6
Friendly Fire

Among the civilians deeply involved in the attack were members of the Honolulu Fire Department, the only civilian fire department in America that has fought fires caused by war. Three civilian firemen were killed that day and five others were wounded. A sixth was wounded two days later when a bomb exploded.

The shells landed all over Honolulu, from out on Diamond Head to the foothills of the mountains to the Pali Highway. More fell on downtown Honolulu than elsewhere, including a cluster that hit on McCully near South King Street, setting fires that leveled a block of stores and homes, and put thirty-one families out of homes.

At the time, everyone assumed that the fires were caused by incendiary bombs, but later the firefighters and military leaders determined that the explosions were from American shells, and the accompanying fires were usually caused by wind- or fire-blown sparks hitting the tinder-dry frame buildings which characterized Honolulu at that time. There was an occasional exception, of course, such as a house fire Aiea and one in a cane field, both of which were caused by Japanese planes crashing. All told, the property damage was estimated at $500,000, a considerable sum at that time.

About three dozen explosions were pinpointed on city maps, of which four or five caused major fires. In addition to the McCully and South King Street fires, explosions occurred in Pacific Heights, on Fort and School streets, at the News Building on Kapiolani, and at the Lewers and Cooke Building in downtown Honolulu.

-61-

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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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