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History and Heritage

USS Canopus Part 1: Far Behind Enemy Lines

Paradise to purgatory

For Randall Edwards, duty aboard the submarine tender USS Canopus (AS 9) could not have been sweeter. Although war had been raging in Europe for nearly three years, Edwards and his shipmates were as far from the front lines as possible - literally half a world away.

The warm climate of the Bataan peninsula, where Canopus was at anchor, only amplified the idyllic setting - Edwards could only hope this December paradise would never end.

As a Radioman 1st Class, he was one of the first to hear the news: the Japanese had just bombed Pearl Harbor. In the course of just a few hours that December 7, nearly all of the Pacific Fleet had been reduced to smoldering wreckage surrounding Ford Island. More than 2,000 Sailors and Marines were lost that day - over 1,000 aboard the USS Arizona alone.

Overnight and without weighing anchor, Edwards and the rest of the Canopus crew were now far behind enemy lines.