About Memorial To USS Oklahoma Breaks Ground
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Memorial To USS Oklahoma Breaks Ground info
December 8, 2006
A monument near where the ship sank creates a focal point
By Audrey McAvoy, Associated Press
FIFTEEN USS Oklahoma survivors plunged shovels into the dirt at Pearl Harbor yesterday to break ground on a memorial to the 429 servicemen who died on board the battleship 65 years ago.
A black stone memorial, to be built on a grassy spot on Pearl Harbor's Ford Island, will feature engraved sketches of the ship and the names of those killed.
It will sit a few hundred yards away from where the Oklahoma was moored on Dec. 7, 1941, when Japanese planes pummeled it with up to nine torpedoes. The ship capsized in less than 20 minutes as water filled the hull, leaving most of its crew trapped inside.
"I think if you will all listen deep down in your hearts, I think you will hear 429 thank-yous," Paul Goodyear, a USS Oklahoma survivor and champion of the memorial project, told those gathered for the groundbreaking ceremony.
Survivors said they were grateful their fallen shipmates would at last be rightfully honored by a memorial of their own. Even though the Oklahoma suffered the second greatest number of casualties at Pearl Harbor after the USS Arizona, it was the only ship sunk by the Japanese that hasn't had its own memorial.
The memorial will give family members and survivors a set place to pay their respects. Many families have lacked such a spot for decades, given the ship was later salvaged and towed away and the bodies recovered were buried in anonymous graves at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.
Officials hope to dedicate the Oklahoma memorial next year. About $620,000 of the $750,000 needed has been raised.
Lisa Ridge, whose grandfather was killed in the aerial assault, said she was grateful she would at last have a place to pay her respects.
"Now my family, as well as other families, can finally have a place here to remember and honor our family member's memory as service to this great country and the price that so many must pay for the rest of us to be free," Ridge said.
Ridge's grandfather, Petty Office First Class Paul Nash, was a fire controlman first class aboard the USS Oklahoma when he died.