For 71 years, Betty McIntosh’s first-hand account of the attack on Pearl Harbor went unpublished in the archives of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. According to the Washington Post‘s “The Fold” blog, McIntosh’s editor assigned the young reporter to bring in a “women’s perspective” on the December 7, 1941 attack, but then balked when the material she wrote proved to be too harrowing.
McIntosh spoke to Brook Silva-Braga of “The Fold” about the Japanese sneak attack on the U.S. military installation at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The still of that Sunday morning in Oahu was broken when a wave of Japanese fighter planes bombed the ships and submarines of the U.S. fleet.
McIntosh described the dead and wounded in a local hospital emergency room.
“The first victims of the Japanese-American war were brought there on that bright Sunday morning,” she wrote. “Bombs were still dropping over the city as ambulances screamed off into the heart of the destruction. The drivers were blood-sodden when they returned, with stories of streets ripped up, houses burned, twisted shrapnel and charred bodies of children.”
The morgue, she wrote, was even worse. “In the morgue, the bodies were laid on slabs in the grotesque positions in which they had died. Fear contorted their faces. Their clothes were blue-black from incendiary bombs. One little girl in a red sweater, barefoot, still clutched a piece of jump-rope in her hand.”
McIntosh handed in her story, only to have her editor at the Star-Bulletin reject it.
“(M)y editors thought the graphic content would be too upsetting for readers and decided not to run my article,” she wrote in the Post on Thursday. “It appears here for the first time.”
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