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Only moments before they were poised to play the crisp notes of the “Star-Spangled Banner,” Navy Band No. 22 found itself amidst an unprecedented event – an aerial attack on an American naval base. Sirens blared through the air and the bandmembers dropped their instruments to join their fellow sailors in the defensive and retaliatory efforts against the Japanese. The 21 musicians manned their battle stations, where they implemented their training as ammunition handlers, and ferried gunpowder up to Turret No. 2.
Before long, Japanese fire focused on the turret and at approximately 0809, a fourth bomb penetrated the armor plating next to Turret No. 2. The Arizona began to sink, taking with her 1,177 sailors, including the USS Arizona band, members of the Navy’s only ensemble to have formed, trained, and eventually died together while in service.
S1 James Adkison is memorialized at the Honolulu Memorial in Honolulu, Hawaii.