August 17, 1998
Credit due sailor who fired first shot
by Oscar Roloff
I've waited years for acknowledgment and appreciation to go to the sailor who fired the first shot at the attacking Japanese aircraft at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Disgusted with no Navy action, I've asked the Pearl Harbor Survivor's Association to put pressure on them.
I'm asking Ken Browne, a member, to either seek funds for a movie or to ask the Navy to place a statue at the Wall in Washington D.C.
The movie industry should reproduce the scene that took place on the destroyer USS Tucker DD374 when gunner's mate Walter Bowe was the first to open fire on the attacking aircraft even though he had no official order to do so.
The scene took place on the aft deck of the ship. He and I were there to note the aircraft overhead. They had red-painted rings on their wings. He knew they were there to attack us and yanked off the canvas cover of his 50-caliber machine gun.
He yelled to me, "Slam a drum of ammo into the gun's breech." This I did and immediately Bowe opened fire on the now lower and closer enemy craft. It was seconds later that other gunners opened fire.
There should be a warship in moth balls which would resemble the Tucker and she could be rigged for the attacking scene.
If not, a wooden mock up could be utilized.
Ken Browne was aboard and saw the whole scene. He should be asked to work on the scenes.
Then, at the Wall in Washington D.C. there should be a statue showing a sailor leaning over a 50-caliber machine gun and firing at aircraft overhead.
I do not care to credit myself for loading the gun. At that time, I had to obey Bowe because he was my boss at the scene. An order is an order. Yet he fired without official permission. In times like that permission has to take a back seat. Bowe should receive due credit.
As for the 50-caliber gun, I knew little about it. A few months earlier I had been a dumb farm kid milking cows and slopping hogs.