3 Replies Latest reply on Mar 5, 2021 8:43 AM by Matt Orfalea

    Looking for Pearl Harbor testimony of Private Joseph McDonald

    Matt Orfalea Newbie

      I believe it is p. 4152-4163 from Joint Committee Exhibit No.145 (Army Pearl Harbor Board, July 20 to Oct. 20, 1944). But I can't find that document online. Any help would be much appreciated!

        • Re: Looking for Pearl Harbor testimony of Private Joseph McDonald
          Elliot Schneider Ranger



          Found the information your seeking. Here it is below.





          (The witness was sworn by the Recorder and advised of his rights under Article of War 24.)

          1. Colonel WEST. Mr. McDonald, will you please state to the Board your name, rank, organization, and station.

          Mr. McDonald. T‑4; Joseph P. McDonald, 13006145, 580th Aircraft Warning, APO 958, care Postmaster, San Francisco, California.


          2. General GRUNERT. Sergeant, in this particular investigation, General Frank will ask the questions, and the other Members of the Board will interject any questions they see fit; so just listen to what General Frank has to say ,and give him the answers to his questions.


          3. General FRANK. You are back here on furlough, Sergeant?

          Mr. McDonald. Yes, Sir.

          General FRANK. To what do you belong, now?

          Mr. McDonald. I still belong to 580th Aircraft Warning.


          4. General FRANK. To what did you belong in December 1941 ?

          Mr. McDonald. Well, I was still with the, 580th Aircraft [4153] Warning. It was just a company at the time and was just being organized. We just built up this information center about six months before, and we were assigned to certain jobs, and I happened to be communication man, switchboard operator.


          5. General FRANK. Were you on duty the morning of the attack, December 7?

          Mr. McDonald. Yes, sir.


          6. General FRANK. Where?

          Mr. McDonald. At the information center‑well, fighter control.


          7. General FRANK. Where was this information center at which you were on duty?

          Mr. McDonald. It was located in Fort Shafter, Hawaii.


          8. General FRANK. And it was the temporary information center that had been set up at that time and from which exercises had been held along back in October?

          Mr. McDonald. Yes, sir.


          9. General FRANK. You ran the private branch exchange switchboard?

          Mr. McDonald. Yes, sir.


          10. General FRANK. Do you have pretty clearly in your mind what happened on the morning of December 7?

          Mr. McDonald. Well, Sir, I have written it so many times I imagine I have it memorized.


          11. General FRANK. All right. Will you tell us about it?

          Mr. McDonald. Well, I was on duty. I went on duty at five o'clock the night before and I was on duty all night, up until 7:30 the morning of December 7; and at 7:20 I received a call from our unit on the north shore. I think [4154] the unit was 6‑QM.


          12. General FRANK. That was at Opana Point?

          Mr. McDonald. Yes, sir.


          13. General FRANK. Proceed.

          Mr. McDonald. I did not realize at the time that there was anybody in the building, so I wrote the message down, and when I turned around, the clock was right behind me in the next room, it was in the corner, and I turned around to time the message, and I saw Lieutenant Tyler, and he was sitting at the plotting table. He was supposed to go off duty at eight o'clock, and he was just sitting there. Everybody went home, and that was the first day we had off in over a month, and so the guys went home about seven o'clock. I mean the plotters. They worked all along for a month there. They were working from 4 o'clock in the morning all the way through to dusk, and December 7 was the first day they got off in the month.


          Well, when I received the call, wrote it down, and I brought it up to the lieutenant. I am not quite sure whether I read it to him, or handed it. I think I read it to him. Any way, the lieutenant looked at it afterwards, and I expressed that it was the first time I ever received anything like this. I said, "Do you think we ought to do anything about it?" So I wanted to call back the plotters. I mean they didn't have much practice there all along, and when this fellow called in he expressed it to be "an awful big flight."


          14. General FRANK. Tell us what the message was.

          Mr. McDonald. Says, "Large number of planes coming in from the north, three points east," and he really expressed; [4155] so after I told the lieutenant, he just, he didn't say nothing; so I went back to the telephone, and I talked to the man on the unit again.


          15. General FRANK. That is, you to talked to the man at Opana ?

          Mr. McDonald. Yes, sir. and he just repeated the message, and I went in and I told the lieutenant again. I said; "Sir, I would appreciate it very much if you would answer the phone"; and after he was finished with his conversation —


          16. General FRANK. He answered the telephone?

          Mr. McDonald. Yes, Sir. After he was finished with his conversation, I asked him, "What do you think it is?" He said, "It's nothing." We learned later he was expecting bombers in from the States. Well, we thought he knew.


