BLYTHEVILLE, AR (KAIT) - Larry Katz was a 23-year-old radio operator on a PBY patrol aircraft stationed at Pearl Harbor December 7th, 1941. Temporarily assigned to the Pearl Harbor Communications office. Katz and his friends were contemplating heading out to the beach as the attack began.
"A plate glass window blew out where we was standing, and we noticed it was a concussion of the bombings. We saw a lot of planes flying and we really didn't know what was going on," Katz said. Then a sailor ran by them carrying a portable radio and told them that all personnel were being recalled to the base. They jumped into a cab and headed out.
Katz said the one real strong memory that has stuck with him over the years was the sound of a typewriter from inside the cab.
"Click, click, click, and I looked upm and there was a plane coming down the highway. At that time little red spots coming out of the wingm and we didn't know what it was. He sideslipped to the right, banked and turned down Hickam Fieldm and we saw what we called The Meatball. "
Katz said they were trying to get to Ford Island, where there planes were based, but couldn't get a ride over, so they raced over to a dry dock where the battleship Pennsylvania was under attack.
"It was the Cason, Downs and the USS Pennsylvania tied up between them."
Katz and his friends began to carry the wounded off the deck of the battleship and the destroyers. Suddenly the planes came in again.
"Just about that time, Japanese came over again and started dropping bombs, so I dove into a hole."
After the bombers passed, Katz said his buddy crawled out from under a railroad flat car. He smiled at the recollection. "He was under one of those flat rail cars. It had ammunition, like 16 inch shells that was loading onto the battleship. If it had gotten hit we would have all blown up."
Katz said he arrived at the post with the attack well underway. I asked him how long it took before it was over.
"What seemed like a lifetime was about 2 hours," said Katz. "We were finally able to get to Ford Island, and by that time the raid was over."
"Did you lose any friends?" I asked him. "No, not that I recall, it's kinda vague. We lost some planes and a hanger, but I didn't know anybody that got killed. Lots of people died though."
Katz said people really don't think much about Pearl Harbor except like today.
"During the rest of the years that have gone by it's hardly thought of except for somebody like me that I know it happened."
To us in it's historic perspective, Pearl Harbor was a terrible day, but to a 23-year-old radio operator, Pearl Harbor was a little bit different.
"Being young, didn't think about it," said Katz. "It was just another adventure."
But, then perhaps he changed his mind as he looked down at his hands, and his eyes shifted with a thoughtful look.
"It was a harrowing event."