Survivor recalls attack at Ewa battlefield: ‘I knew this was no drill’

The Ewa Mooring Mast Field was one of the first places attacked on Dec. 7, 1941.

The field, formerly known as Marine Corps Air Station Ewa, was hit during the attack on Pearl Harbor and later served as the hub for all Marine aviation units heading into combat during World War II.

A Marine who was working at the field when the attacks broke out said it’s a moment he will never forget.

“On Dec. 7, Sunday, we had the day off, had breakfast at 7 o’clock and went back in our tents and all of sudden we heard some noise. I ran out to the street, looked up the street,” said survivor John Hughes. “I saw this low-flying airplane come across, a big red ball on the side, and a big torpedo underneath. I knew this was no drill.”


Hughes says he and other service members tried unsuccessfully to fend off the attacking planes while protecting dozens of their own aircraft that were parked on the field.

“While we pushed an airplane a little bit, a bunch would come in and we’d get our rifles and get off a couple shots and then go back to pushing airplanes,” Hughes said. “I just remember our people that were there under my experience here on this field, also afterwards, seeing this mass of damage that was done. It has stuck in my mind ever since. I don’t think I will ever forget it.”

The base was closed in 1952 and is now abandoned.

The battlefield was listed under the National Register of Historic Places in May.

Many more events are scheduled this week to remember the 75th anniversary of the attack, including a morning commemoration ceremony at Pearl Harbor on Wednesday, Dec. 7, which KHON2 will air live on-air and online here.

Click here for KHON2’s ongoing coverage of the Pearl Harbor 75th anniversary commemoration.

Click here for more information on the commemoration itself.

Watch “Pearl Harbor: Untold Stories of Heroism” this Wednesday, Dec. 7, at 9:30 p.m. on KHON2. Click here for more information.


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