Part I

The Dundalk Eagle - - NEWS -

When I met the now late Joseph L. Lockard, 90, (1922-2012) for our ex­clu­sive in­ter­view in 1988 at then Bal­ti­more-Wash­ing­ton In­ter­na­tional Air­port, he was an af­fa­ble, re­tired elec­tron­ics ex­ec­u­tive.

But on Sun­day, Dec. 7, 1941, he was in a po­si­tion to help de­flect the Ja­panese sneak air at­tack against the United State Navy Pa­cific Fleet, an­chored off Ford Is­land, Pearl Har­bor, Honolulu, Oahu, Hawai­ian Is­lands, then a US Ter­ri­tory, and since 1959 a State of the Union.

This was and re­mains the all-time great­est sea dis­as­ter and de­feat ever suf­fered by our Navy, won by 40 tor­pedo bombers, 51 dive bombers, 49 high-level bombers, and six air­craft car­ri­ers of the Im­pe­rial Ja­panese Navy/IJN in the most sig­nif­i­cant air raid in all of mar­tial ae­rial an­nals to date.

It was Mr. Lockard’s fate to be an un­heeded 1775 Amer­i­can Paul Re­vere-like mes­sen­ger of the stun­ning, sur­prise Pearl Har­bor bat­tle, whose timely and cor­rect word of warn­ing was dis­re­garded by higher au­thor­ity.

Sta­tis­ti­cally, the Bat­tle of Pearl Har­bor---rarely ac­tu­ally called that, I note--killed 2,335 US ser­vice­men and women, with 18 Amer­i­can war­ships ei­ther sunk or badly dam­aged, and over 200 air­craft de­stroyed, many of them on the ground.

This is the story be­hind that story, as I got it from him both per­son­ally and di­rectly in 1988, three decades ago now.

It fol­lows.

Joe Lockard and Ge­orge E. El­liott, Jr.---both then but 19- — were a pair of Army pri­vates op­er­at­ing an early radar unit that was ac­tu­ally man­u­fac­tured here in Bal­ti­more by our very own former West­ing­house firm.

The two pri­vates ran the unit at Opana near Kahuku Point on the north­ern tip of Oahu, the most pop­u­lated in the over­all chain of Hawai­ian Is­lands (see il­lus­tra­tion) on that Sun­day, Dec. 7, 1941.

In 1965, I hiked all over the Kahuka Point area as a new mem­ber of the is­lands’ premier mil­i­tary unit--both then and now---the famed US Army 25th In­fantry Divi­sion Tropic Light­ning, that was the main ground de­fen­sive bul­wark for the most im­por­tant of the is­lands, while not the largest.

Oahu was also the home of the City of Honolulu, near which was the Pa­cific Fleet’s home port of Pearl Har­bor.

The base at Pearl had been built in 1908---a fact rarely if ever men­tioned in most ac­counts of the bat­tle--as the di­rect re­sult of the stun­ning vic­tory of Ja­pan over Rus­sia in the Rus­soJa­panese War of 1904-05.

The over-con­fi­dent Zarist Rus­sians had been badly de­feated on both land and sea by the Ja­panese, whom they’d grossly un­der­es­ti­mated, as we did as well dur­ing 1940-41.

Then Amer­i­can Pres­i­dent Theodore Roo­sevelt won the No­bel Peace Prize for bro­ker­ing the end­ing of that war, but he saw im­me­di­ately the threat that the Ris­ing Sun Em­pire of Ja­pan rep­re­sented to the US in the far Pa­cific.

Hawaii had been se­lected as the site for the new base rather than the Philip­pine Is­lands be­cause Wash­ing­ton viewed Oahu as the cush­ion of first de­fense for the vul­ner­a­ble US West Coast.

The Philip­pines were seen both then and in 1942 as less de­fen­si­ble, and, in­deed, were writ­ten off by the Al­lies for a later re-con­quest, as oc­curred dur­ing 1944-45.

Still, the US Asi­atic Fleet was sta­tioned there in 1940, when FDR sud­denly re­lo­cated the Pa­cific Fleet from the US West Coast to Hawaii as well.

The much-of­fended Ja­panese saw the new Pearl base as proof that the US now sought con­trol over the en­tire Pa­cific Ocean, win­ning it since Septem­ber 1945 un­til this very mo­ment.


A topo­graph­i­cal re­lief map of Oahu, Hawaii in the chain that con­tains the main city of Honolulu (bot­tom right) and also Pearl Har­bor (at bot­tom cen­ter) just above Ma­mala Bay. On the morn­ing of Sun­day, Dec. 7, 1941, Pvts. Joseph L. Lockard and Ge­orge El­liott were man­ning a Bal­ti­more-built West­ing­house SCR-270 Long-Range Air­craft De­tec­tion Unit that was based at the north­ern part (top left) of the is­land.

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