George William Blake

George William Blake

World War II · US Army · Staff Sergeant
World War II (1939 - 1945)
Service Number

698-17-51

Branch

Army

Service Start Date

5 Mar 1940

Conflict Period

World War II

Battles

Central Pacific GO 33 WD 45 as amended with star

Rank

Staff Sergeant

Service End Date

15 Jul 1945

Served For

United States of America

Added by: Fold3_Team
Gold Star

No

Stories about George William Blake

By Zachary Matson at Today's News-Herald (Lake Havasu, AZ) - "Pearl Harbor survivor, Havasu resident recalls day of infamy" - 6 Dec 2014

    When George Blake woke up on Dec. 7, 1941, it was a regular Sunday morning. He slept in an extra hour before heading over to the mess for breakfast. After breakfast he went to the gym, where he scrimmaged against the local basketball team. Between passes and shots, Blake heard loud screeching noises from outside, like a plane “landing on a corrugated metal roof.” “It was machine gun fire,” he said. “I came out and the air was full of planes.” It was about five minutes before 8 a.m. and Pearl Harbor was under attack by Japanese fighter planes and submarines. They came in two waves, hundreds of planes swooping down from the sky, bombing the American Pacific Fleet and strafing the soldiers and sailors on the ground. Blake, of Brooklyn, N.Y., joined the Army in March 1940 as a 19-year-old. He said he had a job with no future, and he was “somewhat compulsive and adventuresome.” He wanted to go to the Philippines, the furthest and most foreign of the options, but the transport was already full and gone. Soon he was on a transport ship headed for Hawaii from New York — a 28-day voyage, cutting from east to west through the Panama Canal. “It was all exciting to a kid,” he said. By May, Blake was stationed at Pearl Harbor, training with his Army battalion in harbor defense. He and crews of around 10 men manned eight-inch railway guns at fort installations along the edges of the harbor. At the time, Blake said, the training was aimed at protecting the fleet against an large sea invasion – guns pointed seaward not skyward. For month after month, Blake and his fellow soldiers went through the daily motions of constant preparations. Drills. Guard duty. Equipment checks. Rest and repeat. “During peace time it was a pretty nice life,” Blake said. ‘It can’t be an attack’ Once the reality of the attack settled over Blake, his training kicked in. The sirens cut off before they could belt out instructions – a power line was cut by one of the attacking bombers. “My first though is it’s just a drill, a realistic drill,” he said. “It can’t be an attack; your mind doesn’t want to accept it.” Blake ran into the barracks where a sergeant ordered him to grab small arms and make his way to the gun park. As he made his way a half-mile across the base, he took cover beneath palms and fired his rifle at the Japanese fighters, taking cover beneath palms and firing his rifle at the Japanese fighters as they swooped down to roof-level. After making his way to the gun station, Blake was given charge of a .30 caliber machine gun. While the gun was meant for the water’s edge, he tilted it to the sky and fired at the attacking planes. “I didn’t hit anything.” From where he was stationed, Blake could see billowing clouds of black smoke from across the harbor. At the time, he thought the smoke came from the oil field, but in hindsight he thinks it probably came from the smoldering USS Arizona. Blake said a crew of four men from his outfit was stationing a machine gun atop the roof of an ordinance building when a Japanese plane in a spiral crashed into them. Those were the four deaths his outfit suffered. “I don’t like the word only.” In total, more than 2,000 men lost their lives on that day that “will live in infamy.” Many more were injured and within days the United States was headlong into World War II. And then it was over. The waves of attacks stopped coming and the base waited for what was to come next. “We did what we were trained to do to the best of our ability,” he said. “It didn’t last very long… it seemed long at the time.” Blake said they expected the aerial attack to be followed with an invasion, and so he manned a machine gun on the shores of the entrance to the harbor for 24 straight hours. And for the next few months, he lived in a sand cave dug into the steep, sloping beach, positioned with a machine gun, two other soldiers and Army cots, waiting for an attack. “We worked and guarded 24 hours a day, it was right through Christmas because we worked Christmas day. New Years was the first day of a break,” Blake said. “Of course the attack never came.” He left Pearl Harbor in 1943, the first time off the base in three and a half years. He taught radar at a military base in the mainland and stayed in the Army until the war was over. Blake said he stayed in touch with other Pearl Harbor survivors throughout the years, unexpectedly running into a group of old friends at a 50-year reunion. He lives in Salida, Colo. seven months and in his motor home at Havasu Falls RV Park for five months. There used to be other Pearl Harbor survivors that he visited with in Havasu, but now he makes sure to meet with a group of widows when in town. He said telling his story is a way to keep the memories of those lost alive. “The first thing that comes to mind is they were kids,” he said after recounting his story. “And that bothers me, it upsets me.”

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