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the passing of a hero
At exactly 7:55 on a beautiful Sunday morning the United States was suddenly
plunged into the greatest conflict in the history of the world. We were not
only unprepared for war, but our armed forces in. the Pacific were caught
completely by surprise.
That same Sunday morning two young Army Air Corps lieutenants were just
leaving an all-night party at Wheeler Field, Hawaii. They were George Welch
and Ken Taylor of the 15th Pursuit Group. As they stood outside an army
barracks watching the tropical dawn grow brighter, neither had any idea of
the momentous event which was about to change their - lives. It was December
7, 1941. Welch was saying that instead of going to sleep, he wanted to drive
back to their own base at nearby Haleiwa Field for a nice Sunday morning
At that moment, just ten miles south of Lieutenants Welch and Taylor,
carrier-based dive bombers, torpedo planes and fighters of the Imperial
Japanese Navy were beginning their carefully planned sneak attack on the
great American naval base at Pearl Harbor, as well as its surrounding
airfields. Most of our powerful Pacific Fleet was in training, and there
were ninety-six United States warships anchored in and about this Pacific
stronghold. War had been expected by our military leaders, but the general
opinion was that the Japanese would open hostilities against the Dutch or
British possessions in Asia thousands of miles farther west.
As Welch and Taylor walked to their car to head back to their own base, they
saw sixty-two new Curtiss P-40 "Tomahawks" parked wing tip to wing tip so
they could be guarded "against sabotage."
Suddenly the Japanese swooped down on Wheeler Field, which was a center for
fighter operations in Hawaii. Dive bombers seemed to appear out of nowhere.
Violent explosions upended the parked planes, and buildings began to burn.
Welch ran for a telephone and called Haleiwa as bullets sprayed around him.
"Get two P-40s ready!" he yelled. "It's not a gag--the Japs are here."
taylor pssed away on november 23rd 2006 he was 86
taylor on the left, welch on the right,\ welch and taylor were both credited
with 4 kills each that day.
welch went on to score 9 more flying a lighting, welch died in 1954 while
testpiloting the F-100
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