A North Carolina Pearl Harbor Story

Harley Jolley

Harley Jolley

On December 7, 1941, Japanese planes staged a surprise attack on U.S. military forces at Pearl Harbor. It is the day that, in the words of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, will “live in infamy” and it is the day that led the U.S. to enter into World War II. Roosevelt had ordered American forces to deploy at Oahu, Hawaii, in hopes of deterring further Japanese expansion. War minister Hideki Tojo took power in Tokyo in October and set in motion the events of December 7th. In two waves, 350 Japanese planes took part in the assault resulting in death of 2,403 Americans.

Harley Jolley, 92, is a retired professor of history at Mars Hill College and a veteran of the Civilian Conservation Corps. Enrolled in the Army Air Force and stationed at Hickam Air Field, he was asleep at 7:55 a.m. when the attack commenced. His bunkmate, hearing the commotion, suggested that “the damn Navy is at it again.” The truth of the matter soon became painfully obvious. Jolley rushed to a guard position at the perimeter of the field and judges today that he was “very fortunate” to have avoided injury. He served in the military for the entire war, mostly in France and Belgium.

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