ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE PHOTO
Jerry Tessaro, of Stockton, Calif., examined a torpedo found near the USS Oklahoma after the unveiling ceremony for the USS Oklahoma exhibit at the Arizona Memorial Museum in Pearl Harbor on Dec. 6, 2004. Tessaro was topside at the onset of the attack. A memorial to the Oklahoma's crew was dedicated recently in Oklahoma City.
USS Oklahoma memorial gains funds
Work is set to begin Dec. 7 to honor 429 killed at Pearl Harbor
OKLAHOMA CITY » A final drive is under way for the additional $500,000 needed for a memorial to be built at Pearl Harbor for the 429 sailors and Marines killed when the USS Oklahoma was attacked by the Japanese on Dec. 7, 1941.
The drive already has netted about $250,000, including $100,000 from the Oklahoma Centennial Commission.
The Oklahoma's loss of life was second only to that of the USS Arizona, which also was among the nine ships moored along Battleship Row at Pearl Harbor.
The Arizona Memorial is one of the most heavily visited tourist spots on the island, and a permanent exhibit to the Oklahoma is located at the Arizona facility.
A memorial to the Oklahoma's crew was dedicated recently in Oklahoma City.
The proposed memorial for Pearl Harbor would be close to the spot where the Oklahoma was anchored when hit by Japanese torpedo planes. The exact location now is home to the USS Missouri, which was towed to the spot as a memorial.
"With the support of all Oklahomans, we can finally pay tribute to the men who served so bravely aboard our namesake ship with this lasting memorial," said Oklahoma first lady Kim Henry, who is co-chairwoman of the fund drive. "With the remaining survivors all in their mid-80s, we cannot wait any longer to recognize their service to our country and to honor their fellow shipmates who gave their lives for our freedom."
Mike McAuliffe, a committee member, said the campaign is trying to get pledges by the end of the year so construction can start Dec. 7, the 65th anniversary of the attack. The memorial would be dedicated on Dec. 7, 2007, as an official Oklahoma Centennial event.
The 19,860-pound anchor from the Oklahoma was dedicated in July at its new location in Campbell Park in Oklahoma City. It was relocated there from a location downtown where it had stood for 40 years.
In addition to the anchor, the Oklahoma City memorial features a granite state historical marker engraved with a summary of the ship's life and a 30-foot lighted flagpole.
Japanese torpedoes ripped the Oklahoma's port side stem to stern in the attack. Within 20 minutes the battleship rolled almost completely over, trapping many sailors inside.
When it sank, the Oklahoma was anchored off Ford Island, in the middle of the harbor, next to the USS Maryland. The Oklahoma took the brunt of the torpedoes, leaving the Maryland relatively intact.
The Oklahoma was refloated in 1943 and sold for scrap after the war, but sank in the Pacific while being towed to California.