Eighteen year old weldor and shipfitter, Frank Dolan, was aboard his repair ship, USS Vestal (AR-4), at Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 7, 1941. Vestal was tied up to the battleship Arizona, waiting to begin repairs to that ship the next morning. At the moment of Japan's surprise attack at 7:55 AM, Frank was on the Vestal's main deck studying for his upcoming ratings exam. He watched in horror as enemy planes dropped torpedoes and bombs.* Two bombs hit the Vestal, causing significant damage. The catastrophic explosion of the Arizona alongside also blew overboard all the crew from the Vestal's deck. The ship's captain, Cassin Young, swam back to his ship, and with his remaining crew, steered it to the nearest beach, but not before rescuing the Arizona's few survivors. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions that day. Frank helped bring the few surviving, but badly burned Sailors and Marines across the wooden camel connecting the 2 ships. Smaller boats then transported them to the hospital.
After repairing their own badly damaged ship, Vestal's crews went to work repairing the other stricken warships at Pearl Harbor. Frank stayed with Vestal as it sailed to forward repair bases such as Tongatabu, Nouméa, and Espiritu Santo. Many of the ships repaired by Vestal had received battle damage from engagements in the great Naval battles of the Pacific. Frank was also temporarily assigned to the aircraft carrier, Enterprise, and performed vital repairs even while the ship was hotly engaged in the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal in Novemvmber 1942.
Frank Dolan served on the Vestal through the end of 1943, when he was transfered to another repair ship, U.S.S. Hector (AR-7). While on the Hector, he served at Navy repair facilities at Eniwetok, Ulithi, Leyte Gulf, and Saipan.
Entering the Navy as a "boot" seaman in Feb. 1941, Frank Dolan had worked his way up to Chief Metalsmith when he was discharged after the war in late 1946.
* He wrote of his Pearl Harbor experience in Pearl Harbor As I Remember (https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/44428398/Pearl%20Harbor%20As%20I%20Remember.pdf).