Pearl Harbor was to my parents’ generation what 9/11 was to mine. Each triggered a protective national rage.

Each also taught lessons about preparedness.

No one at Pearl Harbor thought the massive sneak attack was going to happen. They weren’t able to mount an effective defense until it was altogether too late.

I recently watched a DVD movie that in theory should have nothing in common with the anniversary we mark every December 7th, but does have a parallel in the preparedness area.

The movie is “Endangered Species”.  A nice American family – mom and dad, teen son and daughter and latter’s boyfriend – go on an unguided photo safari in Kenya. By turns, their rented van is rolled over by a charging rhino, injuring the occupants, who are then set upon by a pack of hyenas, a leopard, and human predators. The latter range from game poachers to sick psychopaths who hunt humans.

Naturally, modern Hollywood being what it is, the protagonists are unarmed. SPOILER ALERT: they don’t all make it out, and none make it out unscathed.

A lesson in preparedness: when you know that there are certain entities which are programmed to destroy you, it is wise to have the capability of fending them off.

While I’ve never been to Kenya, I’ve been to South Africa a couple of times and once to what was then Southwest Africa and is now Namibia. We were never far from powerful rifles — .308 Winchester at the least, up through .375 Magnum and .458 caliber “elephant rifles,” and all the Americans in our party had loaded revolvers on our belts at all times.  If there wasn’t time to load a .375, the hot-loaded 320-grain hard cast SSK bullets in my .44 Magnum would have done fine against the van-rolling beast: the CGI image of the movie presented the rhinoceros’ head and upper spine as straight-on targets for deep penetrating bullets. It would have been ample for hyenas (in fact, I did kill one of those), the leopard, and any of the homicidal bipeds presented in the movie.

Preparedness ain’t paranoia, but as both Pearl Harbor and “Endangered Species” demonstrate, un-preparedness can quickly become the source of terrifying helplessness in a life-or-death situation.


  1. Totally agree. I could never understand how people can be so unprepared .You see it all the time in the news. I just shake my head. I was a boy scout and still live by that motto , BE PREPARED.


  2. My anti-gun friends (I have a few) knowing that I carry, have asked what I am afraid of. The answer is always “being unprepared”. Living in the increasingly violent Pacific Northwest I can’t understand why they feel comfortable especially since law enforcement response times for life or limb emergencies now exceed 10 minutes in my neighborhood. I also carry a pocket IFAK with a tourniquet, hemostatic gauze, and a pressure bandage. It’s no MASH but it’s something.

    • Ten minutes? Thatt’s amazingly fast. Funny how I learned my next door neighbur has guns… he shared with me the morning after he had chased a thief out of his grage wiht his thirty eight revolver. Good on yer, Mate!! Funny thing.. there had been a spate of breakins and petty yard thefts, but after that happened, nothing.. for several years.

      I carry everywhere (in the PNW where I also live) and do so for the same reason I fasten my seatbelts, keep my car in good condition, (including spare tyre and appropriate tools, not one of those toy spares, either) , wear respirator when spray paiting, N95 masks when grinding, sandblasting, dark goggles when welding, clear specs when griding, heavy boots when using the construction equipment, blocks to catch the car if the floor jack takes a holiday….. its all the same thinking.

      Do I obsess about any of it? Actuallyk no. I hate wearing/using almost all of that equipment. Yes, I’d far rather not even carry my handgun. Or any of the ther nuisance “stuff”. But wisdom… there is a verse in the Bible that says “a wise man sees trouble (danger of any sort) and hides (protrects) himself from it. Grinders can fling chunks of metal and stone just about anywhere Wise enough to now this I “hide” myself from such things.. hiding behind a piece of glass or plastic made for that purpose.

      carry spare tubes and tyres when out on the road bike, and tools to fix most things. Wear a helmet… needed it just a little bit one time.

      • Tionico,

        I’m sure you have fire extinguishers, as well. Around my neck, I wear a spare car key. I have only ever locked my keys in my car twice (been driving since 1980), but if it happens again, I am ready. Funny thing is, when you wear a key around your neck, you never lock your keys in your car. It’s as though it is a charm against Murphy’s Law. Also, I taught myself to touch my car key in my pocket BEFORE I lock the doors, or even shut them.

