The Young Heroes of Pearl Harbor

June 20, 2017

The heroes of Pearl Harbor included more than just the sailors aboard the vessels that took the brunt of the attack, or the servicemen who scrambled to fight back with little more than their rifles. They weren’t just the local nurses who dropped everything to assist the injured or the volunteers who assisted with the clean-up effort in Pearl Harbor and throughout Oahu.

There’s a group that many may not have realized played a big part in the hours following the Japanese surprise attack. In the months leading up to the attack on December 7th, 1941, the Boy Scouts of the Honolulu Council spent their time together learning first aid skills and fine-tuning their ability to work together in an emergency situation.

While the scenarios they likely planned for were hypothetical at the time, on that quiet Sunday morning in December, their preparation was put to the real test.

The Boys—and Girls—of the Pearl Harbor Rescue

While men and women rushed in and out of the waters of the harbor, pulling wounded sailors to safety, the scouts of Honolulu were aiding in different ways. Though their training for a real emergency scenario was short for what they would soon have to go through, there seemed to be no hesitation to assist in the roles of communication and first aid.

The primary duty of most scouts over the age of 15 was to assist in communications between different outposts. Via foot or bicycle, working in six-hour shifts, these swift volunteers carried important messages and kept an eye on scattered signal points to relay visual communications.

Honolulu Boy Scouts preparing medical supplies

Scouts not assisting in the delivery of messages and answering phones were assigned first aid duty. Witnessing the worst of the attack, the older scouts who could help carry the wounded would man stretchers and aid in patient transport. With over 1,000 wounded in the Japanese attack, any assistance that could be provided was welcomed.

A large number of scouts and their leaders assisted in the efforts at Pearl Harbor, including local Girl Scout troops. From ferrying bandages and medical supplies to blacking out windows at government buildings to manning air raid sirens, the scouts were as intertwined in the events of Pearl Harbor as many of the military personnel were.

After the Attack

Though the war was fought by military forces, many people back home were preparing for the worst. Among them were the scouts, not just in Honolulu but all over the nation. Leaders were instructed to prepare their groups with essential survival skills including first aid, cooking, effective communication, keen observation, and use of important tools like fire-axes and hatchets.

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