the situation with the oklahoma, when they raised the ship a year later, they could not identify the things. it is a different situation. with the technology and forensics, they are, through dna, started to identify the sailors that were aboard the oklahoma, bringing them back
home for proper burials and closure for the family. host: you started the project in 1979. your first edition is published in 1991. when did you first get to pearl harbor -- when did you first see it coming what was your reaction when you saw for the first time? mr. travers: i was in pearl harbor back in 1974-1975. that visit that probably, because i went back and did all the historic sites because i have a connection with my father -- that was probably a catalyst that said look into this a little further and see what you can do. that is probably, you know, where the seed for the book was germinated, back on that trip to hawaii in 1974. host: what year did your dad passed away? mr. travers: my dad passed away in 2009. i, kind of, refer to him as the poster boy of the pearl harbor survivors and the greatest generation. if you read his narrative, it
doesn't tell the whole story because that is one of the part of the deals i had to do with some of these pearl harbor survivors to it could not tell -- the whole story to them was what they did after pearl harbor. host: sure. mr. travers: they deferred recognition to other people -- bunk mates, shipmates, soldiers, sailors, especially those that paid a higher price than they did, whether they made the supreme sacrifice, or actually wounded. my father was actually wounded. that ended his military career. he spent a couple of years in veterans hospitals, finally discharged from valley for hospital in 1947. married a girl of his dreams that he met when he was on leave during nonwork, and turned -- the war, and turn this into an economic engine. host: we want to show you next
some of the oral histories that have been gathered by the national park service. >> we saw the arizona when it hit in, and it lifted the ship clear out of the water. then it took about seven minutes 42 sink, completely sink -- for it to sink, completely sink, but the worst part of it was all the crewmen on the ship were trying to get off because they were all burning, but they were hesitant about jumping in the burning sea also. everything was a fire in the sea, to. the poor fellas that jumped off in that burning water -- most of them never did make it to shore. the ones that did make it to shore, we personally witnessed it. they were burnt so bad that the
skin was falling off their face, and their botox, -- buttocks, falling off their whole body, like you had dipped them in a vat of greece, or something. you never heard such screening in all your life. it was just like hell on earth, i guess. during the second wave, the fellows -- they did a marvelous job. actually, it was a miracle the way they got everything together, because we had no guns. they were locked up in the cellar over there. but those fellows on those ships -- god bless them -- they stood them until they all got killed. >> on the port side, out by the
half deck -- as i got out there, i looked. the smoke,believe the rumbling, the machine guns going, the explosions, and here comes the fire in the water in the oil coming from the west virginia and the arizona, which was right behind us. cow, you are a kid, 17 years old -- i was scared to death. standing there, watching that oklahoma rollover -- a battleship rolling over, and all the guys that are on their, you know, scared to death. oil, theseeing all the water and the fire, and now and then we could see the west
at thea, down looking california. she was sitting at the bottom. i don't know. worst day of my life. >> -- came and dropped a torpedo. pearl harbor is not some great, big harbor, so i can see the torpedo land, and the airplane, instead of going up and getting aircraft, turned around and hold the surface of the water, and it came straight for me. i looked, and looked, and i said wow -- that must be a japanese airplane. it has round circles on the wings. . was very angry after i realized that was a
japanese airplane, i said what are my ancestors doing here -- they are killing our american soldiers. i am an american, too. they are killing my fellow citizens. seeingill recall torpedoes hitting the geysers --, and every time a torpedo would hit, a geyser, 300 or 400 feet high would spring up. i still cannot put it out of my mind. what i had seen happened that day. description in many respects. plain playing -- hell. host: paul travers, it is difficult to listen to some of those men -- hard to watch them. how hard for -- was it for you
to sit there and interview some of them? mr. travers: some of it was very, very difficult. i have goosebumps on my arm listening to some of the stories. the real impact was when i got home, started transcribing the stories, and put them down on paper. then you have an opportunity to not only read the lines, read between the lines, and then you realize what an emotional roller coaster these men and women were on. once the book is published, you get your book, you sit down and read it again, these are some amazing stories -- ordinary people you and are times that did extraordinary things. host: our guest, paul travers -- "is book "eyewitness to infamy -- we welcome your calls. host: and send us a tweet.
