Marine Corporal E.C. Nightengale, USS Arizona
Marine Corporal E.C. Nightingale was onboard the USS Arizona eating breakfast when the sirens sounded. He had just gotten up from his table when he felt the shaking of his boat. What he saw he couldn’t believe, but all he knew to do was react quickly.
"The railings, as we ascended, were very hot and as we reached the boat deck I noted that it was torn up and burned. The bodies of the dead were thick, and badly burned men were heading for the quarterdeck, only to fall apparently dead or badly wounded. The Major and I went between No. 3 and No. 4 turret to the starboard side and found Lieutenant Commander Fuqua ordering the men over the side and assisting the wounded. He seemed exceptionally calm and the Major stopped and they talked for a moment. Charred bodies were everywhere."
He was terrified seeing his fallen soldiers all around him. Nightingale went on to explain that upon being flailed into the water, his body's state of shock inhibited him from swimming the remaining 150 feet to a pipe line. He would never forget his Major saving him that day.
”...I was about to go under when Major Shapley started to swim by, and seeing my distress, grasped my shirt and told me to hang to his shoulders while he swam in. We were perhaps twenty-five feet from the pipe line when the Major's strength gave out and I saw he was floundering, so I loosened my grip on him and told him to make it alone. He stopped and grabbed me by the shirt and refused to let go. I would have drowned but for the Major. We finally reached the beach where a marine directed us to a bomb shelter, where I was given dry clothes and a place to rest.”