December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked the United States of America at Hawaii. Citadel alumni and former cadets were there. Here are portraits of four men. There were probably several more. If you are aware of another Citadel Man who was there, please inform us so we can properly include and honor him here. This post was originally written on December 7, 2015, with the stories of two men. The third story was added Dec. 7, 2017, and the fourth December, 2018.- Roger Long, ’89.
Fred Burnham Shifflet, Jr., Class of 1942, born May 23, 1919, and hailing from Cuyohoga Falls, Ohio, was a sophomore private of cadet company “A” during the 1938-39 academic year. After completing two years of college, he left The Citadel, returned home and worked as a salesman. He volunteered with the Army Air Corps, entering the service on July 26, 1940, as an aviation cadet.
Second Lieutenant Fred Shifflet, known as “Shifless”, was one of the few American pilots able to get his plane off the ground during the attack on Pearl Harbor. He took off from Wheeler Field in a P-40 which belonged to another squadron sometime after 0900. He made a circle of Pearl Harbor to seek out enemy aircraft, flew over Hickham Field and was filled with AA fire. He deadsticked his borrowed plane back to Wheeler Field to land on flat tires.
On March 3, 1943, during the Battle of the Bismarck Sea, 1Lt. Shifflet piloting P-38G 41-12715, 39th Fighter Squadron, was shot down and crashed into the sea twenty miles east of Tami Island. Lt. Shifflet, who had ten enemy planes to his credit when he was lost, was officially declared dead on December 20, 1945. He is memorialized on the Tablets of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery in the Philippines. There is also a cenotaph with his name at Arlington National Cemetery.
The Citadel’s Fred B. Shifflet Scholarship Fund was initiated in 1991 from the estate of his mother, Estelle M. Shifflet. The first award was made in 1997.
The photo of Cadet Shifflet is from the 1939 Sphinx, the annual of the South Carolina Corps of Cadets, Charleston, S.C., and the photo of 1Lt. Shifflet is from Relentless Pursuit: The Untold Story of the U.S. 5th Air Force’s 39th Fighter Squadron by Ken Dooley.
James Bacon King, Class of 1941, was a freshly commissioned lieutenant serving in the US Army Coastal Artillery Corps. He was stationed in Hawaii when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and his Artillery Battalion was one of the first to fire on the Japanese Zero’s as they bombed the island, and the battleships in the harbor. He survived the attack, and, fortunately, no Citadel Men were lost that day.
Lieutenant Colonel King, U.S. Army, Retired, (January 18, 1920 – November 26, 2008), graduated from The Citadel in May, 1941, with a Bachelor degree in Political Science. He was a member of the Bond Volunteers and Summerall Guards, the Junior and Senior Rifle Drill Platoons respectively. His 1941 Sphinx write-up reads… (more…)