- Category: USS Arizona Survivor Stories
- Last Updated: Thursday, 19 November 2015 22:20
- Published: Friday, 23 May 2003 00:00
Jim Dick Miller
Ensign on 7 December 1941
Statement of Ensign Jim D. Miller
From: USS Arizona Action Report - 13 December 1941
I had gotten up at about 0745, and had started to dress when a short air raid alarm sounded. The Arizona's air raid alarm consisted of the sounding of three blasts of a warning howler over the general announcing system. What I heard was only one short blast as though some one had accidentally touched the switch. I felt one explosion near the ship which seemed to me like a no-load shot on No. 2 Catapult. However it was followed by two more explosions, and I decided it was not a no-load shot, but of course had no idea just what the explosions were. Then the word was passed to set Condition ZED below the third deck. I slipped on a uniform and started to go down to the third deck to check up on the water tight doors and hatches. I still did not realize that there was actually an air raid. As soon as I came up to the second deck from the lower wardroom, I met a gunner's mate who said he was trying to find the magazine keys. I went into the Captain's cabin to call him and get the keys if possible. The Captain was not there. I then looked in the Gunnery Officer's Stateroom to see if I could get the keys from him, but he was not in either. By that time the gunner's mate had left me, and I went on down to the third deck.
General Quarters was sounded. I went into Turret III through the lower handling room to the booth, took the turret officer's station and manned the 2JE phones to Plot. Communications to Plot were OK. However, Turret III was the only turret I heard on the line. Shortly after I had reached the booth the turret was shaken by a bomb explosion of not very great intensity. After a minute or two a much more terrific explosion shook the turret. Smoke poured in through the overhang hatch, and I could see nothing but reddish flame outside. The 2JE phones went dead, all power went off the turret, and all lights went out. From all reports that I could get from inside the turret, the turret was not even half manned. I believe that it was at about this time that a bomb hit on the starboard side of the quarterdeck next to Turret IV, penetrated down to the third deck and exploded. From later examination I found that this bomb had glanced off the side of Turret IV and then had penetrated the decks. My lower handling room crew was shaken up, and water began coming into the lower handling room. Explosion gases were filling the turret from the overhang hatch and from openings into the lower room. I stepped outside the turret to see what the condition was on the quarterdeck. There were several small fires on the deck and awnings. I noticed several badly burned men lying on deck and saw Ensign Anderson, who had been Junior Officer of the Deck, lying on deck with a bad cut on his head.
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