Generic Radio Workshop Script Library (BACK)

Series: Miscellaneous Single Episodes
Show: Navy Yard Broadcast: Pearl Harbor
Date: Mar 18 1942

NAVY YARD BROADCAST
KGU to NBC
1100-1115 - Wednesday, March 18, 1942


WAHL:

Remember Pearl Harbor? This broadcast comes to you from the pulsating heart of that gigantic mid-Pacific naval base, 2200 miles west and south of San Francisco. Until three months ago, Pearl Harbor was just a name! Today it is a legend....the place where our war began. Here are all the complex activities that comprise a naval base.

And there are men - thousands of them - civilian workers - who ready the ships for new jobs at sea when they come in from scouring the seventy million square miles of this Pacific battle front. For every man at sea there must be many ashore - just as every plane in the air needs ground crews to service it.

Today we are speaking to you from one of Pearl Harbor's biggest servicing centers - from the edge of one of the great drydocks. Listen a minute to the sound and the fury of Pearl Harbor at work!

SOUND:

UP AND HOLD FIVE TO TEN SECONDS

WAHL:

This is Jim Wahl, speaking for KGU and the National Broadcasting Company. Today we're going to try and give you a brief picture of some of the men at Pearl Harbor and of the jobs they do. We're fortunate in having as our guide Captain Charles D. Swain, production officer of this Navy Yard. Captain, I'm a Grade A landlubber myself and so are most of our listeners - so I'd like to ask you to tell us, if you will....what's the real strategic importance of this base to our country?

SWAIN:

I'm no authority on this, Jim. I'm not much of an historian but everyone knows what Pearl Harbor is. As far back as 1873, it was reported to Washington that the only harbor in Hawaii which could serve in time of war was a place on the Pearl River, about 10 miles west of Honolulu. It was recommended that the site be acquired for location of a naval depot of supplies and equipment in this part of the Pacific.

WAHL:

Did Washington accept this suggestion?

SWAIN:

Yes, but we weren't the only ones who had seen the advantage of Pearl Harbor. The Japanese, among others, had already surveyed it, recognizing it as the key to all trans-Pacific routes.

WAHL:

Jap competition even that far back, eh?

SWAIN:

Yes, but that time we beat them to the punch....persuaded the Hawaiian monarchy to cede Pearl Harbor to us! Since then it has been built into a big place as you can see for yourself. There are about a thousand acres to the reservation now.

WAHL:

Well, since we can't cover all thousand acres, I'll compromise for interviews with a few of your men. Fair enough?

SWAIN:

Absolutely! Here comes a fellow now who's typical of the men in this yard. In the last war he served on one of our submarines, and he's been working with submarines ever since.

WAHL:

I'd like to meet him.

SWAIN:

He came here not long ago from the Portsmouth Navy Yard in New Hampshire. Name's Albert Briskay. Oh, Briskay, step over here a minute, will you?

BRISKAY:

Glad to know you.

WAHL:

It's mutual. By the way, what's your job here at Pearl Harbor?

BRISKAY:

Why, I hold the rating of a quarterman machinist specializing in submarine work.

WAHL:

I see....and your age, I'd guess, is about -- 43?

BRISKAY:

Thanks, but 48 would be closer.

WAHL:

Since you know this submarine business fore and aft, how would you compare the submarines of this war with those of the last world war?

BRISKAY:

Well, they're bigger - specially here in this Pacific where distances are greater. Naturally they're going more modern, but essentially their job is the same -- and that's to sink more tonnage than the other fellow.

WAHL:

Alright, here's another one I'd like to put to you. How about comparing our subs and submarines, with those of Japan and Germany.

BRISKAY:

That's not easy! Submariners are generally the pick of any Navy. There are no flies on the Jap sub crews, but I think our subs are better and our men are better trained.

WAHL:

Sub warfare in the Pacific to date bears you out on that, Mr. Briskay. By the way, are you a married man?

BRISKAY:

Yes. My wife and two children, a girl 20 and a boy 15, live in Portsmouth.

WAHL:

I'll bet that boy of yours can hardly wait to follow his dad's footsteps into the Navy.

BRISKAY:

No, I don't think so.

WAHL:

Wait a minute now. Why not?

BRISKAY:

Well, Jack's quite a horseman, and there aren't any horses in the Navy.

WAHL:

I get it. (laughing)

BRISKAY:

Say, I'd like to ask you a question.

WAHL:

Alright....shoot. But make it easy.