          Sir, I don't mean to accuse this man, by an means. I am just trying to express it just the way I did, because I, when I wrote this message out, I wrote it up for a department signal, Hawaiian Department signal, and before I signed it, I brought it down and had him look it over.


          17. General FRANK. You had whom look it over?

          Mr. McDonald. This lieutenant, Lt. Tyler; because I felt that anything that I do say was against him.


          18. General FRANK. Did you make any comment to him as to whether you thought there might be something real about it?

          Mr. McDonald. Well, sir, I did. I said, "It's the first time I have ever received anything like this and. it looks kind of strange." I don't know the exact words I used; but anyway, I took this. I was relieved at 7:30, so I took this message with me. By the way, it was the first time I ever did that, but I wanted to show the fellows, up [4156] at the tent; so they all saw it and when the planes were coming over there, I began to get a little shaky, especially when everybody was saying it was Wheeler Field on maneuvers; but when they started coming down and diving all around, I just started running for the nearest pile.


          Anyway, after we realized, we went into the tent and turned on the radio. Everybody knew it was war, because the announcer was saying, "Oahu is under attack!" So I ran down to the information center, and I gave the message to Lieutenant White. That was my communication officer and commanding officer, and he brought it up to the controller, my controller.


          19. General FRANK. Who was the controller at that time?

          Mr. McDonald. I am not sure, sir, but I think it was a Major Bergquist.


          20. General FRANK. Had he reached the information center by this time?

          Mr. McDonald. Yes, sir.


          21. General FRANK. What time was this?

          Mr. McDonald. Well, it was only a couple of minutes after the attack, because he came from Wheeler Field, and he said he was strafed and everything coming down.


          22. General FRANK. Well, it would take more than a couple of minutes to come from Wheeler Field. That is 20 miles away.

          Mr. McDonald. Well, it must have been about a half an hour, by the time. It was about a half an hour; but anyway, he came down. He questioned me.


          23. General FRANK. So, as it really turned out, the man at the radar station at Opana Point probably had really picked up the attacking Japanese force on the oscilloscope, and this [4157] was his report of it; that is correct, isn't it?

          Mr. McDonald. Yes, sir.


          24. General FRANK. And the lieutenant, when you showed him the message, had assumed that it was these B‑17s coming in from the States, is that correct?

          Mr. McDonald. Yes, sir.


          25. General FRANK. As a matter of fact, this Lieutenant Tyler, who was in there, was in there for instruction, was he not?

          Mr. McDonald. I think he was, sir. I only saw him around there, I think that was about the second time I saw him. I knew he didn't understand, because he was—well, all those lieutenants just come down there, and they just learn by just looking at the men working.


          26. General FRANK. As a matter of fact, it really wasn't your assigned duty to call these things to their attention, but your assigned duty was ready just to man the switchboard?

          Mr. McDonald. I don't know, sir. Just commented. That's about what anybody would do.


          27. General FRANK. When the information center really got to working, there were other men assigned around, plotting on the boards, whose duty it was to do what you were doing at this time, is that correct?

          Mr. McDonald. No, sir. Well, I just got the thing. As soon as I got the information, I just brought it in to the lieutenant, and I just—well, I just expressed it, "I never had anything like this before."


          28. General FRANK. All right, Sergeant.


          29. General GRUNERT. Are there any questions


          Hope this helps,

          Elliot Schneider

          1 person found this helpful
          • Re: Looking for Pearl Harbor testimony of Private Joseph McDonald
            Jason Atkinson Ranger

            Dear Mr. Orfalea,


            Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!


            We searched the National Archives Catalog and located Files Relating to Hearings and Investigations, 1944 - 1945 of the Army Pearl Harbor Board and the Security Classified Correspondence Relating to the Investigation of Pearl Harbor, 1941 - 1946 in the Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (Record Group 165).  For more information about these records, please email National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) at Archives2reference@nara.gov.


            We also located Committee Papers, 1945 - 1946 and Exhibits, 11/15/1945 - 5/31/1946 of the Joint Committee on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack. For more information about these records, please email the Center for Legislative Archives (LL) at legislative.archives@nara.gov


            Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to guidance received from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NARA has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission-critical work while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of NARA staff. As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgement as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RDT2 and LL. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.


            We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your research!