Paul Goodyear, left, a survivor of the USS Oklahoma, spoke at a Tuesday news conference in Oklahoma City. Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry, right, presented Goodyear with a $100,000 check from the Oklahoma Centennial Commission to go toward building a USS Oklahoma memorial in Hawaii.
Dec. 7 groundbreaking set for USS Oklahoma memorial
OKLAHOMA CITY » Almost 65 years after surviving Japanese torpedoes that scuttled the mighty battleship USS Oklahoma and sent it to the muddy bottom of Pearl Harbor, Paul Goodyear on Tueday accepted $100,000 from Oklahomans for a memorial to the 429 shipmates who died.
"I think if you will all listen in your heart, every Oklahoman will listen in their hearts, they will hear 429 thank-yous," Goodyear, 88, said during a ceremony where Gov. Brad Henry presented a check of privately raised funds to help pay for a memorial to the Marines and sailors killed aboard the USS Oklahoma on Dec. 7, 1941.
Goodyear, of Casa Grande, Ariz., plans to speak on behalf of survivors at groundbreaking ceremonies at Pearl Harbor for a permanent memorial to those who died aboard the ship on Dec. 7 -- the 65th anniversary of the attack that heralded the United States' entry into World War II.
"We've waited a long time and there's not many of us left," Goodyear said.
Lisa Ridge, a sixth-grade teacher from Sullivan, Ind., and the granddaughter of a victim of the attack, Petty Officer Paul Andrews Nash, a fire controlman first class aboard the USS Oklahoma, also will attend with her husband to speak on behalf of families of the casualties.
"It really wasn't until junior high, when we studied the war in the eighth grade, that I understood what had happened to my grandfather," Ridge said. "I just felt so sad for my mom to think that she was such a little girl when she lost her dad."
Ridge, whose mother was just 6 years old when her father was killed, displayed one of her grandfather's white dress uniform jackets during the ceremony. Goodyear explained that the insignia on the jacket indicated he was responsible for firing the battleship's 14-inch guns. Goodyear, who was on watch during the attack and dove from the ship as it overturned, said the jacket also revealed that Nash had reached first-class petty officer status -- a high rank for a 26-year-old seaman.
"He had to be pretty exceptional," Goodyear said.
The Oklahoma was refloated in 1943 and sold for scrap after the war, but sank while being towed to California.