“To the Memory of the Gallant Men Here Entombed and their shipmates who gave their lives in action on December 7, 1941, on the U.S.S. Arizona”
Grave Sites – USS Arizona – Bio
The USS Arizona Memorial
Dedicated May, 30 1962 (Memorial Day) – Present
Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, Hawaii
Grave Sites – USS Arizona – Bombing
The “USS Arizona” was a Pennsylvania-class battleship built for the United States Navy in the mid-1910s.
It was named in honor of the 48th state’s (Arizona’s) recent admission into the union, the ship was the second and last of the Pennsylvania class of “super-dreadnought” battleships.
Shortly before 08:00 local time on December 7, 1941, Japanese aircraft from six aircraft carriers struck the Pacific Fleet as it lay in port at Pearl Harbor, and wrought devastation on the battle line and on the facilities defending Hawaii.
Shortly after 08:00, the ship was attacked by 10 Nakajima B5N “Kate” torpedo bombers, five each from the carriers Kaga and Hiryū.
All of the B5Ns were carrying 410-millimeter (16.1 in) armor-piercing shells modified into 797-kilogram (1,760 lb) aircraft bombs.
Flying at an estimated altitude of 3,000 meters (9,800 ft), Kaga’s aircraft bombed from amidships to the ship’s stern and were followed shortly afterward by Hiryu’s bombers which bombed the bow area.
The bombers scored four hits and three near misses on and around Arizona.
The sternmost bomb ricocheted off the face of Turret IV and penetrated the deck to detonate in the captain’s pantry, causing a small fire.
The next forwardmost hit was near the port edge of the ship, abreast the mainmast, probably detonating in the area of the anti-torpedo bulkhead.
The next bomb struck near the port rear 5-inch AA gun.
The last bomb hit at 08:06 in the vicinity of Turret II, likely penetrating the armored deck near the ammunition magazines located in the forward section of the ship.
While not enough of the ship is intact to judge the exact location, its effects are indisputable.
About seven seconds after the hit, the forward magazines detonated in a cataclysmic explosion, mostly venting through the sides of the ship and destroying much of the interior structure of the forward part of the ship.
This caused the forward turrets and conning tower to collapse downward some 25–30 feet (7.6–9.1 m) and the foremast and funnel to collapse forward.
The explosion killed 1,177 of the 1,400 crewmen on board at the time, almost half of the lives lost during the attack.
It touched off fierce fires that burned for two days; debris showered down on Ford Island in the vicinity.
Grave Sites – USS Arizona – Memorial
The USS Arizona Memorial marks the resting place of 1,102 of the 1,177 sailors killed on the USS Arizona during the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 by Japanese imperial forces and commemorates the events of that day.
The attack on Pearl Harbor and the island of Oʻahu was the action that led to United States involvement in World War II.
The national memorial was designed by Honolulu architect Alfred Preis who had been detained at Sand Island at the start of the war as an enemy of the country because of his Austrian birth.
The design of the national memorial was specified by the United States Navy so that the memorial be in the form of a bridge floating above the ship and accommodating 200 people.
The 184-foot long structure has two peaks at each end connected by a sag in the center of the structure.
It represents the height of American pride before the war, the sudden depression of a nation after the attack and the rise of American power to new heights after the war.
Alfred Preis has explained the architecture and design of the USS Arizona Memorial.
Preis has stated that “[w]herein the structure sags in the center but stands strong and vigorous at the ends, expresses initial defeat and ultimate victory.
The overall effect is one of serenity.
Overtones of sadness have been omitted to permit the individual to contemplate his own personal responses … his innermost feelings.”
Grave Sites – USS Arizona – Plaque
A bronze plaque commemorates the loss of the USS Arizona Battleship at quary Fox no. 7 on the morning of December 7th, 1941 during the opening moments of the Japanese attack.
The inscription on this plaque reads, “[a]t 0755, 7 December 1941, near this spot at Berth Fox 7, The USS Arizona was hit by one torpedo and approximately seven bombs. One bomb went down the stack and another penetrated the black powder magazines.
The sunken ship remains the tomb of nine hundred men. The USS Vestal was moored alongside the Arizona but got underway and was beached on Aiea Shoal after having been struck by two fifteen inch armor-piercing projectile type bombs.”
In the background the USS Arizona memorial spans the sunken hulk of the gallant ship where lie entombed more than 1100 of her fallen crew.
Grave Sites – USS Arizona – Wall
The shrine at the far end of the Memorial is a marble wall that bears the names of all those killed on the Arizona, protected behind velvet ropes.
The inscription on the Memorial Wall reads, “To the memory of the gallant men here entombed and their shipmates who gave their lives in action on December 7, 1941 on the USS Arizona.”
To the left of the main wall is a small plaque which bears the names of thirty or so crew members who survived the 1941 sinking and chose prior to their death, or whose family chose after their death, to have a canister containing their ashes interred within the wreck by US Navy divers.
Any surviving crew members of the Arizona (or their families on their behalf) can elect to have their ashes interred within the wreck.
Grave Sites – USS Arizona – “Tears”
Oil leaking from the sunken battleship can still be seen rising from the wreckage to the surface of the water.
This oil is sometimes referred to as “the tears of the Arizona”or “black tears.”
In a National Geographic Magazine feature published in 2001, concerns were expressed that the continued deterioration of the Arizona’s bulkheads and oil tanks from saltwater corrosion could pose a significant environmental threat from a rupture, resulting in a significant release of oil.
The National Park Service states that it has an ongoing program closely monitoring the condition of the submerged vessel.
Grave Sites – USS Arizona – Infamy Speech
The Presidential Address to Congress of December 8, 1941, known as the Infamy Speech or Day of Infamy Speech, was delivered at 12:30 p.m. to a Joint Session of Congress by United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt, one day after the Empire of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor Naval Base, Hawaii.
The name derives from the first line of the speech: Roosevelt describing the previous day as “a date which will live in infamy”.
Within an hour of the speech, Congress passed a formal declaration of war against Japan and officially brought the U.S. into World War II.
The address is regarded as one of the most famous American political speeches of the 20th century.
Grave Sites – USS Arizona – Anniversary
Today, December 7, 2016 is the 75th anniversary of the “date which will live in infamy.”
As the generation of Pearl Harbor Survivors, WWII veterans, and home front civilians pass away, the stakeholders of Word War II history pass on to the next generation the hope and promise to remember the events that changed their lives and the course of history.
As the USS Arizona Memorial is Oahu’s biggest tourist destination with 1.5 million visitors a year, it does not appear that this hope and promise is fading in any way.