There were three squadrons of PT Boats in the Navy. Two were on active duty in the Pacific. Squadron 1 had twelve boats in Pearl Harbor and Squadron 3 had six boats in the Philippines. On December 7, 1941, the Japanese invaded Pearl Harbor. Six PTs were alongside the submarine base. The day was warm and peaceful and was a non-working day since it was a Sunday. All of a sudden, the Japanese appeared over Diamond Head and started dropping their bombs. The PT Boat crews acted promptly, shooting their shiny twin-mounted .50 caliber machine guns at the planes. For men who had no real practice shooting down planes in a war, their marksmanship was excellent. They downed a low-flying Japanese torpedo plane and shot down another one minutes later.

The other six boats from Squadron 1 were sitting in Manila Bay days after the Pearl Harbor attack. Again, the Japanese attacked the American Forces. This battle clearly established as a known fact that the PT Boats could out-maneuver dive bombers in daylight. The PT captains would wait until the bomb left the planes bomb bay and then do a sharp 180 degree turn in the water which would make the bomb fall anywhere but on the boat. The PTs shot down at least three dive-bombers. The PTs had succeeded in a mission that was very hard and required nerves of steel from all the crewmembers.

The PT Boats were also needed for other missions, too. They were used to stop all cargo ships going to the Philippines to supply the Japanese living there. These missions were done in the dead of night. Sometimes the PT Boats were used on suicidal missions to rescue a downed pilot in enemy territory with no cover. The PT Boats evacuated General Douglas McArthur from the Philippines after he was forced to flee from the invading Japanese. After the rescue, he wrote a letter to the President asking that the PT Boats would be established as a different part of the Navy and he ordered 200 more PT Boats. Perhaps he liked them because they were like "Indians"; they went around and around their slower target with their guns blazing attacking them any way they could. Whenever called to duty, the PT Boats always made the day for the US Navy.