Ships are commanded by Captains, naval divisions by Rear Admirals. The U.S.S. Arizona was the flagship of Battleship Division One of the U.S. Pacific Fleet on Deceber 7th, 1941. There were six men who performed extraordinary feats that day and earned the Medal of Honor. Three of them were on the same ship.
When aircraft of the Kido Butai of the Japanese Imperial Navy attacked the ships anchored off of Battleship Row the captain of the Arizona, CAPT Franklin Van Valkenburgh, and the Commander of Battleship Division One, RADM Isaac C. Kidd, rushed from their quarters to their posts and began the defense of the ship. LCDR Samuel Fuqua, the ship's damage control officer, took charge of his duties as well. At 08:06 in the vicinity of Turret II an armor-piercing bomb hit, likely penetrating the armored deck near the ammunition magazines located in the forward section of the ship. About seven seconds after the hit, the forward magazines detonated in a cataclysmic explosion. Both RADM Kidd and CAPT Van Valkenburgh died in the blast. LCDR Fuqua continued to perform his duties and coolly directed damage control efforts until it was obvious the Arizona could not be saved. As he was her senior surviving officer and was responsible for saving her remaining crewmen, he then directed an orderly evacuation of the ship.
The bodies of RADM Kidd and CAPT Valkenburgh were never recovered. LCDR Fuqua survived the attack and retired from active duty in July 1953, receiving at that time the rank of Rear Admiral.
Their Medal of Honor citations state the following:
For RADM Kidd:
For conspicuous devotion to duty, extraordinary courage and complete disregard of his own life, during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor, by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. Rear Adm. Kidd immediately went to the bridge and, as Commander Battleship Division One, courageously discharged his duties as Senior Officer Present Afloat until the U.S.S. Arizona, his Flagship, blew up from magazine explosions and a direct bomb hit on the bridge which resulted in the loss of his life.
For CAPT Van Valkenburgh:
For conspicuous devotion to duty, extraordinary courage and complete disregard of his own life, during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor T.H., by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. As commanding officer of the U.S.S. Arizona, Capt. Van Valkenburgh gallantly fought his ship until the U.S.S. Arizona blew up from magazine explosions and a direct bomb hit on the bridge which resulted in the loss of his life.
For LCDR Fuqua:
For distinguished conduct in action, outstanding heroism, and utter disregard of his own safety above and beyond the call of duty during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor, by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. Upon the commencement of the attack, Lt. Comdr. Fuqua rushed to the quarterdeck of the U.S.S. Arizona to which he was attached where he was stunned and knocked down by the explosion of a large bomb which hit the guarterdeck, penetrated several decks, and started a severe fire. Upon regaining consciousness, he began to direct the fighting of the fire and the rescue of wounded and injured personnel. Almost immediately there was a tremendous explosion forward, which made the ship appear to rise out of the water, shudder, and settle down by the bow rapidly. The whole forward part of the ship was enveloped in flames which were spreading rapidly, and wounded and burned men were pouring out of the ship to the quarterdeck. Despite these conditions, his harrowing experience, and severe enemy bombing and strafing, at the time, Lt. Comdr. Fuqua continued to direct the fighting of fires in order to check them while the wounded and burned could be taken from the ship and supervised the rescue of these men in such an amazingly calm and cool manner and with such excellent judgment that it inspired everyone who saw him and undoubtedly resulted in the saving of many lives. After realizing the ship could not be saved and that he was the senior surviving officer aboard, he directed it to be abandoned, but continued to remain on the quarterdeck and directed abandoning ship and rescue of personnel until satisfied that all personnel that could be had been saved, after which he left his ship with the boatload. The conduct of Lt. Comdr. Fuqua was not only in keeping with the highest traditions of the naval service but characterizes him as an outstanding leader of men.
We are told that Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku recorded those words in his diary when he learned that the Nipponese ambassador to the United States had not delivered the message that broke off diplomatic relations to Secretary of State Cordell Hull until well after the bombs had begun to drop on Hawaii.
The good admiral had lived and studied in the United States. He had to know that Americans would pull together and respond.
It is said that Admiral Yamamoto said to those around him, "Gentlemen, we have just kicked a rabid dog."
Yeah, well, you should have thought of that earlier. Maybe you could have avoided this: