“December 7, 1941 – Sunday Pearl Harbor: – At about 0745 this morning I was awakened by the general alarm for general quarters. I decided it wasn’t a drill by the look on everyone’s face, so I hopped out of my bunk, scrambled up the ladder to the topside.. I looked around and saw planes diving from out of the sun … We were caught with our pants down there is no doubt about it.”
So begins the World War II diary of Charles P. Swift. In this first page, he went on to describe how the Japanese first went after the battleships, and the sinking of the first ship.
Charles P. Swift was born October 14, 1914. Raised in Lyons, he graduated from Lyons High School in 1932. Charles worked for the National Park Service in Rocky Mountain National Park. He joined the CCC in 1936 and was released in the spring of 1937. He enlisted in the US Navy in October of 1937. He was stationed on the USS Phelps, as a Radioman, in Pearl Harbor in 1941. He retired from the Navy in 1957.
LOCATION OF DIARY: LYONS REDSTONE MUSEUM
The excerpt above is from a transcription of the original diary pages that were transcribed by museum staff and are now part of the museum’s collection.
This is available for viewing from June to October, 7 days a week at the museum.
The attack killed 2,403 U.S. personnel, including 68 civilians, and destroyed or damaged 19 U.S. Navy ships, including 8 battleships. The three aircraft carriers of the U.S. Pacific Fleet were out to sea on maneuvers. Flags should be flown at half mast in remembrance. (It is not a federal holiday)