Today is Pearl Harbor Day here in the U.S., the anniversary of the day Japan executed a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii in 1941, killing and wounding thousands, and ushering the U.S. into World War II.
I can imagine that day must have felt a lot like 9/11 to the people of the US, though news surely travelled much more slowly in 1941 than it did 60 years later in 2001. Most Americans surely learned about it in the daily newspaper.
While I had no family members directly affected that day, the course of events led to both my Grandfather and my Great Uncle serving in that great war. I think of my poor grandmother who had both a brother and a husband serving in the war. My grandfather returned home after the war (thankfully, as I would not otherwise exist), but my grandmother's brother did not.
Corporal Arnold Gene McIlwraith was an Engineer gunner on a B-24. He was on flight from Mather Field in Sacramento, CA to John Ridgers Field in Hawaii on Feb 28, 1945 when his plane went missing somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.
I discovered this image recently in the Missing Air Craft Reports (MACR), available in the National Archives, and indexed on Fold3.com.
What's odd to me is that by my reckoning, the coordinates on the report put their airplane well beyond Hawaii, close to Japan.
Did routine B-24 flights from CA to HI have them going via Japan? I don't even think their plane's final point was in range from California. I guess we'll never know.