Heroes of the Harbor: Robert R. Scott

February 09, 2017

It was a calm Sunday morning in December; an ordinary day that didn’t seem to be of any significance. Men like Robert R. Scott were enjoying the quiet of the morning, some engaging in various activities to pass the time, others having breakfast with their shipmates. But in the distance a storm was brewing, an event that would alter the course of history for the United States and the world.

Aboard the USS California, Scott was going about his business as the Machinist’s Mate First Class when the first blasts of the Japanese raid rang out across the base.

The Attack

At the age of 26, Robert Raymond Scott went down in history as an American hero, having served aboard the California when the Japanese fighters bombed Battleship Row. Like many of the soldiers that morning, Scott didn’t waiver in his duty as a sailor of the United States Navy. Even as chaos erupted around him, as battleships nearby were struck time and time again by incoming enemy fire, as his own vessel took multiple hits, he remained dedicated to the cause he'd signed up for: to protect his country and fight alongside his Navy brothers.

Taking to the Skies

It was this dedication to service that cost Robert Scott his life,

During the incoming fire, the California took a direct torpedo hit, which caused flooding in the compartment where Scott was stationed. It was his duty to attend to the air compressor, to ensure the California received the air it needed for a variety of functions. While the rest of the crew stationed along with him evacuated, the determined sailor stayed behind.

“This is my station and I will stay and give them air as long as the guns are going,” Scott exclaimed to those who implored him to evacuate. Knowing the danger this decision posed to his life, he stayed behind, and that was the last time Robert R. Scott would be seen.

After the Attack

When it comes to the stories of servicemen lost during the Pearl Harbor attack, their story doesn’t end on December 7th, 1941. In fact, that's when their story begins, serving as the launching point when it’s recounted over the decades.

USS Nevada Deck explosion

Though he was lost aboard the California, Robert R. Scott would go on to be honored by the US Navy and a grateful country, and he was posthumously decorated with the Medal of Honor. It may seem like a small consolation to those closest to Scott, but it’s a powerful symbol that the brave sailor’s death was not in vain.

Exploring Pearl Harbor

Stories like that of Robert Scott are precisely why the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument was erected at Pearl Harbor, Oahu. Thousands of heroes were made that day and each deserves a spot dedicated to their actions and to the unforgettable bravery of men like Machinist's Mate First Class Robert Raymond Scott.

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