In the morning hours of December 7, 1941, Carol Gladys and her mother, Frieda, were going about their day in their Long Beach, California home. At the same time, Carol’s father, Navy Lieutenant Joy W. Beezley, was reading the Sunday paper and enjoying a cup of coffee aboard his post on the USS Medusa, a repair ship moored outside Pearl Harbor. LT Beezley wasn’t thrilled to have been transferred to the Medusa; he had spent the past six and a half years happily serving aboard the USS Arizona. The week prior, however, he and the crew of the Medusa, along with the USS Arizona had been at sea for training exercises. They returned to port on December 5; the USS Utah had tied up in Medusa’s normal berth, so instead, the repair ship moored to a different quay for the weekend.
Just as LT Beezley took a sip of his coffee, he caught sight of the first wave of the Imperial Japanese attack. Though it seemed absolutely implausible at the time, Pearl Harbor was under attack.
Onboard, LT Beezley was in charge of the forward battery and the .51 caliber surface gun. Unfortunately, the officer holding the keys for the magazine was ashore, so Beezley ordered sailors to open the lock with a nearby fire ax. The sailors furiously moved into position, sinking one Japanese midget sub and downing two planes.
LT Beezley watched as ten Japanese torpedo bombers attacked the USS Arizona. He was horrified at the magazine explosion, which sunk the ship in nine minutes. A total of 1,777 men died on board, many of them friends of LT Beezley. That was the greatest death toll ever suffered by a US warship.
Back in the USS Medusa’s usual berth, the unfortunate USS Utah was attacked and sunk by a Japanese torpedo. Sixty-four crewmembers perished with the ship.