    • Good for you! While I don’t carry it on my person, I now have an emergency medical kit in my car complete with a proper combat tourniquet. Given that I am either at the hospital, at home or in my car 99% of the time I feel this is adequate. I hope and pray that I am not ever proven wrong.

    • Friend TJ, you know, tourniquets are usually necessary only to stop arterial bleeding, when two tourniquets are sometimes needed. Some very compact, packaged ones can be found. Effective ones can also be improvised. I even carry one for an “extra” that was made in WWII that is still like new, that I got at a gun show for almost nothing. Packaged pressure bandages are usually appropriate for staunching vein-related injuries. Blood-clotting chemical packages need to be protected from severe heat to keep them most usable. I have been working harder lately on long-range pistol accuracy, with first-shot advantage to be taken when justifiable. I love my redone Ruger EC9s. Ruger is a great company!

    • PNW as well, as is my youngest and his family. We exercise preparedness daily, but are always listening to others for knowledge and advice. Stay sharp, always carry when allowed.

  3. Sadly something like this could happen here while hiking and you stumble across someone’s MJ plot.

    Even on short, local day hikes I remain armed. In my neck of the woods, you never know when you could stumble across a black bear. My children deserve nothing less.

    • So true. I can’t tell you how many times I see people who aren’t prepared for anything, I’m sure you have too, and it can be in places where people aren’t thinking things through very well.

      We were at the Grand Canyon on Thanksgiving Day, taking a shuttle bus on the South Rim on one of the routes that you can’t drive yourself except 2-3 months in the winter when no one visits. It was extremely crowded that day all over the area, there weren’t as many bus drivers because it was a holiday. People were stranded at the stops for who know how long because there weren’t enough busses and the ones that were running were constantly filled up with riders. We had gotten on our bus at the very last stop (the buses there were empty, which is what I had planned for because I knew going back would be a mess, because of the time of day). Our bus filled up but the driver had to hit all the other stops on the way back in and tell everyone we were full. I remember people at the stops being justifiably angry for waiting for at least an hour for a bus. Some were yelling at our driver. The sun was setting, it was chilly, they were miles from Grand Canyon Village. Theoretically, they could have walked back on the road but it would have taken a very long time. Not sure how long it took to get everyone out there back to the village. But geez, there were many people who clearly did not realize that, despite there being a bus stop, they were in the wild and woefully unprepared for any emergency situation – clothing, food, supplies, etc.

  4. Preparedness extends to other areas too. For me the watershed event was the blizzard of ’78. Ever since then I have kept a sleeping bag (and now a get home bag) in my car during the winter months.

    • I may have been little then but I still remember it because the highway was completely closed and the snow had drifted to completely block our front door and windows.

  5. Hi Mas, I too saw that movie a couple of months back on TV. You are correct about the old but valued statement, ‘better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it’. This rings true for just about anything, not just firearms. Cash, food, water, shelter, transportation. I’m not a hard core Prepper, but I have good reserves, of all of the above, that I can access if needed. If someone considers me to be a crackpot of some sort for ensuring me and mine can survive, that would be their problem not mine, and if the circumstances do turn ugly, it will be them in need, not me. Also, noting the current decline of civilized decorum happening here in north America, being prepared, makes more sense than ever before. Unfortunately, I don’t see things improving in the next decade or so either. So, prepared, but never really ready, as we never know what we must be ready for, until it slaps us upside the face.

  6. Another really nasty one is Open Season (1974) with Peter Fonda as an amoral predator who, along with 2 others, terrorize and kill unsuspecting people out in the woods.

  7. Didn’t Gen Billy Mitchell predict a Japanese naval air attack on Pearl Harbor back in the 1920’s? This was before he was drummed out of the Army for speaking the truth and being a man ahead of his time.
    Wasn’t this “sneak” attack scenario anticipated and planned for by the US military in the 1930’s?
    Didn’t we have the Japanese navy’s codes long before 1941? Didn’t the Brits warn us of the impending attack days beforehand?
    Who were the great beneficiaries of the US entering the war? Hint…they both had been or were “Lords” of their countries’ navies before becoming heads of state.

