No One Avoided Danger

No One Avoided Danger

NAS Kaneohe Bay and the Japanese Attack of 7 December 1941

J. Michael Wenger, Robert J. Cressman, and John F. Digrilio

Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland, 2015, 208 pages

Book Review published on: March 24, 2017

Readers are taken beyond the attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 to a different part of the island of Oahu, Hawaii in No One Avoided Danger. This book lays out the attacks on Kaneohe Bay, one of the two Naval Air Stations (NAS) on the island of Oahu. Military members will find of interest in how this book orchestrates isolated attacks in a storyboard setting. This book also describes how a strategic asset base was attacked only after having been in operation for six months and the loss of the aircraft delayed finding the Japanese fleet after the attack.

In 1941, Pearl Harbor’s Ford Island was overcrowded and the Navy was looking to expand its capability to other parts of Oahu. The land for what was to become Kaneohe NAS was purchased in August 1939 and the groundwork took place from September 1940 to February 1941. The base was commissioned and received its first commander on 15 February 1941—all in less than a month—the NAS was conducting its valuable mission of providing long-range maritime reconnaissance using its PBY squadrons (patrol bomber and “Y” for the company), and within ten months, it was attacked where the valuable aircraft were housed.

Shortly after Kaneohe was commissioned, the consolidated aircraft corporation plant in San Diego began delivering the late-model Catalina aircraft to serve a patrol aircraft all round the operational reach of the Pacific. The squadron of PBY-5s took twenty-four hours to fly from San Diego to Hawaii.

Filled with several personal stories of the crews of both the United States and Japanese, the book is filled with photographs of the personnel from both as well as terrain analysis of Kaneohe and the island of Oahu.

This book takes the battle of Pearl Harbor away from Pearl Harbor to describe the stories of the men and their families who were attacked while based on the fledgling base. In addition, it confirms the insight the local residents as well as most of the base on Kaneohe NAS thought that they were being attacked or part of “war-game” from the U.S. Army Air corps. One Congressional Medal of Honor winner was awarded during this battle. The burning aircraft that littered bases were caught completely unaware that an attack was taking place.

The Japanese attack was one conducted with surprising accuracy that left a lasting effect on Kaneohe NAS for the rest of the war. Inside the resilience of a small unit of personnel shines through. History often forgets this of unknown part of the attack on Pearl Harbor, but now it is better remembered. One recommendation I would have for future editions is that the book could in many ways provide a single page devoted to attack, counter attack, and response that would assist a reader in following the details of the day and with summarized the multifaceted events that took place on Kaneohe NAS in 1941.

Book Review written by: Lt. Col. Andrew Warninghoff, U.S. Army, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas