The Pearl Harbor Flag
About the Flag
“There are many American Flags, but few quite so rare or unique as this one. This is an oil stained, bullet-ridden 48 star flag which flew from the U.S. Naval Destroyer USS Cassin DD372 while in drydock at the Pearl Harbor Naval Base, Oahu, Hawaii, on the morning of Sunday, December 7, 1941. The flag was retrieved later by the late Chief Petty Officer, Charles Metz of Vallejo, California and was later presented to the League of Naval Destroyermen (sic), by his widow, to be used as our national colors.”
In 1975, Robert H. Carlson presented to Dr. Jerry Falwell the American flag that flew on the Cassin, the destroyer that Mr. Carlson served on in World War II.
According to resources at the Naval Historical Center, the flag is probably a size 7. ON the fly of the flag there is an inscription that indicated that it came from the Mare Island Naval Shipyard in 1936.
*Efforts to further Verify the information above are ongoing
About the USS Cassin and USS Downes
The destroyers USS Cassin and USS Downes were moored with the battleship USS Pennsylvania in Drydock 1 at the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard on December 7, 1941. When the Pennsylvania, the flagship of the Pacific fleet, was attacked, a number of the bombers targeting the Pennsylvania missed it and hit the Cassin and Downes instead. Explosive and incendiary bombs struck on and around the destroyers, causing uncontrollable fires on both ships. The hulls were bent out of shape, with the ship plating being warped by the intense heat and punctured by shrapnel. Torpedoes and ammunition aboard the destroyers went off like giant firecrackers and metal splinters flew about with such force that a 500-pound torpedo tube from the Downes was thrown backwards up onto the deck of the Pennsylvania.
Despite heavy strafing, the crews of all three ships got their gun batteries into action, driving off further attacks by Japanese planes. Drydock 1 was flooded in an effort to quench the fires, but the burning oil rose with the water level. When the ammunition and torpedo warheads onboard the destroyers began to explode, the two ships were abandoned. The rising water caused the Cassin to off her blocks and capsize into the Downes.
Though the initial impressions of the damage to the USS Cassin were that she was a total loss, a closer examination showed that her main battery, hull fittings and machinery were in reasonably good condition. Accordingly, efforts were begun to remove guns and other topside equipment from the capsized ship and patch up her hull enough to allow it to float and turn her upright. She left drydock on February 18th, and was taken to the Mare Island Navy Shipyard in California where she was rebuilt and re-commissioned on February 5, 1944. She eventually took part in the pre-assault of the island of Iwo Jima. The Pennsylvania was back in action by December 20, 1941, and a rebuilt Downes sailed from San Francisco on March 8, 1944, to provide further service to the Pacific Fleet.