After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Adam and his mom are forced to evacuate Hawaii and move to California. Adam's father, Lt. Emory Pelko, was stationed onboard the USS Arizona, one of the ships destroyed during the Pearl Harbor attack. Adam was forced to witness firsthand the sight of the ship's explosion and subsequent sinking, not knowing for sure whether his father was onboard at the time. A week later, Lt. Pelko is officially declared missing in action.
As Hawaii is no longer deemed safe, Adam's mom decides that they must find safety in California. Adam's reluctant to go; Hawaii is his home, and he wants to stay behind and find out exactly what happened to his father. But Adam's already experienced enough danger to last him a lifetime, what with being fired at by Japanese planes and pulling injured men out of the water and rowing them to shore.