    • Yup.They sent Mitchell packing, thinking him a fool. Funny thing, they named a new bomber after him, I believe it was the B 25 Mitchell. SOME folks remembered him. And gave him what honour they could. From what I understand that was quite the machine….. performed well.

      • The North American B-25 Mitchell was the best medium bomber of WW II. It’s such a stable aircraft that some are still used by movie companies for aerial filming. The B-25H model with a 75mm nosed mounted cannon and up to 14 forward firing .50 caliber Browning machine guns was especially devastating against Japanese cargo and transport ships.

    • Friend Bill Wright, lately more has come out that we had broken the Japanese code. Their attack fleet observed complete radio silence to hide their position, while the rest of their Navy carried on so as to complete the ruse. No surveillance is as good as “eyes on.” A lot of historical literature since has many people throughout the Pacific giving notice to some of our intelligence people that an attack was imminent.

  8. I’m reminded of a great Ayoob Files from many years ago…if I remember correctly, the Japanese decision against an attempt to occupy Hawaii was based, at least in part, on the residents’ possession of, & probable proficiency with, firearms. Same theme.

  9. Not quite unprepared, but woefully underprepared: A guy I used to work with sold a .25 ACP caliber pistol to another guy I worked with. Why? He fished a lot and wanted some protection against bears! In another case, someone recently told me about their daughter having someone high on who-knows-what make easy entry into her house one day. When I was told how it happened, I looked at them like they had two heads. Despite the rise in crime, the daughter doesn’t and never has locked any of her doors!

    • Friend David+L+Chute, you and I would pick a much heavier caliber for self-protection from bears, but we should recall at least one incident in Anchorage, Alaska, where a resident gave a finishing shot with a .25 ACP to an injured brown bear. The centerfire .25 ACP has traditionally been considered of more reliable ignition than the average .22 caliber, and was often used by trappers in days of yore, but admittedly not normally for protection. Lots of reasons may obtain why some people think that either bad things only happen to other people, or simply that “stuff happens” unavoidably. How else would some movies go on for more than a couple of minutes before threats were neutralized?

    • David+L+Chute,

      Leaving your house doors unlocked sure is dumb, but I live where people can get away with it. It is a “safe” area. Living this way leads to complacency and carelessness. People think bad crimes can’t happen to them. It’s wonderful that the police keep crime away, but it dumbs people down.

      I read where cars whose owners lived half an hour from New York City were parked with the doors unlocked AND THE KEY OR FOB IN THE CAR! Those cars were easily stolen. This proves that you can be rich and stupid at the same time. Rich people voting for democrats also proves that you can be rich and stupid.

    • I had read in an old issue of Guns & Ammo magazine that many Eskimo hunters liked to use the .22 Hornet cartridge for stalking polar bears. I’m not sure how well this worked as the guys who this caliber failed were probably never seen again.

  10. Another good survival in the African bush is PREY (2007) starring a different supermodel, in this case Bridget Moynahan who’s not as famous as Rebecca Romijn in the modeling world, but she did play John Wick’s deceased wife.

    When I lived in Colorado, I had a Ruger Redhawk with 5 1/2″ barrel in .44 Magnum loaded with Winchester Silvertip ammo in the center console of my Dodge Ramcharger and a 12 gauge Remington 870, and Springfield Armory M1A, both with extra ammo behind the rear seat under a blanket. When on camping trips, I added a Ruger M77 rifle in .458 Winchester with 500 grain SP ammo and swapped out Silvertips for Keith Loads in my Redhawk for possible encounters with grizzlies. Fortunately, nothing bad ever happened, but if it did, I was prepared. I would be out of luck if attacked by Bigfoot or his larger and meaner cousin Janet Reno. 🙂

  11. After my wife and I married, it took some time to convince her that preparation did not equal paranoia. Always lock your house & car doors, pay attention to what is going on around you, and having a gun & knowing how to use it does not make you a nut. On two occasions, we were both glad that she changed her outlook. On one, the teenage gang banger that tried to yank open her locked car door yelled that “she was one lucky lady.” He didn’t see the 38 that was pointed at him & realize how lucky HE was. Wishful thinking & denial are not successful strategies for dealing with life’s unpleasantness.