it's good to joe in north carolina. caller: yes, my question is when they first come in, they hit will or feel -- airfield. i wonder how many planes were destroyed and how many lives were lost? host: question on wheeler field. mr. travers: heart of the battle plan was to take out the best part of a battle plan was to take out the airfield. what i do know is the number of planes we lost was almost equal to the number of japanese planes that launched their attack. we lost -- approximately 190 planes were destroyed, and there were another 160 planes that were damaged. there were about 360 planes in those two waves launched from japanese carriers. battleshiption at row -- that was a big blow.
also, the japanese had a sound battle plan. they took out the airfields, and basically eliminated the air force we had their. wherenext, russell, in --river falls, wisconsin. caller: hello, paul. mr. travers: hello. caller: lieutenant russell nelson, retired. mr. travers: i know lieutenant kurt -- colonel russell nelson. glad to hear your voice again. theer: congratulations on reissue. i read it several years ago. it should become a standard work on pole harbor and with the reissue, it will. i do not recall reading any of the py boat survivors. the pt squadron was there. did you interview any of those fellows? did not.rs: no, i
that was one aspect where i did not get any narrative, and like i said, i tried to present the whole spectrum of events at pearl harbor, and i was beating the bushes for people that were on the pt boats, but i had no luck with that. host: yeah, -- caller: you, i remember my dad er, so othert commercial there. my last question -- do you have a comment on it? mr. travers: which deals with? caller: all the leading up -- all the classified material they never got to -- mr. travers: time of the same opinion of many historians -- i am of the same opinion of many historians. we knew there was going to be an attack. we had broken the japanese military and the medic codes. -- diplomatic codes. the war warning was sent on
november 27, so they knew. there was a state of readiness, if not a state of war was coming. i find it ironic the word warning was sent november 27, and the japanese fleet had sailed for hawaii on november 26. so, i believe until you know, some hard evidence comes first -- first person accounts of seeing classified information mislead -- ir would say once the wheels of faith get put into motion -- there are things that happened. andlook back in hindsight say yeah, we could've done better with human intelligence. host: since your first publication in 1991, the advent, growth of the internet, facebook, research through google, wikipedia -- have you found there is more information that has come to light, particularly on the japanese
side of things, that has caused you to go back and revisit some of the stories that you have published previously? on thevers: no -- american side, i would say no. like you just said, on the japanese side, over the years, probably since the 50th, there has been more information about the japanese tactics, but from the american side, i do not think there has been that much new information revealed, other than, say, for instance, the oklahoma. they re-examine the damage done, and they decided that could not have been done by the dive bombers. that has to be done by a bigger weapon. the japanese submarines entered pearl harbor. and: former marine graduate, you are a master of science at pepperdine. you spent part of your career as -- as an historian for the
parks service. mr. travers: i find an historical seat that generates my interest. there has been two books there. host: martin, boerne, texas. welcome. caller: yes, paul. i would like to share -- first, i had a question earlier, if you ever had interviewed anybody -- and a gentleman, i got a book signed with my wife when i played golf with him in the 1980's -- he built the tanks in the mountains above pearl harbor. his name was jim, and he was actually on the hawaii highway department when i met him in 1980. as he pointed out, the japanese --ian toll was on earlier. the japanese, if they were really wise, they would have bought our fuel facilities. i had the pleasure -- i am a
retired navy captain, civil engineer corps, served on one in the 1950's, but i actually had a reserve trip in the late-19 70's, went through those tanks when they were being repaired, sandblasted it, and restored. they were top-secret, as far as i was concerned, back in the 1950's. anyway, ironically, when i got off active duty, going back to chicago, i worked for two gentlemen can one was at school field barracks. a second lieutenant, gordon ray, and another one that ended up his career in the air force as a civil engineer, and he is written up -- roy gillett. he died may 12, 2006, a year to the day i moved to texas. i have lived here 12 years now. what is the chances of a young guy getting off active duty and working from two -- four two guys from pearl harbor, one of
them a hero that was written up? anyway, did you talk to anyone that had the experience this gym would have had regarding building though secret fuel facilities? mr. travers: no, i am not familiar with -- i wish i had been familiar with him, at least 25 years ago, right? that is an interesting part of the pearl harbor story. if there was a flaw in the japanese tactical battle plan, it was they did not attack feel tanks --take farms. host: you think they had an idea they were there? mr. travers: yes, and also the dry docks. flawwas a major tactical in that they left them basically intact. the navy and the civilian yard workers, they could resurrect fleet. host: how quickly did the fleet begin to repair and restore
