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"I thought it was the end of the world…"(Video interview, 9:46)

   Robert Abbott Coates
Image of Robert Abbott Coates
Robert Coates in Navy Uniform
War: World War, 1939-1945
Branch: Navy
Unit: USS Nevada (BB 36); USS San Francisco (CA 38)
Service Location: Pacific Theater; Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
Rank: Electronics Technician First Class
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For a sailor, your ship is your home. On shore at the time of the attack, seeing the bombs hit the USS Nevada, Robert Coates’ first thought was to return to his home. Following the attack, he was transferred to the USS San Francisco, and went on to be involved in some of the biggest naval battles of the Pacific theater. As he describes it, the shock of attack on December 7th was unrivaled, and was an introduction to the even more intense action that he witnessed later in the war.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (4 clips)
»Complete Interview  (89 min.)
Interview (Audio)
»Complete Interview  (89 min.)
»Transcript
  Photos
»Photo Album (2 photos)
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»Pearl Harbor
 Video (Interview Excerpts) (4 items)
Ferrying soldiers to and from the larger ships; trying to rescue soldiers burned by oil; chaos of attack and aftermath; no food or sleep for two days; lots of friendly fire; running into his hometown buddy. (04:54) Shock of attack before they had acclimatized to combat; transferring from the USS Nevada to the USS San Francisco; trained as radioman but helped to man guns; going to Wake Island. (02:40) Losing three battleships at Guadalcanal; USS San Francisco had to take their place; heavy loss of life; daily routine on ship; developing attitude of invincibility in order to cope with stress and fear. (04:32)
Observing the sinking of the USS Juneau. (03:06)  
  
 

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  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
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