  12. When I was serving on active duty in the U.S. Army many decades ago, I was assigned to mentor a foreign army’s officer throughout the six months duration of a special training course. This officer was a native of a small rural village in what is now the nation of South Sudan.

    During one memorable conversation, my soon to be lifelong South Sudanese friend shared this hilarious, but sage piece of advice:

    “In your country, whenever we go out at night, we are looking for something to eat. In my country, whenever we go out at night, most things are looking to eat us.”

    He used to hum and sing softly this radio ad jingle which he had memorized, “Hurry on down to Hardee’s, where the burgers are charcoal broiled.”

    In the area surrounding the village in which he had been born, one could plan on encountering the following dangerous wildlife: baboon, black mamba, cape buffalo, cheetah, crocodile, elephant, hippo, hyena, jackal, leopard, lion, python, rhino and wild dog.

    He told me lurid, true tales of careless villagers who failed to be appropriately vigilant about the various threatening animals and reptiles roaming nearby and who thereafter ended up vanishing in the bush, never to be seen again.

    He was a wonderful friend who was taken from our world far too soon in January 2014 at the age of 59 by a merciless blood cancer. Just before his untimely death, he communicated to me that he was confident that he would encounter the best possible hunting grounds up in Heaven. I know that is exactly what he found. He feared death not at all. He looked forward with excitement to his new life on high.

    I would have followed him without hesitation into battle anywhere at anytime. The compelling, stark lessons that he taught me about preparedness and vigilance are unforgettable to this day. I am passing them down with pride to my two adult children and to my four grandsons.

  13. I walk past the grave of the very first casualty of the Pearl Harbour attack at least once or twice per week these days. I also do alot of kayaking, hiking, and cycling so I live (or literally die) by the hierarchy of mindset, tactics, skill, then optimized equipment but darned if Murphy isn’t always watching & I’ve had my fair share of absentmindedness. Preflight checklists and competent company are always good redundancies as well. After many years of experiences, lived and observed, I seem to have developed a belief in luck and fate these days, which just makes me feel old…

  14. Bill Wright wrote:
    ‘Who were the great beneficiaries of the US entering the war? Hint…they both had been or were “Lords” of their countries’ navies before becoming heads of state.’

    Whew that was close! I thought we were going to have a thread without someone blaming it all on the democrats.
    Bit puzzled though: when did Churchill become king?

  15. T Tomasi wrote:
    ‘From the movie poster pictured, my guess is that the daughter and her boyfriend don’t last very long.’
    The blonde usually survives. Hence the in-joke in the Scream films; both the unkillable girls have black hair.

  16. Mas,

    An interesting parallel conclusion.
    Both incidents, while vastly different, have commonalities not usually focused on.

    I don’t live in the PNW but have lived in places where emergency response times are measured in half hour blocks. When you have to be your own 911 you tend to keep, or at least I do, the baling wire and chewing gum handy.

    My vehicle holds a med kit, sleeping bag for inclement weather where I can’t move the vehicle, fire starter, firearm(s), water and various other odds and ends.

    I may not have everything but I feel pretty prepared for what I may run in to here.

  17. There is however another lesson from Pearl Harbor which also should be understood: preparedness has costs.

    The CNO sent out a message on 27 November that Japanese military action was expected imminently: “THIS IS A WAR WARNING…” In the words of one veteran of the time: “the brass [in Hawaii] went nuts”. The forces there were put on high alert, with positions manned 24×7, extra patrols, and frequent drills. Nothing had happened by 7 December, and personnel were becoming exhausted and equipment breaking down from continual use. So “the brass” decided to stand down for few days over the weekend…

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