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Frank Tremaine, 92; wire reporter sent Pearl Harbor news flash

December 24, 2006|Claire Noland | Times Staff Writer

Frank Tremaine, a Honolulu-based correspondent for United Press who filed one of the first news bulletins when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, died on the attack's 65th anniversary. He was 92.

Tremaine died at an assisted living facility in Savannah, Ga., according to Val Prescott at the Fox and Weeks Funeral Home in Savannah. No cause of death was announced.

The Pacific bureau manager for United Press, Tremaine dictated a news flash cable reporting the air attacks on U.S. military bases in Hawaii, which he and his wife, Kay, could see from their hillside home in Honolulu.

"I am probably the only correspondent who covered the first war stories stark naked," Tremaine told a gathering of war correspondents in Washington, D.C., in 1995. "I popped out of bed, went to the window, then the phone."

He filed a series of dispatches that Sunday morning and went on to cover the South Pacific during World War II, while Kay worked as an Army cryptographer and then as a newspaper reporter in Honolulu.

In 1945, he reopened United Press' bureau in Tokyo after covering the Japanese surrender from his perch on a gun turret on the battleship Missouri. He was later posted to Mexico and Central America and spent some time as United Press' Los Angeles bureau chief before returning to Tokyo during the Korean War.

In 1952, Tremaine was called to company headquarters in New York, where six years later United Press merged with the International News Service to form UPI. He became an executive with UPI, retiring as senior vice president in 1980 after 44 years with the news service.

Tremaine was born in Detroit on May 30, 1914, and as a child moved to Pasadena with his widowed mother, two sisters and grandmother. He graduated from Stanford University in 1936 and three years later married the former Katherine Newland, whom he had met at Longfellow Elementary School in Pasadena.

He started his journalism career as a campus correspondent for United Press and after graduation took assignments in Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Francisco and New York before moving to Hawaii in 1940.

After retiring, Tremaine and his wife divided their time between Maine and Savannah, where he taught communications at Savannah State University. The couple wrote a book in 1997, "The Attack on Pearl Harbor: By Two Who Were There."

Tremaine is survived by his wife and two children, Nancy Tremaine, who was born in Honolulu, and Frank G. "Pancho" Tremaine, who was born in Mexico.

claire.noland@latimes.com

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