Seventy-five years ago today, on what President Franklin D. Roosevelt would describe as a "day that will live in infamy," more than a hundred and fifty warplanes of the Japanese military attacked and decimated Battleship Row at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
Actually, in the interest of historical accuracy, the Japanese attacked military installations across the island of Oahu and the sprawling city of Honolulu - including Ford Island, Hickam Field, Wheeler Field, and several other targets. Additionally, scattered homes across the island were set ablaze by errant bombs.
The Fire Department of Honolulu was mobilized and became some of the first responders to the mayhem that ensued. Their job was complicated when a Japanese bomb took out the water main that supplied the hydrants on Hickam Field, thereby leaving those important hydrants inoperable. Firefighters turned to siphoning water from a bomb crater to use in fighting the fires. The Fire Department suffered nine casualties on that bloody and awful Sunday morning - six wounded and three dead.
The six wounded firemen were recognized three years later by the U.S. military when they were awarded the Order of the Purple Heart, the only time that award had been given to civilian firemen. It wasn't until forty-three years after the attack that the three firemen who died in the attack were also recognized in the same manner.
The three Honolulu firemen who died in the attack were Hoseman Harry Tuck Lee Pang who was killed by a machine gun burst from a Japanese fighter plane, Captain John Carreira (of Engine 1), and Captain Thomas S. Macy (of Engine 4). Carriera and Macy were fighting a blaze inside of a hangar at Hickam Field when a Japanese bomb came through the roof and killed them.
Captain Thomas Samuel Macy, a married father of at least one adult child, was fifty-nine at the time of his death. He had been born in Hawaii on January 13, 1883, to Samuel Archibald Macy, a native of Nantucket, and Elizabeth Kamiki Macy, of Hawaii. Samuel Macy was, in all probability, a whaler out of Nantucket who chose to stay in Hawaii and adopt it as his home.
Samuel and Thomas Macy, like this writer, were descendants of Thomas Macy, one of the original white purchasers of Nantucket Island in the 1630's.
On a balmy Sunday morning when Thomas Samuel Macy was undoubtedly thinking in terms of retirement, his world was suddenly upended as he grabbed his firefighting gear, hurried out of the house, and went to war. And like so many others who fought in that horrendous global conflict, he never came back.
Today we honor the selfless courage of all of those brave individuals who met the on-coming Japanese storm with grit, determination, and valor - the sailors, soldiers, airmen, firemen, and ordinary citizens of Hawaii. Seventy-five years ago today those unsuspecting and brave souls looked up from their breakfast tables and Sunday newspapers and saw war hurling into their quiet lives. The world would never be the same again.