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Robert W. Uhlmann
Robert W. Uhlmann in 1941
|Born||August 16, 1919|
|Died||December 7, 1941 (aged 22)|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/||United States Navy|
|Unit||Patrol Squadron 12 (VP-12)|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
Uhlmann was born on August 16, 1919 at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and attended the College of Engineering, University of Michigan, from 1937 until 1940. On September 1940, he enlisted in the United States Naval Reserve as an apprentice seaman and, during November and December, trained in USS Arkansas (BB-33). Following his appointment as a midshipman in the Naval Reserve on March 17, 1941, he trained at the Midshipman School, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois, and on June 12, 1941 was commissioned ensign. After additional training, he reported to Patrol Squadron 24 on August 1, 1941. This squadron, a part of Patrol Wing 2 stationed at Naval Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, was redesignated Patrol Squadron 12 (VP-12) on October 1941.
Pearl Harbor attack
On the morning of December 7, 1941, as the incredulous commander of Patrol Wing 1 investigated reports that a plane of the dawn patrol had depth-charged a Japanese submarine only a mile from the entrance of Pearl Harbor, nine Japanese fighters circled low over the airfield at Kaneohe and then attacked, machine-gunning the control tower and leaving planes in flames in the bay and on the ramp. The men of VP-12 sprang into action without regard for personal safety, exposing themselves to the deadly fire of the enemy planes as they sought to save planes not yet destroyed and to fight off the raiders. The Japanese fighters strafed automobiles trying to reach the field and concentrated attention on men attempting to man guns in the grounded planes. Everyone on station joined the duty sections in combatting the surprise attackers.
While across the island in Pearl Harbor the Pacific Fleet fought for survival, Fleet Air Detachment, Naval Air Station, Kaneohe, waged its own battle against the Japanese attackers with only rifles and machine guns. A short time later, a second wave of enemy planes flew over, bombing vulnerable hangars and planes, and destroying the hangar where many members of Patrol Squadron 12 were obtaining replenishment ammunition for machine guns. Additional strafing attacks followed; and, before the morning was over, eight patrol bomber seaplanes were destroyed, and all 35 planes which had been on the ground when the attack began were out of commission. Air station personnel shot down two Japanese planes and scored hits on the fuel tanks of seven others, but the material and human costs were high. Among the dead at the end of the battle was Ensign Uhlmann who had joined with VP-12 in the courageous attempt to repulse the enemy.