“38 Minutes Of Sheer Terror”

The alert blared on Anthony Dohanos’ phone a few minutes after 8 a.m.

It was a false alarm. Still, for more than half an  hour Anthony Dohanos — former Westporter, longtime resident of the big island of Hawaii, and son of famed illustrator Stevan Dohanos — had no reason to disbelieve the alert.

Instead, he had every reason to believe he — and everyone else in the state — would die.

“We all said our goodbyes,” he told “06880” this afternoon. He expected the missile — or missiles — to hit within 15 minutes.

It took another 20 minutes or so before the 2nd — and astonishingly more reassuring — message came through.

I spoke with Anthony a few minutes ago. It was 4 hours since the petrifying ordeal. He — and nearly everyone else in Hawaii — was still shaken up.

Another former Westporter — Bill Briggs, 1964 Staples High School graduate who earned fame as the Remains’ keyboardist — is vacationing in Hawaii.

He posted on Facebook:

I’m a little bit of a “prepper.” I says to myself, “We’re screwed!”

No shelters. No civil defense instructions. No nothin’! I had a little bit of extra medication and a really good flashlight but that’s it.

People were freaking out! We kept our cool and figured if it was true we were screwed anyway, so why panic. Incredible degree of ineptitude.

Anthony sent a GIF that’s making its way around Hawaii:

But it may be quite some time before he — and everyone else — can truly relax.

26 responses to ““38 Minutes Of Sheer Terror”

  1. Janette Kinnally

    Truly unbelievable!!! We do not want a war!!! Anyone that has lived through air missle strikes and a war can tell you!!! Devastating! And now thanks to the person who sent that alert/alarm, all of the people on this beautiful island probably have PTSD!

  2. Noel E. Parmentel Jr.

    *With all the world on “tender” hooks, leave it to the matchless Dan WOOG to bring us what famed radio commentator Edwin C. HILL used to call “The HUMAN Side of the News”. Kudos to Dan. 

  3. It was a horrendous human-caused mistake, one to learn from. Personally, I am now reminded to put together an emergency kit before our inevitable Pacific earthquake — an unmistakable natural event.

  4. My, my, Cristina… Verbally challenged AND feisty!

  5. Your solution is beyond the pale, equal to the problem it/himself.

  6. A moment of real scare, no doubt. But given the fact that both the US and Russia have thousands of nukes on hair trigger alert, isn’t long past time the arms control treaty was updated and renewed? Time for the Trumper to show he can actually do something beyond tweeting. Maybe sit down with his new best friend Vladimir and get something real accomplished!

  7. Sharon Paulsen


    I had purposely avoided any nooozzz on TeeVee or iPhone today, desperately needing a break from all the negativity.

    This past week was … pretty rough!

    So, I hadn’t heard about this until now. Then just checked out the WAPO article about it.


  8. We are in Maui having breakfast on our Lanai and received the same alert on cell phones….but no sirens…nothing on TV…I smelled a rat and didn’t take seriously….only TV coverage was on CNN…no local channels had any thing…no warning…no screen crawl…texted my son in broadcasting in Boston…all he knew was a twitter storm…no facts…no confirmation…then 38 minutes later came another alert saying it was a hoax…This will go down with two Tsunami alerts from Chile and Japan earthquakes. Can’t wait to hear which “yo yo” hit the button by mistake. 😎😎

  9. Crowd sourced panic is a frightening thing….we were alone and simply used common sense. 🌴🌴

    • Tom Feeley Sr

      Yo Tom‼️
      Good for you🇺🇸
      Media going NUTS here🌋
      Finding scardie cats to interview😂
      Go out and watch them come in🛸
      Better than buried under rubble☠️
      Have fun😎

      • Hi Tom – my son Evan’s wife Jenny is an invited speaker at an international dermatology conference in Hawai as we speak. She was there and received the alert. For 38 minutes my daughter in law, our son in NYC and god only knows how many others lived in fear or knowing they or their loved one were dying in less than an hour. Everything else doesn’t matter. Who did or didn’t do what they should have done didn’t matter! All the finger pointing didn’t matter.

        Now figure out what happened and don’t let it happen again!

    • Michael Calise

      Fr. Tom for courage!

  10. Your intelligent assignment of blame aside, the false missile alert was due to an employee pressing the wrong button during a shift change – nothing to do with this president or the …hole last president, or the …hole president before that . . .

    My good friends in Hawaii (local Punaho boys who got stoned with the last president) tell me they had a frightening (for some) or incredulous (for others) couple of minutes

  11. If you believe “someone hit a button by mistake,” I got quite a few bridges to sell to you.

  12. I’ve lived in Hawaii for about 18 years, and this kind of screw-up is so typically Hawaiian, as they can’t (won’t ) spend the money to do things the
    right way. Love the weather, hate the system!

  13. Joyce Barnhart

    Is there nothing whatsoever that can be done if a missile is incoming? Could this be a warning to prepare in case of a real event?

    • Don’t you remember those “duck and cover” civil defense drills from the 1950s? Students were told to hide under desks. I’m sure that, in the event of a nuclear strike, that will be VERY effective!

      • Joyce Barnhart

        Maybe reclining in a hammock in the shade of a palm is a nicer way to spend one’s last minutes, but on a snowy day, maybe “duck and cover” is a better choice – though the Hawaiians would have had to be ducking for 38 minutes.

  14. I cannot imagine what happens with the missile or any other serious alert of any kind; earthquake, Kilauea vulcano erupts. Pompei all over again? Broadcast as a test/false when it is in fact the ‘real’ thing!

  15. Joyce Barnhart

    The most recent report I read said the messages, the announcement and the retraction, first went out to cell phones, etc., not through the media. At the very least, they ought to set up the system to thoroughly cover all sources, including radio and television. Then everybody can be alerted – and terrified.