5
View from the Cane Fields

Alan Conger arrived in Honolulu in September 1941 to begin graduate school at the University of Hawaii. He kept a detailed diary, and the following story was taken from an account of the attack he wrote on December 8. Like many who witnessed the attack, he now finds it hard to believe how naive he and his companions were.

On that Sunday morning Conger went on a field trip with his taxonomy class into the Wainai Mountains. He was picked up at 6:30 by a Honolulu dentist named Richardson and his wife, who were friends and admirers of the professor, Dr. Harold St. John. St. John permitted several nonstudents to accompany his classes on the outings, in part because they helped provide transportation for the students.

Conger and the Richardsons went to Waipahu to meet the rest of the group of about ten. Their route took them past Pearl Harbor and Schofield Barracks before the servicemen were stirring.

"About three miles south of Schofield, we turned west and started driving through the pineapple fields to get up to the edge of the mountains, where we would start hiking," Conger said. "It was while we were driving through the open pineapple fields that we began to notice things happening. We were about three miles from Schofield and about two and a half miles from Wheeler Field, and about 900 feet above them.

"I noticed planes diving down on Wheeler Field, and wanted to watch, so all of us stopped and got out [of the cars] to watch the show. It was a thrilling sight: Planes could be heard flying above the clouds which hid them from sight. Then you could hear their engines begin to scream as

-53-

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The Day the War Began
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction: Saturday, December 6, 1941 1
  • 1 - The First Shot 21
  • 2 - The Americans Fight Back 27
  • 3 - Adventures of the Henley 43
  • 4 - Game Called Due to War 49
  • 5 - View from the Cane Fields 53
  • 6 - Friendly Fire 61
  • 7 - Chinese-American Family 66
  • 8 - Hell on a Sunshiny Day 70
  • 9 - The Military Takes Over Hawaii 77
  • 10 - Niihau Fights Back 82
  • 11 - The Saga of the Pacific Clipper 86
  • 12 - The Forgotten Attack 93
  • 13 - On the Home Front 97
  • 14 - War Comes to the Football Game 105
  • 15 - The Delayed Message 114
  • 16 - The White House Prepares for War 120
  • 17 - War Becomes a Reality 124
  • 18 - Extra! Extra! 132
  • 19 - Strange New Words 135
  • 20 - Sudden Heroes 142
  • 21 - The Mating Dance Continues 149
  • 22 - The Nation Unifies 154
  • 23 - Hawaii's Longest Night 157
  • 24 - Defending the East Coast 162
  • 25 - I Slept Like a Baby 166
  • Bibliography 169
  • Index 173
  • About the Author 181
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