December 7, 2009

Pearl Harbor: A 1942 Radio Broadcast Script



My files on my grandfather, Albert C. Briskay*, include a script from an NBC radio broadcast that contained interviews from non-military personnel, including my grandfather, at the Navy Yard in Pearl Harbor. Below is the text of Briskay’s part of the interview.

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1100-1115 – Wednesday, March 18, 1942

WAHL: Remember Pearl Harbor? This broadcast comes to you from the pulsating heart of that gigantic mid-Pacific naval base, 2200 miles west and south of San Francisco. Until three months ago, Pearl Harbor was just a name! Today it is a legend…..the place where our war began.  Here are all the complex activities that comprise a naval base.

And there are men – thousands of them – civilian workers – who ready the ships for new jobs at sea when they come in from scouring the seventy million square miles of this Pacific battle front. For every man at sea there must be many ashore – just as every plane in the air needs ground crews to service it.

Today we are speaking to you from one of Pearl Harbor’s biggest servicing centers – from the edge of one of the great drydocks. Listen a minute to the sound and the fury of Pearl Harbor at work!


WAHL: This is Jim Wahl, speaking for KGU and the National Broadcasting Company. Today we’re going to try and give you a brief picture of some of the men at Pearl Harbor and of the jobs they do. We’re fortunate in having as our guide, Captain Charles D. Swain, production officer of this Navy Yard…

(omitted are several pages of Swain’s interview, to be posted next December…)

WAHL: Well, since we can’t cover all thousand acres (of the naval reservation), I’ll compromise for interviews with a few of your men. Fair enough?

SWAIN:  Absolutely! Here comes a fellow now who’s typical of the men in this yard. In the last war he served on one of our submarines, and he’s been working with submarines ever since.

WAHL: I’d like to meet him.

SWAIN: He came here not long ago from the Portsmouth Navy Yard in New Hampshire. Name’s Albert Briskay. Oh, Briskay, step over here a minute, will you?

BRISKAY: Glad to know you.

WAHL: It’s mutual. By the way, what’s your job here at Pearl Harbor?

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BRISKAY: Why, I hold the rating of a quarterman machinist specializing in submarine work.

WAHL: I SEE…..and your age, I’d guess, is about—-43?

BRISKAY: Thanks, but 48 would be closer.

WAHL: Since you know this submarine business fore and aft, how would you compare the submarines of this war with those of the last world war?

BRISKAY: Well, they’re bigger – specially here in this Pacific where distances are greater. Naturally they’re going more modern, but essentially their job is the same—and that’s to sink more tonnage than the other fellow.

WAHL: Alright, here’s another one I’d like to put to you. How about comparing our subs and submarines, with those of Japan and Germany.

BRISKAY: That’s not easy! Submariners are generally the pick of any Navy. There are no flies on the Jap sub crews, but I think our subs are better and our men are better trained.

WAHL: Sub warfare in the Pacific to date bears you out on that, Mr. Briskay. By the way, are you a married man?

BRISKAY: Yes. My wife and two children, a girl 20 and a boy 15, live in Portsmouth.

WAHL: I’ll bet that boy of yours can hardly wait to follow his dad’s footsteps into the Navy.

BRISKAY: No, I don’t think so.

WAHL: Wait a minute now. Why not?

BRISKAY:  Well, Jack’s quite a horseman, and there aren’t any horses in the Navy.

WAHL: I get it. (laughing)

BRISKAY: Say, I’d like to ask you a question.

WAHL: Alright…..shoot. But make it easy.

BRISKAY: Could you tell me how Pearl Harbor got it’s name? I’ve been wondering about it for a long time.

WAHL: It’s a good question. Well, Mr. Briskay, I’ve been told that the old Hawaiians sometimes found Pearls here in oysters. They say that more than a hundred years ago, in the days of Hawaii’s great conquerer, Kamehameha, many native divers worked Pearl Harbor regularly for Pearls. In fact, legend says a famed Hawaiian chief cut out the first channel from the sea some 27 generations ago to get at the loot.

