Mr. Jack Holder, veteran of Pearl Harbor, Midway, Guadalcanal, as well as Europe signed the Log Book on 29 August 2020.
He vividly remembers mustering the morning of 7 December 1941 on Ford island. His section leader had just started roll call when the sound of screaming aircraft interrupted, followed by a tremendous explosion as the hangar (what may have been Hangar 6) beside them was bombed.
We looked at the sky and seen all the aircraft circling with the rising sun insignia, and we knew exactly what had happened.Jack Holder recalling 7 December 1941
Surrounded by buildings and aircraft on fire, all while the Japanese attack continued, Holder and some shipmates sought refuge in a shallow sewer ditch under construction. To this day Holder clearly recalls laying in the ditch as strafing bullets hit the ground mere feet from him.
Having survived the initial attack, Holder and his comrades manned a hastily constructed machine gun position over the following three nights.
We had no idea of where the Japanese fleet was, or if they planned to return. But every aircraft and every ship noise we heard, we figured was them.Jack Holder on the days following the attack on Pearl Harbor
Battle of Midway
Following Pearl Harbor, Jack Holder continued to fly as a flight engineer on a PBY-5 with Patrol Squadron 23 (VP-23). He soon found himself on the front line again as intercepted radio traffic indicated an imminent Japanese attack at Midway.
By 26 May 1942, a PBY squadron from VP-23 commenced daily patrols searching for the Japanese invasion force. After the initial sighting on 3 June, the crew on Holders’ PBY-5 participated in the second aircraft response spotting the incoming armada. By 04:30 on 4 June, Vice Admiral Nagumo launched his initial attack on Midway itself. As the Japanese bombers and fighters were taking off, eleven PBYs were leaving Midway to run their search patterns. At 05:34, a PBY reported sighting two Japanese carriers and another spotted the inbound airstrike 10 minutes later – so began the decisive Battle of Midway ; a pivotal turning point in the Pacific war.
Holder’s remarkable story is told in the book “Fear Adrenaline and Excitement”.
We remain indebted to his friend Mr. Thomas Baldrick for being such a wonderful facilitator.