Did he shoot a Japanese Zero fighter plane down with bow and arrow?
1st Lt. Ralph Calef is undoubtedly the only soldier at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, who shot at Japanese fighters with a bow and arrow.
He will return this Dec. 7 as an honored guest at the Arizona Memorial to provide levity for those attending the 60th anniversary of the United States’ entry into World War II. Calef, of the Clyde Lassen VFW Post 10178 in Englewood, will tell his bow and arrow tale to those in attendance.
When the war started, Calef was a supply sergeant stationed at Camp Malacola, near Hicham Field, during the attack on Pearl Harbor.
“I was in charge of quarters that Sunday morning. I had a .45 pistol strapped on my side with no shells. They didn’t trust us with ammunition,” Calef said.
So he ran back to his off-base apartment and got his bow and 12 hunting arrows.
“I watched the first Japanese plane come in so low its wheels almost touched the top of the trees,” he said. “I waited for the second plane and let my arrow fly right into his windshield.
“A few moments later, a Japanese fighter crashed down the street, but my major wouldn’t allow me to go find the plane for a couple of days. When I got there, it was hard to tell if it was the one I shot at because the cockpit plexiglass was smashed out.”
After Pearl Harbor, Calef went to officers’ training and served in the 7th Army in Europe. He was in the thick of the fighting in the North African Campaign, Sicilian Campaign, Southern Italian Campaign, Northern Italian Campaign, Southern France Campaign and German Campaign. He received five campaign stars, two Purple Hearts, the Asiatic Pacific Ribbon, Soldier’s Medal and American Defense Ribbon.
This was first published in the Charlotte-Sun Herald, Port Charlotte, Fla. on Monday, September 10, 2001.
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1 May 1916 – 21 Sep 2012 (age 96)
Arlington National Cemetery
Section 54, Site 4800
Memorial ID 121870893