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History and Heritage

A Machine Gunner's Story During The Pearl Harbor Attack

Stories from Pearl Harbor

Ray Emory, a seaman first class stationed aboard light cruiser USS Honolulu (CL 48) the morning of the attack on Pearl Harbor, remembered reading the morning paper by his bunk when the general quarters alarm sounded.


What he presumed to be a drill on his way topside turned into what President Franklin D. Roosevelt later called "a day which will live in infamy."

A trained machine gunner, Emory immediately removed the cover from his .50-caliber mount and was in the process of removing the cover from a second mount when he saw a plane drop a torpedo headed for battleship row.

"I thought to myself, the God-damned Japanese are attacking," he said.

Over the next few hours, Emory recalled both he and his fellow shipmates shooting at any and all targets overhead. Taken by surprise, he and others did all they could to protect their ships and each other - to do what they were trained for, but did not see coming during the time of peace following World War I.

For more information on U.S. Navy history, visit the Naval History and Heritage Command website.
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