- Category: USS Arizona Survivor Stories
- Last Updated: Saturday, 21 November 2015 23:33
- Published: Friday, 23 May 2003 00:00
Harry Lionel Fitch
Ensign on 7 December 1941
Submitted by Harry L. Fitch
I am an Arizona survivor. I am a survivor of the Arizona because I was not aboard at the time of the attack. I had gone ashore to Honolulu on Saturday, December 6th, to buy my mother in Michigan a Christmas present. My shore leave did not expire until 0800 the next morning. I had not been dancing for six months. So, when the girl who sold me the Christmas present went dancing with me in the evening, we had such a good time that I missed the last boat trip back to the ship. But, it didn't matter, because I could catch an early boat in the morning and be back on board before roll call. After I had taken my date home in a taxi, I got a room in the Seaside cottages at Waikiki. Early in the morning, I was on my way back from Waikiki to Honolulu and on by taxi to Pearl Harbor. As the taxi raced through the gates of Pearl Harbor, great clouds of black smoke filled the sky. I thought the rows of big white fuel tanks would be bombed and burning but as we passed, the white tanks squatted quietly row on row completely untouched.
As our taxi came to the boat landing, I could see the smoke rising from burning oil floating around the ships. The smoke was so thick we could not identify which ships were burning. Ships' boats were criss-crossing through oil and water, and then I spied the Arizona boat making a bow wave as it approached the landing and the boat's crew leaped onto the dock to secure the boat, men in grimy dirty white uniforms began leaping onto the dock. I edged close to the boat to jump aboard, when Ensign "Greasy" Glenn jumped off the boat onto the dock. He yelled: "It's no use, Fitch. The ship's been abandoned." I couldn't believe it. Then I began hearing snatches of talk, a bomb going down the stack and blowing up. At first I was stunned. The sense of tragedy has taken a while to develop. It gets revived every year around December 7th at the Arizona Reunion.
USS Arizona survivor Harry Fitch of Port Townsend, Wash., saw the memorial for the first time in December during ceremonies for the 60th anniversary of the attack.
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