Culture Magazine

Radiomans Message Endures

By Sfalcont

Edward Joseph Chlapowski (June 5, 1922 – Jan. 16, 2011)

Radiomans Message Endures
Chlapowski, who died Sunday in Montana at age 88, was the person who told the world of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

According to the Billings Gazette, Chlapowski, who was a Navy radioman on Adm. Husband Kimmel’s staff at Pearl Harbor, was in his barracks on the morning of December 7 when he looked out the window and saw a hangar at nearby Hickam Field explode.

“I turned to see the planes coming in and saw the ‘meatballs’ on the side,” he said, referring to the red Japanese military insignia on the planes, according to the Gazette report. “The hair on the back of my neck stood up, just as it still does today when I think of it,” he said.

Chlapowski said he hurried to his post in the communications room on base. There a supervisor handed him a message, which he transmitted in Morse code: “This is no drill – Pearl Harbor is being bombed by the Japanese – this is no drill.”

Chlapowski was a member of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association and the person assigned to present plaques to members’ families when a fellow survivor died. Of the 84,000 U.S. military personnel on Oahu that day, only a couple of thousand are thought to be living now, the Gazette reported.

Read his obituary here.

Hear one of the radio broadcasts notifying the US about the attack on Pearl Harbor Dec 7, 1941:

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