BRISKAY:

Could you tell me how Pearl Harbor got it's name? I've been wondering about it for a long time.

WAHL:

It's a good question. Well, Mr. Briskay, I've been told that the old Hawaiians sometimes found Pearls here in oysters. They say that more than a hundred years ago, in the days of Hawaii's great conquerer, Kamehameha, many native divers worked Pearl Harbor regularly for Pearls. In fact, legend says a famed Hawaiian chief cut out the first channel from the sea some 27 generations ago to get at the loot.

SWAIN:

And just before the last war, Jim, the harbor was dredged and the channel deepened again. The first warship entered the harbor only three years before World War One began. It was quite an occasion. The last Queen of Hawaii...Lilluikalani, was among the honored guests to welcome the ship.

WAHL:

That's something I didn't know, Captain, and I've lived here a long time. Well, Mr. Briskay, time's flying and we want to meet some of your fellow workers. Meantime, we certainly hope your family heard your voice today from out here in Pearl Harbor.

BRISKAY:

Thank you. I hope so, too.

SWAIN:

Jim, I might say, just in case Briskay's wife IS listening -- her husband is one of the top men we have here in the general overhaul and maintenance work.

WAHL:

Mrs. Briskay, take note.

SWAIN:

Now, if you're looking for a real old timer, I've got a man here who really fills the bill. Meet Mr. William D. Graves.

WAHL:

Mr. Graves, it's a pleasure. How old are you, sir?

GRAVES:

I'm 56 years young.

WAHL:

And I like the way you put it! So you're an old timer -- a kamaaina as we say out here.

GRAVES:

Yes, my wife and I came to Hawaii from Norfolk, Virginia, in 1921....and we expect to be here long after the Japs have been licked!

WAHL:

You're going to have a lot of company, Mr. Graves. Just what is your set-up in this gigantic war base?

GRAVES:

I'm in charge of all machinery, and supervise the repair, installation and manufacture of machine parts.

WAHL:

I think it will interest our listeners to now that most people who have been in the islands over a period of years wear feather leis on hatbands. Do you, Mr. Graves?

GRAVES:

No, and I don't wear my shirt-tail outside either.

WAHL:

(laughing) They say Bing Crosby fell for this custom when he vacationed here about a week, and hasn't stuck his shirt-tail in yet.

GRAVES:

With his money (CLEARS THROAT) and his voice, I guess he can wear it any way he wants to.

WAHL:

Speaking of Crosby and the lighter side of life, what do you do to amuse yourself when you're off the job? Any hobbies?

GRAVES:

No time for hobbies these days -- unless you count a little light reading.

WAHL:

Light reading, eh? Ever read Mein Kampf?

GRAVES:

No, and I wouldn't believe it if I did!

WAHL:

That's the spirit....and, our thanks to you, Mr. Graves, for taking time out from your job here at Pearl Harbor for a few words over the air.

You know, Captain Swain, I was just thinking, in the days of King Kamehameha, the harbor here must have been surrounded by tropical jungle and rolling fields of sugar cane. This world-famous drydock, for instance, the site of our broadcast, is a far cry from Hawaii of half a century ago!

SWAIN:

As a matter of fact, Jim, this isn't the original drydock. The first one started in 1909. The floor under the graving dock was of volcanic rock and coral, and after four years of hard work and plenty of sweat in building it, it collapsed before it was used. That was really the first Pearl Harbor tragedy. Francis Smith -- "Drydock" Smith they called him -- was the engineer in charge...one of the best in the country. The dock and cofferdam were built, the water pumped out, and the bottom deepened. But, the bottom wasn't stapled [illegible word] [would rise or fall, depending on how much water was pumped]. So, they drove concrete piling into the bottom of the harbor. Everything appeared alright, but suddenly one day the crib timbers cracked, the concrete blocks on the bottom were forced up and the cofferdam, built to hold back the sea, collapsed.

WAHL:

Yes, and the old Hawaiians said it was all because the drydock was built on the site of the temple of the great and powerful Shark Gods. Any Hawaiian will tell you that the Shark Gods [Kaahupahau and Kahi Uka] simply avenged themselves for the desecration of their temple.

SWAIN:

I can understand that belief, and, of course, nobody wanted to hurt the Shark Gods' feelings, but we had to get a drydock built. So it was started again. This one you see here was finished in 1919, after ten years of struggle. It cost 20 billion dollars...(chuckle) and incidentally the work of rebuilding was attended with a suitable prayer and sacrifice to Kahi Uka.

