Pearl Harbor Account

Courier Tribune
15 Dec 1941
page 1

Eye Witness
to Pearl H’B’r

Saw Jap Planes Fall

The Pilots Commit Suicide
Fred Koelzer’s
Letter Confident

It brings the Jap raid at Pearl Harbor even closer home to learn that a Senecan, Fred, Koelzer, son of Mr. and Mrs. J. P. Koelzer, was an eye-witness to this momentous event that marked America’s entrance into the Second Word war. Fred say the Jap planes come over — saw the Japs bomb American ships – saw Jap planes reel and fall under the fire of American guns — saw or learned that downed Jap pilots committed suicide.

But let the letter be recounted in order. It was written on Monday, day after the raid. It arrived here Saturday, fine time, considering the conditions.

Fred is working near Pearl Harbor as an electrician.

From his letter:

It is the second day of the ‘big wind’ but all is very calm and quiet. It is dark all of the time except when the sun shines. Then we have electricity but not at night. It is a bit tough for refrigeration and the like. I am working from 6:00 to 6:00 and will be, seven days per week, for some time. Wasn’t hurt — just scared a bit.

I was on duty at the docks and had a close-up of it all. Saw one Jap plane go down in flames and another fall with one wing sawed off. Also saw the ships that were hit, just when they were hit. It made a person pretty — mad to know that our planes had been grounded on the first few shots. But believe me, the ground batteries and ships got into action. The Japs knew plenty well they were in a hot spot. I don’t know how many were shot down but they went back with quite a few less than the 200 they brought here.

Sunday night a very few came over but as the boys were ready they kept them so high they couldn’t do anything and we got two more. It’s quiet today except for reinforcements that are coming up from the states, and that’s no small number.
We are safer out here than in town, as we are close to a water pumping station.

One Jap plane that was disabled landed near the soldiers. When they went to take it, the officer shot himself and in the other officer cut his belly wide open.

It’s no use to tell you not to worry, but we’re safe and our boys will have those yellow-bellies cared for in a short time.”

Co-operating with the administration’s request to withhold information about damage and casualties at Pearl Harbor and let the Japs guess, little can be printed about that. But no one who reads Fred’s letter will suffer a loss of morale.