Electrician's Mate 2nd Class
Service Branch: United States Navy
Combat Action: WWII - Pacific
Home Town: Omaha
Military Specialty: Electrician
Units: USS Whitney - Destroyer Tender, Pearl Harbor Naval Base, T.H.
- USS Banner - Attack Transport, Western Pacific
Decorations, Citations, and Awards: - American Campaign Ribbon, American Defense Ribbon, World War II Victory Ribbon, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Ribbon, Navy Occupation Service Ribbon, Navy Good Conduct Medal
Ed Guthrie had just come topside aboard the USS Whitney to start his Duty Watch at 0800. It was a typical Sunday morning – warm Hawaiian sunshine with a high layer of light, puffy, cumulus clouds – might rain later. Ed scanned the harbor and its complement of 50 warships. Except for the Aircraft Carriers, out on maneuvers, the entire fleet was at anchor. Off in the distance, he could see some planes – probably the Air Corps from Hickam Field lining up to drop more sandbags on the Utah, poor old lady.
Suddenly, the klaxon sounded GENERAL QUARTERS. Those were not sandbags. Sandbags don’t explode…and they were not hitting the Utah. They were hitting the battleships…and those planes were not the Air Corps. They were…Japanese! Japanese planes were attacking the Fleet in Pearl Harbor!
Five Destroyers were moored along Whitney's port side. As they were getting underway, a massive explosion rocked the harbor. USS Arizona had taken a direct hit down her stack into her forward ammunition magazine.
Ed was ordered into a motor launch to help rescue the wounded and recover the dead. It would be three days and nights before he would see his bunk again. Ed was in the motor launch in the harbor when the second wave of the attack began. Totall exposed and unarmed, Ed and the launch crew continued their rescue and recovery efforts with bombs falling and bullets strafing all around them. The worst part was the oil and diesel fuel leaking from sunken ships and creating a slick that coated the surface of the harbor. Everything, including wounded sailors and the bodies of the dead, was coated with that muck. It made the dead and wounded so much more difficult to spot, especially at night. Rescue and recovery were much harder because of it.
After Pearl Harbor, Ed was in the western Pacific aboard the Attack Transport, USS Banner (named for Banner County, Nebraska). While serving on the Banner, Ed witnessed the United States' first Atomic Bomb tests conducted at Bikini Atoll. Today, Ed Guthrie is one of Nebraska's last living survivors of the Attack on Pearl Habor.