An Untold Story Of Pearl Harbor

Finally told. It’s a good read, but I think this probably isn’t right:

Firefighters from the Hickam Air Force Base carried the victims in. The men had a red T marked on their foreheads, mute testimony of the efficiency of first-aiders in giving tetanus shots to ward off lockjaw.

I suspect that it meant that they had tourniquets that had to be managed, not that they’d gotten tetanus shots.

8 thoughts on “An Untold Story Of Pearl Harbor”

  1. The ‘T’ on someone’s forehead is the standard battlefield / shipboard sign that someone has a tourniquet.

  2. While I don’t intend to detract from this report, all reports I’ve read of the Japanese attack is that it was solely focused on the military targets at Pearl Harbor. The civilian deaths were mostly from fires started by anti-air shells.

    Except for some strafing, the Japanese confined their attack on 7 December to military installations. The “bombs” which fell on Honolulu and other civilian parts of the island were Navy 5-inch antiaircraft shells which had failed to detonate in the air. Explosions in Honolulu started three major fires, and at least 57 civilians were killed and nearly as many seriously injured

  3. That was the first time I’d heard of marking someone with a “T”. I’ve read before that medics used to use lipstick to mark an “M” on a wounded man’s forehead indicating he’d been administered morphine. Too much morphine can kill you.

  4. My then-eleven-year-old father-in-law watched the attack from a tree on the city side of Punchbowl, near where this reporter was, and saw some Japanese planes drop bombs on the city. The AA fire started later, and he and his brother went indoors for cover.

    1. I oncev took care of an elderly lady who’d grown up in Honolulu and witnessed the attack. Her father was hit in the back by a spent “Japanese .50 caliber bullet”. I asked if she was sure it was .50 caliber, and she said, “Oh yes! We measured and weighed it.” I had to break it to her that it was certainly a stray American round from either an anti-aircraft machine gun or a P-40 fighter since the Japanese aircraft at that time used only 7.7mm machine guns or 20mm cannon. Amusingly, her parents were very liberal for the time and said she could date non-whites of good character as long as she understood it could cause her some trouble. The only exception was, “NO Samoans!!!”

  5. A “T” printed on the forehead is a standard EMS signal that the patient has a tourniquet somewhere (in case we can’t tell the hospital personnel).

    The inability to pass the message along at the hospital mostly applies to mass casuality situations, when we’ll be triaging in the field and others will do the transport, but I was taught to do it in every case, even when we were going to the hospital with the patient. Best to make it a habit; if you always do it, you’ll always do it when it matters.

    (Use of a tourniquet is rare outside of mass casuality incidents, but it can happen.)

  6. Just to further split hairs: What also doesn’t seem quite right is the reference to “Hickam Air Force Base”, since the USAF didn’t exist until, I think, 1948.

Comments are closed.