SWAIN: And just before the last war, Jim, the harbor was dredged and the channel deepened again. The first warship entered the harbor only three years before World War One began. It was quite an occasion. The last Queen of Hawaii….Lilluikalani, was among the honored guests to welcome the ship.

WAHL: That’s something I didn’t know, Captain, and I’ve lived here a long time. Well, Mr. Briskay, time’s flying and we want to meet some of your fellow workers. Meantime, we certainly hope your family heard your voice today from out here in Pearl Harbor.

BRISKAY: Thank you. I hope so, too.

SWAIN: Jim, I might say, just in case Briskay’s wife IS listening–her husband is one of the top men we have here in the general overhaul and maintenance work.

WAHL: Mrs. Briskay, take note.

(A second segment of this radio interview (Albert Briskay was the first of three interviewees) will be posted March 18, 2010, the 68th anniversary of its original airing. A third segment will be posted December 7, 2010, and a final posting will occur March 18, 2010.)

*My grandfather was born in Lithuania, and migrated to Minersville (Schuylkill County), Pennsylvania 1n 1895 when he was about two years old. His father and three uncles were coal miners. Sometime between my grandfather’s World War I Navy service (including a 1914 European cruise on the U. S. S. Delaware, and his 1920 marriage to May Isabelle Walker, he changed his name from Adam C. Borinsky to Albert Adam Charles Briskay.


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The French military in America during the American Revolution Part 1

The French military in America during the American Revolution: Part II


From the Bastille to Cinderella


  1. Very interesting Carolyn, thank you. I did not know thia baout Grandpa. Love, Cynthia

    Comment by Cynthia — December 7, 2009 @ 5:31 pm | Reply

  2. Hi Carolyn:
    My Great Uncle was Jim Wahl, and I’ve been trying to find audio recordings of any of his work. He also broadcast during the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and was an announcer on the old “Hawai’i Calls” radio show. Have you come across any audio of this?

    Thanks much-

    Suzanne Eckes-Wahl

    Comment by Suzanne Eckes-Wahl — November 7, 2010 @ 11:47 am | Reply

    • Carolyn, Jim[James McDonald] Wahl was my grandfathers [Ernest C. Wahl], youngest brother. I would love to hear the answer to this question. I remember Sunday nights and Hawaii Calls.
      I would love to know where to get a copy on His Pearl Harbor announcement to the world broadcast [as he was asked to get the word out and the powers that be in Honolulu, felt the fastest way to tell of the bombing of Pearl Harbor was for Jim to go back on the radio.] Thank You,

      Comment by wenda windbigler — August 2, 2011 @ 8:01 pm | Reply

      • Wenda, I am sorry but I don’t know where to access this information. The print copy of broadcast I posted was among my grandfather’s papers. I thought it should be a part of history. Thank you for asking, though.

        Carolyn Cornell Holland

        Comment by carolyncholland — August 3, 2011 @ 12:33 am

  3. I was married to Harry v Spade Jr in 1955 and we went to Hawaii for our Honeymoon. Jim Wahl was some kind of relative of my husbands. Jim invited us to extend our honeymoon stay from 2 weeks to 3 weeks, and opened his house to us. What a gracious man he was. I’ve been back to Hawaii at least 2 dozen times since then. And while I was divorced from Mr. Spade and remarried, I continue to be a visitor to the Hawaiian Islands.
    Elaine Parrish

    Comment by elaine Parrish — June 19, 2011 @ 1:20 pm | Reply

    • Elaine, Thank you for your kind comments. I hope you enjoyed the post. Carolyn Cornell Holland

      Comment by carolyncholland — June 19, 2011 @ 3:56 pm | Reply

  4. […] As I write this, and I’m certain as I try these recipes, I will be thinking of my Lithuanian ancestors who settled in Minersville, Pennsylvania, and worked in the coal mines. My grandfather escaped the mining community by joining the Navy, and becoming an expert submarine repairman. […]

    Pingback by Lithuanian Recipes: Dumplings, Beet Soup | Carolyn's Online Magazine — March 31, 2015 @ 1:04 am | Reply

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