By Tammy Sue Struble
A woman who responded to a “We Buy Military Photos, Uniforms” advertisement helped Zephyrhills collector John Bolender obtain some first-hand memorabilia from a day that lives in infamy in American history.
Chief Warrant Officer Clyde Daughtry spent 27 years in the Navy, according to the contents of his footlocker that Bolender now keeps at East 54 Mini Storage in Zephyrhills, where he has a room stuffed with military memorabilia. On Dec. 7, 1941, that former Naval photographer was stationed at Pearl Harbor. When Japan bombed that base 69 years ago this week, Daughtry was three decks below aboard the docked USS Argonne. Some of his shipmates ran below to inform him “we were being attacked,” according to his journal.
Daughtry hurried to topside to see for himself, thinking it was a “sham.” It was no sham – there was a “large splash 100 ft.” (from him).
He ran below to get his 16 mm film camera together. Mr. Daughtry explained that most of the crews on the ships in the harbor were sleeping at about 7:55 a.m. when the attack on Pearl Harbor began because they had weekend liberty.
“We were taken so much off guard,” Daughtry wrote, “most of the damage was done before our guns got into action. The (Japs) flew so low, they could be seen laughing at my shipmates running on deck” from the machine guns on their planes.
Daughtry was able to film over the last half of the attack as it took him around 10-15 minutes to get his camera together.
When the day was done, the Navy photographer turned over his film to the Navy. His footage was one of few films of the attack. For years, Clyde tried to locate the original films and get credit for his photography that day. The Navy researched and confirmed his films had existed; however, they were unable to locate the originals.
In 1983 the Department of the Navy sent Clyde Daughtry, Retired USN, a letter of congratulations and stated, “We … owe you a double debt of gratitude, both for making the film in 1941 and for persevering in your search for it over the years.”
Clyde passed away Nov. 17, 1985 in Fort Myers, Florida. His last excerpt in his notes on the attack on Pearl Harbor, “Their (sp) was much more damage I didn’t know about, but from one sailor to another, that was Hell on Earth Dec. 7, 1941 at Pearl Harbor.”