WAHL:

And if I remember my Hawaiian history correctly, Josephus Daniels, then Secretary of the Navy, dedicated it. He said then that its usefulness would multiply as time went on.

SWAIN:

Yes, at the time of its construction it was called the greatest engineering achievement in the world next to the Panama Canal.

WAHL:

You know, I've been in Hawaii for ten years, but this is the first glimpse I've had of this drydock.

SWAIN:

Then just take a look around you and tell your listeners what you see!

WAHL:

I see more than there's time to tell. Shops to one side of me, thundering and clanging. I see the harbor bustling with activity. I hear the hum of great motors operating a crane overhead, the jangle of a yard engine's bell, the roar of great trucks. I see tugs scurrying around the harbor -- a fighting ship claimed sunk by the Japs, now ready to take her place in the battle line. Here below me I see this dock, just pumped out after finishing one job, being readied for the next customer, men swarming about like ants down below. And whichever way I turn my ears are filled with the strident voice of Pearl Harbor at work.

SWAIN:

A mighty good word picture, Jim....and speaking of voices, here's one with a touch of the old sod in it. Meet one of the newest additions to our army of workers -- Terry Milsop, who was born in Belfast, Ireland.

WAHL:

Got a little Irish blood in me, myself. Happy to meet you, Mr. Milsop. When did you come over to this country?

MILSOP:

You mean to Hawaii?

WAHL:

Well, yes....but I meant the United States mainland.

MILSOP:

I settled in Paterson, New Jersey, in 1897 and came to Hawaii last month. Was transferred here from the New York Navy Yard, Brooklyn. My family, my wife and three children, are still in Paterson.

WAHL:

You have three children, eh?

MILSOP:

Yes, two boys -- one 35, practicing law, and another 28, who's a commercial artist. My only daughter is a secretary in the Wright Aeronautical Plant. She's 24.

WAHL:

Mr. Milsop, one of the stock questions in these parts is "What was your first impression of the Islands?"

MILSOP:

Are you asking me?

WAHL:

Sure, would you care to tell us. You give us the truth, and we'll take the consequences.

MILSOP:

Well, now, I marveled most at the even climate. I like this balmy weather. And everything seems to be so colorful here. When I left New York, it was plenty cold. Freezing, in fact.

WAHL:

Mr. Milsop, right here I'd like to ask you just what your reaction has been to our nightly blackouts and gasoline rationing?

MILSOP:

Well, I guess it would spoil Hawaii for a tourist, but after all, we didn't just come here for the ride.

WAHL:

Do you live in Honolulu, or out here at Pearl Harbor?

MILSOP:

I live in town at the Elk's Club.

WAHL:

With tires on their way out and the gas situation as it is, how do you get to and from your work?

MILSOP:

That's simple. I take a bus.

WAHL:

If you were allowed to send a message back to your family in Paterson, New Jersey, through this microphone, what would you say?

MILSOP:

Well, I know you can't send personal greetings on the radio, but if I could I'd tell my gang that the old man is doing his best to live up to the standards of the men who were here on December seventh. After hearing about the guts these men showed under fire, I'm here to admit that the Irish aren't the only ones in the world who love a fight.

WAHL:

Well, speaking of the Irish, Mr. Milsop, when do you think the old country will get in this war?

MILSOP:

The old Country? Say, my part of the old country IS in. I come from Ulster. And they're in plenty.

WAHL:

That's the spirit! We're all in it together. Goodbye, Tom Milsop, and good luck to you.

And now I think it's about time we folded up our microphone. We're in the way of busy people. Captain Swain, thanks for your hospitality. We've had a thrill being out here with you today.

In closing, may I express our thanks to Admiral Bloch, Commandant of the Fourteenth Naval District, and to Admiral Furlong, Commandant of the Yard, for their generous help and cooperation. That goes, too, for everyone else out here who has been so cooperative, the Navy's telephone men and the boys who have taken part in our interviews. We hope we have been able to give some small impression of this place, the spirit it reflects and the significance of this Navy Yard to the future and safety of everyone listening on the Mainland. I wish that we might give more detail of the astounding job that has been done in putting back into commission the ships which our enemy claimed as lost. Someday the story will be told. For the present our interest in security makes us substitute discretion for our natural instinct for news and showmanship. But be sure of this -- the job is being done and done well. I'm here to tell you that not only you but the enemy will have cause before long to "Remember Pearl Harbor". This is Jim Wahl, speaking from Hawaii -- returning you now to the National Broadcasting Company.