usable secrest? mr. travers: ships themselves? host: yeah. mr. travers: the work -- yardwork began almost immediately, but the battleships committed anywhere from a year to two years before they were refitted, outfitted, and return to combat. it was a long time without the battleships. of course, there were new battleships, you know, being built during that time. i guess those battleships may have actually been obsolete by the time they were rendered back into action, but they served well in the pacific. and you had new battleships coming up that were bigger -- more firepower, to take their place. of course, that god, really, the economic -- that got, really, the economic engine. host: in the u.s.. mr. travers: right. what the yard workers did -- the rosie the riveters for the
ladies. host: did you talk to some of the civilian workers? mr. travers: yeah, and they have the same attitude military people had -- we are in this together, here to do a job. we are part of your team. there is no me, only we. host: let's go to bernie and howard beach, new york. my question basically was answered a little while ago, but i want to be clear. alert --ere was a war at least i thought there was a war alert that went out -- we did not know where they were going to attack. was kimmel -- did he have an alert in hand -- did he sign off on it -- did he receive that alert, and if he did, and he did nothing about it, as in warning radarople who manned the that anything coming and had to
be reported --was he court-martialed for this? ok, we talked a little bit about admiral kimmel, but in response to this question. mr. travers: yes, they received the war warning. they were -- you have the roberts commission, the attack investigated it. the many historians -- many pro-or survivors, they were the scapegoats. they were reduced in rank. and forced to resign shortly after in disgrace, basically. then, the camel family had worked to clear the name of their father, but unfortunately, the general passed away shortly after that. some people say he died of a broken heart. there was no -- the court-martial findings were negligent for misconduct in the line of duty, but basically that
is what they were saying. somebody had to be blamed for the attack. host: efforts had been made in congress to clear his name posthumously, even as i recall, in the last 10 years or so. mr. travers: this, and those resolutions have fallen short -- they did not get enough past to restore kimmel to original ranks. host: our guest is paul travers. the book is "eyewitness to infamy." you republish in this "you will ,"nd no mock heroics here people displaying, at her ship us about who he is and how
you find him? mr. travers: i had the book finished, i needed a introduction for him someone, and of course, the admirals and generals that were high rank at that time, they are gone. i am done at the naval academy library doing some research. i mentioned to the library and at the front desk -- the you know anybody, and he starts laughing. mischievous grin on his face, and he said i have a name for you, but i do not think it will work. i said who is it, and he said kemp, and he lives near you, down the road in northern baltimore county in maryland. i said it is worth a shot. the old admiral -- he is very inclusive, secretive -- he has a small inner circle, and he does not suffer fools likely come -- lightly, like myself. anyway, i wrote a letter to the admiral. a week later, i get a phone call from the admiral.
he says i would like to talk to. i went down there, we spoke, and the admiral, you have to read his story. he wrote a book. he was aboard the uss -- he believes he was big for the japanese -- bait for the japanese to get us into the war. i call them the old swashbuckler because he reminded me of earl for an -- flynn with a pencil-thin mustache that he was doing reconnaissance in the south china sea right before pearl harbor. host: dangerous waters back then. mr. travers: yes. once wore rakes out, he helps to -- war broke out, he helps evacuate. him, three officers, and a filipino crew are being chased by the japanese throughout the western pacific. miles, three months later, they show up in australia, and it was his escape from the japanese -- it is probably one
of the greatest escape stories in maple -- naval history. you have to look at the arrow. quite an individual, a gallant, courageous individual. host: paul travers gathered oral histories in his book "eyewitness to infamy," and the national park service over the years has done very much the same thing -- collecting video eyewitness stories to pearl harbor. more of your calls coming up, but first, a look at some of those stories from december 7, 1941. >> the birds were very difficult to take care of because the soldiers were short sleeves and shorts a lot of times. a lot of them were badly burned. those in the oily waters -- they had to push the oil away. they would come up, take a breath. sometimes they would take a breath of flames. >> a lot of times we did not have a bed for them. we put them on the floor in the
hallway until we had places to put the. there were hammocks all over the place. we tried to put seats down and what now -- what not to make them comfortable. >> you could not get the stench off your body or your clothing. it worked into. >> our first day, we would try to treat them, determine if we were going to put them in surgery, the burn ward, and if it was serious pain, you would give them a shot of morphine, and then you put an m on their forehead so they would not get it twice or too quick. if they had a turn icad, you're supposed to put a t on their forehead, some people would not bandage over it. if they were really bad, and we knew they were bad, and we knew they were not going to make it, we did not put the m therefore had. we move them to where they would be -- therefore had.
