Thursday, December 07, 2006

Eugene & Mercedes Kump

So I feel that I should take a moment to remember Pearl Harbor Day. My grandfather, pictured above with my grandmother at my wedding, was a Pearl Harbor survivor. In 1941, he was on the the
USS Medusa stationed in Pearl Harbor. The Medusa was a repair ship. I interviewed my Grandpa for a report I did on Pearl Harbor in 10th grade World History class, which I turned in on May 2, 1994.

My grandpa passed away last summer, but I still have the report. I remember always being so proud of him. I also loved to ask him questions, however as he got older he got more sentimental, he couldn't seem to speak about it without tears. I think a lot of it was because so many of those young men died and he felt like he had such a long good life, that they missed out on. So on today when we are looking back at Pearl Harbor, an event that shaped a generation, here is a little of the interview I did with my grandfather. Forgive the question, remember I was in 10th grade.

Eugene Kump
Pearl Harbor Survivor
First Pattern Maker, USS Medusa
Born June 26, 1919 Calumet, Michigan
Died July 2005 Calumet, Michigan

Q: How long were you in the Navy?

A: Six years.

Q: How long beofre Pearl Harbor?

A: I went in April 8, 1940 and go out April 8, 1946.

Q: What was your rank during Pearl Harbor?
A: During Pearl Harbor, I think First Pattern Maker.

Q: How old were you?
A: About 22 or 23.

Q: When were you first stationed at Pearl Harbor?
A: I got there in August of 1940.

Q: What ship were you on?

A: On the USS Medusa.

Q: What kind of ship was it?

A: Fleet Repair.

Q: Did it have any guns on the ship?
A: Yeah, we had a four or five inch broadside and a couple of 40 millimeter anti-aircraft guns and to three inch anti-aircraft guns.

Q: What were you doing during the attack?
A: I was laying down in my bunk.

Q: Were you sleeping?
A: Yes, because it was Sunday morning.

Q: How did you find out who was attacking you?

A: As soon as the bombs dropped they passed the word through general quarters.

Q: What did you see?
A: I saw, when the bombs strated dropping. I looked out of the port and saw the hanger and Fort Island going up in smoke.

Q: Did you see any of the big destroyers go?

A: Yes I saw it all, my general quarters station was on top of the signal bridge and I was the lookout.

Q: Did you see the Arizona go down?
A: I saw it on the other side of the island, I saw it explode and go burning. I didn't know whether it went down or not.

Q: Were you near the Utah?
A: Yes, I was across the canal from the Utah. The Utah, I think, took our berth. Before the war started we all went out on maneuvers and we got in about two weeks before, before the attack. The Utah drew more water than we did so we went across the canal, where the Pan American Clipper used to land. At that time it was called Pearl City. And there was the USS Curtis who was on the east side of us and two tin cans over to the west side of us, about 12 yards or so apart.

Q: Did you shoot at the plans?

A: No, I didn't have a gun, I was on a signal bridge.

Q: Did anhyone near you get hurt?

A: No, nobody on the ship got hurt. We had four near misses. One on the starboard side of the bow and one on each side of the fan tail, and there was a 50 foot motor launch coming back on lunar landing. When one of the bombs dropped and the 50 foot motor launch was coming in to make gangway and it landed right behind us. And lifted that motor launch, the stern end about 10 feet in the air and then she come down, because the explosion would be about a 50 foot radius, that the water would raise up 10 feet. When the bomb went off, whe she hit bottom.

Q: What was the rest of the day like after the attack?
A: Well we had to stay there on watch most of the morning. And then the two man submarine was coming towards us. We saw the pariscope and then the 50 caliber machine guns started riddling at it. She went down. The next thing we saw was, she was heading away from us. Then they fired a five inch broadside at it. They lowered it down as far as it would go and it just skimmed the combing on the paint. Later about one year and a half or two years later we happed to be in that same area when they were lifting a submarine up.

Q: So the men on the sub died?
A: Naturally it [sub] was all mangled. Then a couple of minutes after, we saw the Monaghan a 354 destroyer. She was coming around the end of Fort Island. A signaling gun bliniker was flashing lights, telling them about the sub. You could see the tin can go down, stern dend and then bow raised up. She started rolling and she came right over top of were the sub was ajust about. She dropped two tin cans, they went down and that's probably mangled that sub.

Q: What are tin cans?
A: They are about the size of a 50 gallon drum and they got high explosives, death chartes.

Q: How did it effect the people around you?

A: I don't think they were scared. It was too exciting to be scared. The plane go over top. The high altitude bomber would go one way and next time they'd come back another way. The torpedo bombers come in low and you could see them. They'd fly almost directly over the ship. You could see the pilots in there. It was just like if you were sitting on your back deck and the plance came over 15 feet above you. Then one of the planes was hit when they flew over us. He started over near those two tin cans and it was coming into the water. Then I saw them stop the plan three feet off the water and then she went straight down. He got up on the wing and was waving his white handkerchief and everybody turned his machine gun on him. He didn't last.

Q: What happened after the attack?
A: After the attack they had crews going around with motor launch and they had an alter on the front. It looked like a big scoope, like a rake, with four or five prongs and about 10 feet wide. They go down and when they'd see a body they'd scoop it up and dump it in the motor launch. It was all garbage and oil and stuff all over the harbor.

Q: Did you have to leave the harbor?
A: No, we had to stay there and work, We had to get them ships back in shape.

Q: Was the base devastated?

A: Yes, the Utah was capsized and on the other side was the Oklahoma and then the California, Tenneesse, the Maryland they were down. The only ship that was about to get out of the harbor, had been near the dry dock, Tin Tin Dock. She made a cruise around. She was heading out to channel, when she got hit and she went down. So instead of continuing the channel she run ground, so she wouldn't block the channel. Then she sat there for a couple of months before anyone really pumped the water out of it and patched her up and got going again.

Q: What do you think of Roosevelt?

A: Well I think they [Washington] are a bunch of idiots, they knew it was coming but they didn't give a hoot.

Q: Was everyone really upset with Japan?
A: They still are upset, that is the fellas that were there.

Q: What message does Pearl Harbor leave for my generation?
A: "Remember Pearl Harbor, keep America alert."


Anonymous said...

Very nice, Jennie...a nice tribute to your grandpa...

Jill D said...

Awww, gave me goosebumps. :) In a good way, of course.

The weird thing is his answer to the last question. Decades later and we're holding to that more than ever...

Cousinly Love!

Anonymous said...

Hi Jennie,
I just found your web page as I was looking for info on my fathers ship the Medusa and Pearl Harbor info. He was also on board at the same time as your grandfather! His name was Eugene"Gene"Brown and his rank was Chief Machinist Mate at the time. My father passed in 1983 at 69 yrs and didn't really say much about the attack so it was great reading your interview. Thanks if you find any memorabelia and or interesting info during this time please e amil me at thanks so much