- Category: USS Arizona Survivor Stories
- Last Updated: Sunday, 22 November 2015 00:50
- Published: Tuesday, 05 December 2000 00:00
Edward Joseph Janikowski
Coxswain on 7 December 1941
Submitted by Vincent J. Vlach, Jr.
Survivor Edward Janikowski was a Coxswain assigned to the 7th Division (boats and cranes) on 12/7/41 when our ship was destroyed by Japanese aircraft during the attack on Pearl Harbor. He enlisted at Minneapolis at age 19 on January 9, 1940. His home was and still is Winona, MN. He reported on board Arizona on 3/26/40 after completion of training at NTS, Great Lakes.
He had been on duty only a few minutes as Boatswain's mate of the Watch (portside) supervising the loading of a motor launch that would take shipmates ashore for church and liberty when the Japanese started their attack.
When general quarters sounded, it took a few minutes to handle certain duties. He was racing to go to his battle station in the foremast when a bomb struck the forecastle by turret II. The resulting concussion blew him backwards 20 feet over the ship's rail and into the water. Hampered by a shrapnel wound to his right foot, he began to swim to shore. Sailors from the launch he had been loading only moments before fished him from the oily water and flames. The Japanese machine gunned the launch but miraculously only one man was injured. Janikowski was taken with the injured to the hospital ship USS Solace where he ws treated for shock, burns to his hands, head, face and legs and the shrapnel wounds to his foot and chest. Eleven days later, his parents received a telegram signed by Admiral Chester Nimitz stating that he had been wounded in action in the performance of his duty and in the service of his country. They were asked not to divulge the name of his ship to prevent possible aid to our enemies. He recuperated on board SOLACE until he was shipped to the Naval Hospital in Vallejo, CA. He arrived there on Christmas Day 1941. After recuperating, he returned to duty at Pearl Harbor in March, 1942 and served 38 months aboard an Admiral's launch. He did not take part in another battle because of his burns. The back of his hands are still smooth from the burns.
He is fortunate that he was momentarily delayed before heading for his battle station. The force of the explosion on the forecastle caused the foremast to lean forward into the fire that burned for three days. All who reached their battle stations perished.
In January 1942 he was well enough to spend a two week leave at home in Winona. He was welcomed as a hero and inducted into the Earl H. Neville Post 1287 of the WWII VFW as the first member of WWII and the first Winonan wounded in combat in that war.
He returned to Winona in 1945 to marry Genevieve Salaski. He then had duty as captain of a tug in Bremerton, WA, a yard oiler at Guam and in Japan served aboard a degaussing ship. He also say duty in Hong Kong and Korea before being assigned to the reserve fleet at Astoria, Oregon. He retired as Chief Boatswain's Mate after 21 years of naval service. He then spent 16 years working in the Bremerton shipyard and retired from that employment in 1976 and again returned to Winona.
In 1985, he married Marion Legreid; they traveled to Hawaii for the 50th Pearl Harbor Anniversary. They and other survivors joined with President Bush and the First Lady in saluting the flag that still flies above the ship and the approximately 900 still entombed in her hull.
He is a member of the USS Arizona Reunion Association, the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, the VFW, American Legion, Eagles Club and the Red Men. He appears on TV every December 7th to inform the public about Pearl Harbor. He also goes to schools at the 5th grade level to inform them of the attack and hands out cards with his autograph.
While he was in the hospital in Vallejo, a charred sailor recognized him and called his name. Edward did not know who he was because he was burned so badly. He said, "I'm Goshen." He was burned all over his body (e.g., GOSHEN, William E., from Kentucky).
Information researched and compiled by I. B. Nease and N. A. Nease and provided on USSARIZONA.ORG free of charge.
May not be reprinted in any form, other than educational use, without prior written permission of the author.