Pearl Harbor Day, and My Own Great Uncle Lost at Sea in WWII

by Scott_J - 7 years, 7 months ago | Edit | View on FTC

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

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.

5 comment(s), latest 7 years, 4 months ago

Comments & Reactions

I have several family members who served in WWII and other wars and it is on my heart to commemorate them as I am able with the genealogy research. This post is definitely thought provoking.

Wow, Scott, thanks for sharing this. Your poor grandmother and her family must have been devastated.

I wish I had thought to ask my paternal grandmother (the only grandparent who lived past my early childhood and thus the only one who I knew fairly well) about her memories. Though there are no relatives of mine who were at Pearl Harbor, grandma's brother was stationed in the Pacific during WWII.

Leave a tribute, a story or photograph about any of the servicemen killed during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Our family was fortunate we had 6 of our family serving in WW11 and they all came home safely!
war pictures of same and first hand info are a reality check to me and many others!
may we walk in the light we have been given. thanks for info.

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