San Augustine man recounts surviving attack on Pearl Harbor

Jim Barclay, of San Augustine, survived the attack on Pearl Harbor
Jim Barclay, of San Augustine, survived the attack on Pearl Harbor

By Morgan Thomas - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – The date "which will live in infamy" was remembered by an East Texan who lived to tell of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Born in San Augustine, raised in Woodville, Jim Barclay is a true East Texan... and a true survivor.

"They hit us first. We were the first ship that sunk," said Barclay.

At just 18, Barclay was in the Navy, assigned to "The Utah," a training vessel. They were docked at Pearl Harbor, the young sailors were enjoying their Sunday morning off.

"It was 7:55 am - 5 minutes to when the first bomb hit... Some guy hollered out the port hole because there was tugboats would hit and wake us up and make everybody mad... I said that was not a tugboat... I looked out the porthole and I saw seven Jap planes coming in," said Barclay.

He tried to warn his buddies on the ship.

"I didn't go 50 feet before water started pouring in. So it was bomb or something that hit in front of me... Well, it was bomb but it didn't go off," said Barclay.

He dragged himself to the high-side of the sinking ship, and came upon a small hatchway with men struggling to escape.

"God, told me I guess to go through that hatchway," said Barclay.

Moments after jumping off the ship and swimming to a concrete block, Japanese pilots spotted them and opened fire.  Once again the American soldiers were back in the water.

They swam to shore where an officer told them to get in a ditch.

"He said get in that ditch! Get in that ditch! And the Japs saw us get in there so they started machine gunning that ditch," said Barclay.

He was almost killed when the airplane hanger he was hiding in was bombed, but escaped a brush with death once more.

Barclay says the memories of that day are as vivid as they were nearly 7 decades ago. He's thankful everyday that he survived the events that happened 69 years ago today.

"I just thank God for protecting me all these years," said Barclay.

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