“When we saw all the airplanes circling overhead with the rising sun insignia, we knew what was happening.” That’s when Jack Holder knew the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
A Sun Lakes resident, Holder described his experiences during that fateful day during a presentation to the Sun Lakes Aero Club (SLAC) gathering December 21 at the Sun Lakes Country Club.
“While on duty standing watch, our section leader began to call role,” Holder said. “We heard a screaming aircraft and moments later, a terrible explosion. We ran outside and saw a hangar next to ours engulfed in smoke and flames. “We jumped into a sewer ditch behind the hangar and a Japanese plane headed straight for us and started firing. Fortunately, he hit the dirt piled up by the ditch, missing us by a few feet.” “I said to myself, ‘God, please don’t let me die in this ditch.’” Seventy-five minutes later, the second wave of Japanese aircraft attacked the island. Holder said he saw Battleship Row. The Arizona and several other battleships had been hit, and eventually sank.
Holder said he and two shipmates spent the next three days in machine gun pits built from sandbags, eating bologna sandwiches and fighting mosquitoes. But the third wave never came.
Holder also told of his experience during the remainder of the war, and as a corporate pilot. He has been a Sun Lakes resident since 1992.
Now in its 20th year, SLAC sponsors programs the third Monday of each month November through April at the Sun Lakes Country Club. The programs are open to all Sun Lakes residents and others interested in aviation. More information on the club is available from Bob Walch at 895-8869 or Gary Vacin at 298-7017 or at the club’s website at www.sunlakesaeroclub.org.