we would move them to where they would be comfortable. movement.as this it was really terrible. we had a lot of our boats on the boats that belonged to the different ships, but they had been trying to get people from the shore to their ships who had been out the night before, and there were a lot of sailors blown into the water, and they were trying to pick them up. there were so many different things demanded their attention that they just took all of these different jobs as best as they could. crops we find -- >> we finally got out to the arizona, in the first thing we saw were ashes blowing off the ships.
i could not stop them. i don't have a dustpan. andst shake -- sank down shed a few tears. a lot of the men had burned down to their deaths -- they were piles of ashes because the ship burned so long, so hot. >> we had hundreds of bodies floating around on battleship row, off utah, along the bay. battling -- go off on battling hooks. first, they were trying to identify them by their names on their shorts. then they realized somebody else might have somebody else's shorts or t-shirts, which you ?id, you know and we had a dentist down there. the dentist would take down all their teeth, everything. that is how they identified
them. buried ins were caskets -- regular masses. personnel were buried in wooden caskets. they were too small for them. in the two weeks that followed, i was on the board detail, and we were putting -- pulling waters out of the water, many of the bodies would not fit in the conference, so we had to do whatever we had to to get the body in there. >> they might have had several mortuaries, but they did not have enough cautions -- coffins for the hundreds that were killed. they started making the coffins of any lumber they could get. they opened up all the lumber companies on the island at that time to make coffins. they had one coffin, written in red across the side of it, it said body parts only. host: national park service is
oral history on pearl harbor. travers, whopaul has his own book, "eyewitness to infamy," and those are hard stories to hear -- burying the dead, which you write about in your book. mr. travers: very emotional. i have two gentlemen -- bacon was aboard the utah. overboard, swims to ford island, and the next day he is assigned to burial detail. he said it was one of the toughest things in his life. he said the only time he ever cried during the war is when they took a break one time, after the gentleman just described -- they had to stuff coffins, and pine they hear -- shifting over the cemetery. pretty touching stories. host: number of calls. kevin, illinois. caller: thank you, sir.
i am very fortunate. i was an early baby boomer, and i happen to have teachers and professors of history that literally, throughout the textbooks at the time, and i followed their lead. -- it am curious about is is my perspective that throughout the years, even back when i was in school, pearl harbor was basically jumped over. thee was nothing covering battleships, and ships that were destroyed, and strategically, how the fuel tanks were left, and the aircraft carriers were out. as history has gone by, political correctness and everything, it is almost a forgot thing with youngsters. if you ask them, you know, do you know about pearl harbor, a lot of them will say yeah, it
was like 9/11, and that is pretty much all they knew about it. i was just wondering what your thoughts were on that situation, and the textbook companies that -- i know it has to do with political correctness, but what are your thoughts? mr. travers: i agree with you wholeheartedly. pro harbor has been passed over to a certain extent. if there is one thing important about a collection of oral histories, it connects us with our history, heritage, a more portly, our humanity. -- more importantly, our humanity. they read the stories. you might not be a history buff, but it opens up a portal -- you find something that is interesting. it is like connecting lights, and it illuminates the whole event for you. you realize the sacrifice -- these men and women went to. when i write their narratives -- people trapped in ships, people picking up parts of bodies, it should be a lesson in every
american classroom. that is for sure. , thellow up, myrtle watson army nurse, who i call the first lady of pearl harbor, her narrative was so compelling it was used in a world war ii textbook for middle and high school students. pearl harbor was not completely forgot. it may be largely overlooked by a lot of americans and textbook publishers, and school curriculums for sure. host: california. sandra. go ahead. travers, nicemr. to talk to you. i want to know how many battleships that were raised other than the three we know about -- the arizona, utah, the oklahoma, have been raised and are museums today? i come from california. we have the uss iowa -- it used to be in northern california.
