The famous photo, see attached, shows the crash site of a
US Navy SBD with two crew members and also the crash of
a Japanese Aichi Val dive bomber with two crew members.
The two planes crashed next to each other because they
were tightly engaged and one apparently struck the other,
with no altitude to bail out, killing all four in both planes.
The US Navy air crew were recovered later, however an
Army patrol buried the badly burned Japanese air crew in
an unmarked grave near the crash site and the location was
lost due to the rough coral terrain. They are still there- PO2c
Koreyoshi Sotoyama, pilot and radioman, Flyer 1c Hajime Murao.
The crash site itself was also lost as decades later a golf course
was constructed on the property after presumably all of the visible
crash wreckage had been removed by the military.
Using documents, maps, air photos, etc obtained from National
Archives, I have been able to locate the crash area again as seen in
the photo, which is near to the main golf country club
building. In 1941 the area was a thick forest of Kiawe trees.
This action was the largest air battle of the Pearl Harbor attack which
actually took place over what is today known as Ewa, Oahu, near
One’ula Beach. Army P-40B Warhawks shot down Japanese Aichi
Vals while Japanese Zero’s engaged several US Navy SBD’s over
the shoreline and what is today a golf course. Amazingly, one of the
most famous photos of this air battle and resulting crashes was
captured by an Army photographer in a passing B-17 attempting to
land at Hickam Field.
We believe that there should be a monument-marker placed
there that describes this historic December 7, 1941 air battle and the
names of the American and Japanese killed there in the crashes.
I believe funds could be raised from US Veteran groups and in
Japan for this marker-monument, with coordination by the US National
I know that people in Japan that I have been in contact with
would also appreciate that Japanese pilots killed there that
morning would also be remembered, which we hope will happen
Ewa Battlefield Historian