The Transylvania Times -

Pearl Harbor Survivor's Story Recalled At Meeting - Brevard, NC


December 21, 2017

Though Pearl Harbor survivor Craig Kirkpatrick wasn’t able to speak at the WNC Military History Museum to commemorate the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, Joe Parker, the national president of the Blinded Veterans Association, and Ken Corn, a photojournalist for WLOS, spoke about their experiences with Kirkpatrick.

“He joined the Navy before the outbreak of World War II, and he was serving on the U.S.S. Castor, which at the time was anchored in a bay just off from Battle Ship Row, southeast of Pearl Harbor,” Parker said. “They didn’t take a direct hit, and no one on the U.S.S. Castor was killed, so he had a front row seat to the raid.”

After the war, Parker said jobs were hard to find, so eventually Kirkpatrick came to Arden, where he worked for his brother as an electrician, but he then joined the Coast Guard, where he served for 12 years.

Parker said Kirkpatrick, who has been a member of the Blinded Veteran’s Association since 1984, is an “outstanding citizen, and has done a lot of community work, and is well-known throughout this community, and we are proud to have him in our ranks.”

Brevard Mayor Jimmy Harris came to the event to present a proclamation in recognition of Kirkpatrick.

“Kirkpatrick is a serving member of the nation’s greatest generation, and survived the day that President Roosevelt declared as the ‘day that will live in infamy,’” Harris said. “Whereas after serving in the U.S. Navy and in the Pacific Fleet for eight years, including service at Pearl Harbor and obtaining the rank warrant officer (W1) and transferring to the U.S. Coast Guard in serving an additional 12 years and retiring as a master chief with a total of over 20 years of sea service . . . we take great pleasure in recognizing Chief Craig Kirkpatrick for his continuous dedication, leadership and contributions to our state, region and our community.”

Corn, who was a photojournalist in Iraq for two months in 2003, and worked for WLOS and WRAL in Raleigh, interviewed Kirkpatrick in 2013, when Kirkpatrick was 96.

“He’s an amazing man, and I wish I could have seen him today,” Corn said.

Kirkpatrick showed footage of some of his interviews with Kirkpatrick.

“On the morning of Dec 7, which was Sunday morning, I remember that we were just about finishing breakfast,” Kirkpatrick said on the video, “and at a quarter-of-eight, we had a visitor come down from the bridge yelling, ‘air raid, air raid.’”

Kirkpatrick said there were 135 men on the U.S.S. Castor, and most of them were on the “mess deck,” where everyone ate.

“We all got out and proceeded to our battle stations, and I went up a ladder, which was nearby where I was sitting in the mess deck, to the second deck,” Kirkpatrick said. “I started out a door, which led out into the stern section of the main deck, and I looked up and saw an aircraft in motion.”

On the aircraft, Kirkpatrick said he saw the Japanese flag on the plane, as well as two men inside of it 100 feet above him, “just right over the starboard stern.”

“It scared me a little bit,” Kirkpatrick said. “I turned tail and went down in the engine room to go to my battle station, which was a steering engine room. I started up one of the steering gear engines, but about that time one of the other folks came in and I told him I had done all I could at that time.

“He was starting to take over, so I told him I was going topside to see what was going on.”

Kirkpatrick emerged to see what he described as “a mess.”

“The damage was done,” Kirkpatrick said. “I was about 300 feet to where the ships were hit, and I couldn’t tell exactly what was done but by that time we had boats out looking for survivors, and there had been a few blown off the ships.”

Looking around, Kirkpatrick saw a battleship on fire from “stern to stern.”

“Golly, I thought, they’ve really caught us sleeping,” Kirkpatrick said. “We’d been expecting some repercussions, but we hadn’t expected the Japanese.”

At one point, Kirkpatrick said there was a flag flying over their ship indicating that they were loaded with explosives and ammunition.

“We had about 2,000 tons, and one guy went up there and took it down,” Kirkpatrick said, “because if the Japanese had seen it, they would have let us have it.”

Kirkpatrick was 19 when he was aboard the U.S.S. Castor.

When Corn finished with his presentation of interviews with Kirkpatrick, Parker spoke, pointing out that Sunday morning on ship was a quiet time of rest.

“And that’s what was taking place that morning on Pearl Harbor,” Parker said. “People were sleeping in, fixing breakfast, with no anticipation of anything big happening.”

He said he knew, in the political realm, that there was talk of entering the war, but he said no one thought the Japanese would attack Pearl Harbor.

“There are stories from that day that can haunt you forever, and they are real,” Parker said. “And that’s the reason we appreciate people like Craig Kirkpatrick, who not only survived, but continued to survive a lot more obstacles in life, and thank goodness he’s still ticking today.”


Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2017

Rendered 01/16/2018 10:35