Caddies recall false alarm ‘missile alert’ during 2018 Sony Open

Justin York
Caddie Justin York with Chez Reavie. Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

Justin York, caddie for Chez Reavie, who finished T18 at the Sony Open:

I don’t quite remember the time when the alert hit. I was sitting in my room with my roommate, Mike, watching TV and talking on the phone with a friend about the upcoming NFL playoff games on Saturday morning.

Shortly after hanging up my phone call, I believe Mike got the alert first on his phone with an usual sound. As he is reading the ballistic inbound missile threat, my phone receives the alert seconds later.

At first, I thought it was a joke and kind of chuckled. Then a very quiet reality hit me like in the movies. All sound for a few seconds was washed out by the sound of my heartbeat. My friend, who I was just talking to, immediately calls back. When I answered the call, he says to me, “what the f**k?” about 3-4 times over and over.

In that moment, I realized that it was not a joke… at least for now.

I then sent a screenshot of the alert to my wife, letting her know what was going on. She’s the Google-type and immediately looked it up. I don’t remember exactly what she found because this was all only minutes after the alert, but she called me and relayed her findings.

It was something along the lines of, “this is not a mistake and to take the proper precautions.” I began discussing this with my roommate and we shortly determined that if we were in fact going to perish by a missile, then we were at least in good company.

My wife called me back a few minutes later after texting this to a friend of hers that is from Honolulu but now lives in Phoenix. The friend then contacted her dad, who is a retired police officer in Oahu, and he investigated the alert.

I guess after a quick phone call by him, he found out that it was just a mistake and that there was nothing to be alarmed about. Once this got relayed back to me, an unsettling sigh of relief came over me. I then relayed the news to my roommate and friend I had been talking with earlier.

That friend, of course, was also on the island of Oahu. It seemed to diffuse the tension only minimally because we didn’t know officially that we were in the clear. I don’t remember how long until we got the official message that this was just a mistake by the Hawaiian government, but it was very nerve-racking until that point.

In the back of my mind, I thought about this on the course the whole day as did everybody, I’m sure. It was a very scary day to say the least, but we seemed to manage our emotions – well, at least on the surface we did. I’d been skydiving twice before that day, but I’ve never been that nervous in my life.

It made me think of all the people living on the other side of the world where this is a daily occurrence. It’s a frightening feeling thinking that you are going to die, if only for 30 minutes.

It makes a person put things in perspective real quick.

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