Welcome to Iowa Public Television! If you are seeing this message, you are using a browser that does not support web standards. This site will look much better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device. Read more on our technical tips page.

Iowa Public Television

 

World War II Veteran: Paul Aschbrenner

posted on April 9, 2006 at 2:29 PM

In order to view this video, you must install Microsoft Silverlight

This video player uses Microsoft Silverlight.


Photos

Born: 1921
Reason for entering military service: Aschbrenner left Sumner in 1940 to enlist in the Navy because there were no jobs in the area.
Assigned: USS Oklahoma BB-37
Rank: Gunners Mate 2nd Class


"I honestly could see in my heart that I couldn't possibly get out of there in my own strength."

Background:

Aschbrenner was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma. On Sunday, December 7, 1941, the Oklahoma was docked in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The attack began at 7:55am, Hawaiian time. After the first torpedoes struck the U.S.S. Oklahoma, the lights went out and Aschbrenner found himself deep inside the ship in the dark. Aschbrenner describes what happened to him as the ship began to roll over.



Transcript

(Aschbrenner) They announced over the speaker to man your—man your battle stations. This is no blank. I’ll let you fill that in yourself. And just as they got the last word out, I can remember very distinctly that a torpedo hit just as I running down the steps down to go to my battle station down at the powder deck aboard the battleship.

Gunners Mate Paul Aschbrenner was a 19 year-old sailor from Sumner, who had joined the Navy the year before, because there were no jobs available near his home. Aschbrenner was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma. On Sunday, December 7, 1941, the Oklahoma was docked in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The attack began at 7:55am, Hawaiian time. After the first torpedoes struck the Oklahoma, the lights went out and Aschbrenner found himself deep inside the ship; in the dark.

(Aschbrenner) And the ship started to list—started to turn over. And as it was turning over, I got about one or two decks up. I think the next deck was the shell deck. I honestly could see in my heart that I couldn’t possibly get out of there in my own strength. And I—I knew of the Lord, but I really didn’t really have Him into my heart. But I asked Him if He would spare my life that I would dedicate my life over for Him to use, and in some miraculous way, I did get out. And as I was getting out of the overhang of the turret, the crude oil and water was coming in.

The dive-bombing and torpedo attacks lasted for a little more than an hour. For Aschbrenner, and everyone else at Pearl Harbor, the attack had been a complete surprise

Tags: battlefront bombs education Hawaii history Iowa military Navy Oklahoma Pearl Harbor summer veterans war World War II