Chief Aviation Ordnanceman John Finn was in bed with his wife, Alice, on the Naval Air Station at Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, when a plane suddenly streaked past his window with a flash of red a little before 8 o'clock that morning.
That's odd, he thought. His PBY squadron regularly sent Catalina "flying boats" out on sub patrols, but this one wasn't following the usual flight plan. Then he realized it was part of a formation of single-engine planes. Then machine guns started to fire.
"Who's firing machine guns?" he remembered thinking years later in an oral history. "That's my business! I would normally know - even if it was the squadron next to ours, I'd get the word that they're gonna be doing something with machine guns. Well, you normally don't shoot machine guns on an air station. If you're gonna shoot the machine guns, you go to a designated range where you can fire those guns safely and not kill a bunch of people. All of this ... went through my head - Hey! It's Sunday! ... Who's flying planes?"
Someone banged on Finn's door as he pulled on a pair of dungarees. It was a neighbor, the wife of one of his petty officers. She had heard he was wanted at the hangar right away. He and her husband, Eddie Sullivan, took off in Finn's car, obeying the base speed limit of 20 mph. "I had to observe the thing," Finn said, unaware history was unfolding in front of him.
He rounded a hill, heard a "terrible roaring" and saw a plane that was unmistakably Japanese.