Seeing Pearl Harbor day from the Phillippines

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By Jay Miller

SANTA FE — On Pearl Harbor Day, Dec. 7, 1941 New Mexico’s National Guard troops deployed to the Philippines knew the Japanese would attack them the same day.

They had been watching reconnaissance planes fly over every day, but had orders not to fire. Our reconnaissance planes saw the huge buildup on Formosa. Japan had captured everything to the north, including China. The Philippines were the last major obstacle on the way to Australia.

Our men just didn’t know when the attack was coming. When Pearl Harbor was attacked, it was about 4 a.m., on Dec. 8 in the Philippines, on the other side of the International Date Line. The attack on the Philippines was planned for 8 a.m., but clouds over Formosa delayed it until noon.

That gave eight hours advance notice. During that time, rumors of the attack spread among various units of our troops, but they received no orders to mobilize. Some of the delay was attributed to sabotage.

Clark Field was a prime target of the air attack. Tommy Foy, later a New Mexico state legislator, was unable to get through to Clark Field from his post. Neither could anyone else. The warning never got through. The planes and trucks, lined up with military precision-made perfect targets for strafing runs.

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