December 7, 2016 marked the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, a day that will live in history forever.
Gail Moul knows all too well, from firsthand experience, the devastation suffered on that day. Moul was six years old in 1941 and remembers that day and the ones following as if it were yesterday.
The 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor has meaning for all Americans, but for someone who not only witnessed it but survived it along with his family, it is even more meaningful.
When talking to Moul, the first thing he said was, “We have to change the place from where I was. It was Hickam Field. My father was in the Air Force. The cyclone separates the Army from the Navy but we were in Hickham Field.”
Moul recalls, “I was, like I said, six years old and I had just started the first grade. It was about 7:55 a.m. and my father was outdoors looking towards Pearl Harbor. And he noticed a lot of smoke rising, he saw some airplanes and when the airplanes turned to the left there was a big red sun on the left wing. The Japanese signal is a red sun and he cried out, “It’s the Japs.” And they started, everybody started running. Everybody of course came outside and these planes were shooting down the people on the ground that were running and I saw it all at six years old. My mother and I were there, and the telephone rang. My daddy was called to his place of employment which was a hanger. He told us goodbye and we wouldn’t see him again December 21. A lady friend came over and she stayed with my mother and I. All of this time gun fire was on our roof and came in on our bedroom window. Later, my father collected pieces of shrapnel off the floor where pieces of bullets came in the windows.”
Moul continued, “There were young soldiers surrounding the house and my mother kept asking was there a way out. I’m estimating about 10:30 one of the men said there was a car coming through. There was a paved street behind each house. There was a garbage truck and they said this car was coming along the street and if we wanted to run we could. We were still in our pajamas and we started getting dressed and we looked out the window and saw a bomb fall and explode. I remember I screamed so loud I dislocated a nerve in my neck. From that time on, I stuttered till I was 21 years old. The Catholic lady and my mother one grabbed on one hand and the other grabbed the other hand and we made it to the car safely. I was thrown in the back east and there was dogs, cats, children, everyone. There was a man driving and there was a lot of mothers and children, I mean it was a packed car. We went up to a place like if you’ve ever seen Hawaii Five-0, we went up into the mountains of Honolulu. It was a large, a very large house and when we got there, there were no men, just ladies and children and we stayed there. Our clothes were wash and wear, you washed them at night and you hung them up and you wore them the next day. Around about the 14th a week later, a naval man came to the house and he collected notes from all of the women. He went to Hickam Field and somehow located my father. He gave my father my mother’s message and then my father wrote a message and wrote one to us. That’s how we found out that that he was still alive and he found out that we were still alive. On the 21st, we went back to our house and it was still standing. We got to meet my daddy and on Christmas Day, the phone range at one o’clock. They said we will be by to pick you up and carry you to the boat. My father had made arrangements for us to leave and we didn’t know about it. We left there on Christmas Day and sailed to San Francisco. We landed in San Francisco and my father stayed and went down to battle of Guadalcanal. My mother and I flew to Langley Field in Virginia. Then my father came home in May of 1943 and then we moved to Columbia, South Carolina. I continued to study and I took piano and speech. I enjoyed acting and when I was 16, I was saved and baptized. I felt God calling me to preach and I’ve been preaching at White Water Methodist Church 23 years. I told God, ‘If you give me the voice, I will preach.’ My sister was born in 1945 so she’s ten years younger.’
It was an honor to hear Mr. Moul recount the events of December 7, 1941 and the days and months that followed. He is a true survivor.