December 7, 1941 — Pearl Harbor Oahu, Hawaii
Paul Decker had only been assigned to the USS California for 10 months when she was hit by bombs and torpedos during the Japanese attack on the U S Navy Fleet on December 7, 1941 at Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii. After being told to abandon ship, he and many more men jumped overboard to swim for the docks. Flaming oil covered the water and the men had to swim underwater to avoid the flames and fumes. He and other men were picked up by another ship and taken out of the harbor.
Paul's brother, Alvin Decker, was too young to join the Navy, but he had followed his beloved brother Paul and was working as a shipfitter at Pearl Harbor. He escaped death by jumping behind steel plate to be used to repair the ships. He then helped the nearest ship by handing ammunition to a sailor who was trying to fire on the Japanese planes. After the attack, Alvin began looking for his brother in the confusion. Thinking the worst, he raised sheet after sheet covering the bodies of the many sailors who had been killed. He couldn't stand it anymore and gave up. It was weeks later before everything was sorted out and he found that Paul had survived and had been transferred to the USS Portland. Before this, however, telegrams were sent to the family showing Paul was "Missing in Action".
Alvin joined the Navy as soon as he was old enough. He and Paul served all across the Pacific and were in many famous battles. They never served together on the same ship.