|Oscar van der Kirk|
| Days of Infamy |
POD: March, 1941;
Relevant POD: December 7, 1941
|Type of Appearance:||Direct POV|
|Date of Birth:||c. 1913|
|Occupation:||Surfer, Surf Instructor, Inventor|
|Parents:||Bill and Enid van der Kirk|
|Spouse:||Susie Higgins (fiance)|
|Relatives:||Roger van der Kirk (brother)|
Oscar van der Kirk (b. c. 1913) was a Stanford University graduate, a California native, surfer and social dropout in living in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1941. His family had sent him to the islands as a graduation present. There, van der Kirk had fallen in love with surfing. He soon became very skilled at it, and earned a living teaching tourists.
Van der Kirk and his friend Charlie Kaapu were surfing at Waimea Bay the morning of December 7, 1941. They saw Japanese planes in the air, but believed them to be American. Within almost no time, he and Kaapu found themselves caught in a crossfire between invading Japanese troopships and American machineguns on the beach. Both men escaped without injury, and headed back to the city.
Lacking a better idea, van der Kirk continued to give surfing lessons through the remainder of 1941, despite the encroaching Japanese army. Shortly before Christmas, he gave a lesson to tourist Susie Higgins, a recent divorcee. After a the lesson, Susie invited van der Kirk back to her room. In the midst of coitus, the Japanese launched a bombing run on the city. Van der Kirk suggested that they leave the room, saving both of their lives as the hotel was squarely hit. Van der Kirk invited Higgins to stay with him. That relationship soured rather quickly, as Higgins couldn't stand van der Kirk's obsession with surfing. She left after the New Year.
For his own part, van der Kirk soon realized he would have to fend for himself. He took up fishing from his surfboard. Then he hit on the idea of putting a sail on his board, effectively inventing the "sailboard". Unfortunately, van der Kirk couldn't patent his idea, and sailboards appeared all over the island in short order.
Some months into 1942, van der Kirk crossed paths with Higgins again. They took their relationship back up, although on far more friendly terms this time. Eventually, the relationship blossomed into a more substantive and loving one.
In the summer of 1942, van der Kirk was surprised when, on a fishing expedition, an American submarine, the USS Amberjack, surfaced next to him. The commander of the sub, Woody Kelley, asked van der Kirk some questions about the situation under Japanese rule. Van der Kirk requested that Kelly get a message to his family and to Susie's that both were fine.
In mid 1943, van der Kirk was disturbed to learn that Kaapu had been arrested by the Kempeitai, the Japanese secret police. When he made some inquiries in his friend's final fate, he himself was threatened with arrest unless he let it go. However, Kaapu, who'd been sent to a prison camp, escaped as the USA's invasion fleet began its arrival. Van der Kirk hid Kaapu, although it did put a strain on the limited resources he and Susie Higgins had.
When US Marines landed on Oahu, the Japanese began stiff resistance, often fighting from house-to-house and block-to-block. In the fighting, Oscar's home was destroyed, but he, Susie, and Kaapu escaped unharmed. In the chaos, van der Kirk asked Susie to marry him, and she accepted.