it is down in san pedro as a museum now. to your knowledge, how many that have been raised our museums today in the united states? none to answer your question. of course, the arizona and utah are still there. the oklahoma went under, being towed back to the net estate. a fitting ending -- host: it sunk on the way back. mr. travers: yeah, it was being towed. no battleships today that were at pearl harbor are museums. the last worship at pearl harbor was the uss phoenix, which was sold to argentina in the 1950's. host: what was the fate of that? mr. travers: it was sunk during a battle with great britain -- another fascinating footnote. the only other remaining worship that was i the island is the coast guard -- which is part of
downtown -- in downtown baltimore, and every december 7 they have any emotional song on the decks. there is one other ship that was talkarl harbor, the yard --tug that was recently renovated. those are the last two ships. i invite listeners, get on your computer, type in coast guard -- read about these tremendous histories of these ships. host: where is the music -- museum in arkansas? mr. travers: little rock. host: roy in fairfield, california. caller: good morning. thank you for this conversation. i have two quick things if you would comment on -- i understand the japanese did not bomb the
fuel tanks for fear of smoke harbor,g plans in the and i also understand that most of the film, while it was moving instills, with the japanese film, went down at midway. yeah, that is correct, probably on both parts of the question. take you blow up the farms, you will scare the target. obscure thes, you targets. the commanders wanted to launch yamamotottack, and said no -- that was enough. as far as the film going down, most of the bulk of the film went down when the carrier was put to the bottom of the sea at the battle of midway. we showed the japanese newsreel -- just a tiny fraction. it air to earlier in the program.
you can see that in our video library at c-span.org. jerry, atlantic city, for paul travers. caller: paul, thank you for all of this information and presentation. i have to revisit the issue of the commanders at the pearl harbor station on december 7 -- kimmel and short. i number doing a research paper when i was a freshman in college, which was shortly following the incident at pearl harbor, and i did an awful lot of research, and the thing that has been striking me over the years is this -- that the standard operating procedure for receipt of messages of a significant nature was that upon receipt, wherever they were received on station, those messages had to be transmitted
directly to the war department for decoding, and then for analysis, and then, as needed, communications back to the stations in question with instructions. i always felt there was an omission in that procedure, and wanted to know whether you had anything more to add to this particular issue, particularly in light of the fact that you mentioned in your previous had to behat the two scapegoated. host: a quick response from paul travers. mr. travers: yes, you were correct, there was a breakdown in the processing of classified information. you know, we weren't at war. the commanders had this war warning. they knew war was imminent. as far as, the regular troops handling information -- it did not have a sense of urgency. haley are named -- here we are
on a weekend on a tropical paradise. the fleet is at rest. some people are going up into the town -- most of the soldiers and sailors are coming back. lack ins some processing -- not necessarily decoding, but putting that information to the powers at the -- that be. host: the book is "eyewitness to infamy. our guest is paul travers. we appreciate you joining us. mr. travers: it has been a pleasure, and i would like to say as we take the final step with these pearl harbor survivors, before they fade from our memories, their voices will resonate loudly, and we have to remember -- remember pearl harbor. keep america alert. i thank you for the opportunity to be here today. host: thank you. and a reminder to our viewers, all of our programming will react tonight on american 6:00ry tv on c-span3 at
p.m. and 11:00 p.m. eastern. we take you to wednesday's ceremony from the national world war ii memorial here in the nation's capital. 2016 march the 75th anniversary of the attack on pearl harbor. the surprise attack led to the u.s. entry into world war ii. coming up next a ceremony commemorating the anniversary. the event honored veterans. john mccain gave the keynote address. gentlemen,ies and please be seated. we will go through the reading and presentans their quilt of valor.