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USS Tracy, Report of Pearl Harbor Attack

DM19/A16 U.S.S. Tracy (DM19) GRP/wm
    Pearl Harbor, T.H.
December 10, 1941.



From: The Commanding Officer.
To: The Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
Subject: Report of Action, December 7, 1941.
Reference: (a) Article 712, Navy Regulations, 1921.
  1. The following report of action with Japanese aircraft is submitted in accordance with reference (a), and due to the absence of both the captain and the executive officer at the beginning of the attack, only one combined report is submitted:


    On December 7, 1941, at 0750, the U.S.S. Tracy was moored portside to berth 16, Navy Yard, Pearl Harbor, T.H., undergoing overhaul. The U.S.S. Preble and U.S.S. Cummings were moored to starboard in that order respectively. The ship was totally disabled, having the main and auxiliary machinery, boilers and gun batteries dismantled. All ammunition had been sent to the Naval Ammunition Depot, Oahu, T.H.


    Four officers and the duty section were on board. The entire crew was being quartered and messed at the Receiving Barracks, Navy Yard, Pearl Harbor, T.H., so that only the duty section was on board, the remainder being at the barracks or on liberty.


    About 0753, the Officer of the Deck, Ensign L.B. Ensoy, U.S. Navy, and the watch on deck saw dive bombers make attacks on battleships and Ford Island (about ten planes). These planes came from the North. This attack was immediately followed by attacks of horizontal bombers and dive bombers on same objectives plus the ships in the dry dock. One of the dive bombers passed a single engine biplane, probably a type 94. At 0805 torpedo planes were observed coming in from an Easterly direction and launching torpedoes against the battleships at Ford Island.

    At the first attack, fire hoses were connected but not laid out. The ship was closed up as much as possible, and work started to break out and assemble .30 caliber and .50 caliber machine guns. Steel helmets and damage control gear were broken out. At 0820 men were sent to the U.S.S. Cummings to assist at gun batteries and in the ammunition train. At 0825 approximately fifteen men attached to the U.S.S. Tracy were sent to the U.S.S. Pennsylvania to fight fires. WHITE, W.A., BM2c, USN, was senior man in this party, and reports that part of this party helped fight fires in the drydock, while others went aboard and helped with the ammunition train. While setting fuses in the after starboard gun compartment of the U.S.S. Pennsylvania, ZACEK, Laddie J., F.2c., USN, was killed by the explosion of a bomb which hit just above this compartment. Two other men, BIRD, John A., Sea.1c, USN, and PENCE, John W., R.M.3c, USN, were though to have been in this same compartment and are now missing. At 0825 Tracy was ready to open fire with three .30 caliber Lewis guns, very limited ammunition. At 0900 high altitude bombers passed overhead in several waves. One bomb fell in the slip between the stern of the U.S.S. Rigel at berth 13 and the stern of the U.S.S. Cummings, the outboard ship at berth 15. Fragments of this bomb did minor damage to the gig which was moored astern. At 0915 this commanding officer returned on board and found the ship and crew well organized, alert and calm. The two .50 caliber machine guns had been mounted and parties were attempting to borrow ammunition from other ships present. About this time dive bombers attacked out of the sun. Two drums of .50 caliber ammunition appeared miraculously and fire was immediately opened. One plane of this group pulled out over the submarine base and flew low over Building 155 and crashed in flames in the vicinity of Hospital Point, after a salvo by the U.S.S. Cummings. The plane appeared to be a type 99 dive bomber. Intermittent action against stray planes lasted until about 1000. Type 99 dive bombers were observed rendezvousing at about 3000 feet to seaward of Hickam Field. When observed, there were approximately 18 planes in the formation, which was a tight vee of vee's. By 1000 all officers and men were on board and more .50 caliber machine gun ammunition became available. At 1040 the U.S.S. Cummings got underway. Intermittent attacks by stray planes were observed. Prior to getting underway, the U.S.S. Cummings returned all of the Tracy men who were on board. Crew was mustered at stations and eighteen absentees reported. Approximately ten Tracy men were sent to help fight fires on the U.S.S. California. By 1100 it became apparent that the Japanese had definitely withdrawn. At 1200 sent four gunner's mates qualified in mines to West Loch. At 1430 upon the return of all working parties, careful muster was taken of crew. Three men were missing: ZACEK, Laddie John, 368 50 90, F.2c., USN; PENCE, John Wallace, 321 30 25, R.M. 3c., USN; and BIRD, John Arthur, 376 19 51, Sea.1c, USN. All of these men were detailed at the Receiving Barracks to help fight the fire on the U.S.S. Pennsylvania. ZACEK's body has been definitely identified. The bodies of the other two men have not been found, but while it cannot be positively stated, it seems more than probable that they were killed at their stations on the U.S.S. Pennsylvania.

    As soon as condition allowed, steps were taken to close all openings in the hull caused by overhaul and the anti-aircraft machine guns were continuously manned. At 2100 friendly planes with running lights were fired upon by anti-aircraft batteries in harbor, but Tracy did not open fire.


    No material damage was sustained by this vessel except very slight damage to the gig.

    The casualties suffered are as follows:


    ZACEK, Laddie John 368 50 90, F 2c., USN – Killed.
    PENCE, John Wallace 321 30 25, RM3c, USN – Missing.
    BIRD, John Arthur 376 19 51, Sea1c, USN – Missing.

    The above men were all detailed to aid in fighting fires on the Pennsylvania, and all were probably killed when a bomb hit that vessel.



    The conduct of the officers was most exemplary and in accordance with the best traditions of the service. The Officer of the Deck, Ensign L.B. Ensey, U.S. Navy, and young ensign of the class of '41 at the Naval Academy, calmly and energetically took all of the necessary measures and ably assisted by the three remaining officers on board, all of them U.S. Naval Reserve, had the crew well organized and stationed to the best advantage considering the disabled condition of the ship.


    The conduct of the Chief Petty Officers, Petty Officers' and other ratings, were deserving of the highest praise. Although greatly surprised, they energetically reacted to the situation and did everything possible within the very definite limits of a disabled ship to combat the attack. No instance of panic or excitement was noticed although one bomb fell within twenty yards of the ship. Very few orders were necessary, as even the more inexperienced ratings showed surprising initiative and common sense. This Commanding Officer has had much contact with the Japanese Navy and has often wondered how conduct of our men would be compared to the highly cultivated fanatical zeal displayed by the Japanese ratings. After witnessing the calm and almost nonchalant courage and energetic initiative tempered by common sense displayed by the American Enlisted Men in the recent attack, there is no doubt in his mind of our superiority and that our system of training is correct.

    Generally speaking, the conduct of all hands was excellent and in accordance with the standards of the service. There were no outstanding cases worthy of individual commendation and there were most certainly no cases deserving of censure.



    Combatfor (2)
    Cominbatfor (2)
    Comindiv ONE (1) 

    Source: Enclosure (E) to CINCPAC action report Serial 0479 of 15 February 1942, World War II action reports, Modern Military Branch, National Archives and Records Administration, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740.


Published: Wed Mar 14 09:21:56 EDT 2018