Ray Perry was an Army private on Dec. 7, 1941. Assigned then as driver for the Hawaii Department Quartermaster at Fort Armstrong in Honolulu, he spent the day helping move wounded men at Hickam Field to the base hospital.

Perry retired from the Army in 1960 and worked for a time with Air America in Southeast Asia. He went to work as a fire inspector at Hickam Air Force Base and now has retired a second time. This is his story.

— Jim Lea

That Sunday morning I went to the colonel's quarters at Fort Armstrong to pick him up, but he said he was taking the car himself to Fort Shafter.

I was running around trying to get out of the way because the anti-aircraft guns we had at Armstrong were shooting (rounds with) contact fuses. The rounds had to hit something before they went off.

They were going up and coming back down and exploding in our motorpool.

I went over to our first sergeant and said, "I'm volunteering."

He said, "You don't even know what I want volunteers for."

I said, "I don't care. I just want to get out of here."

He said Hickam had asked volunteers to help pick up wounded and get them to the hospital.

Hickam had a clinic of only about 14 beds. Most of the wounded were being taken to Tripler (Army hospital), which was 14 or 15 buildings across the street from Fort Shafter.

Five drivers volunteered. We got into trucks and went out the gate but got only as far as the power plant (about ¾-mile) when the traffic jammed up.

An MP told us the only way we could get out to Hickam was to drive down the railroad tracks, so that's what we did.

When we got to the spur leading off to Hickam we could see all the smoke and fire. That was the Hawaiian Air Department burning. The barracks (Hale Makai) didn't get hit until later, close to 10 a.m.

We drove down Hangar Avenue, dodging debris, then pulled in and circled our trucks like we were protecting ourselves from Indians.

There were a lot of wounded waiting. One guy had one arm blown off at the elbow and his other hand blown off.

We were getting about 12 wounded into each truck and then about 8:35 or 8:40 a.m. somebody shouted, "Here they come again!"

I saw that somebody had made up a big red cross with mecurichrome on a sheet or something. That just made us a better target.

The trucks were destroyed. We lost about 13 of those guys.

We then tried to commandeer a flatbed truck to carry a couple more of the guys to the hospital, but the driver said he couldn't leave.

One of the guys pulled out his pistol and pointed it at him and said, "What do you mean you can't go?"

(The driver) decided he could take them to the hospital.

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