As US battleships, they were all lost 74 years ago today. Yes, it’s Pearl Harbor Day, that day of infamy when the US Pacific fleet was bombed at its’ anchorage in Pearl Horbor, Hawaii. Through a lucky chance, the three aircraft carriers that would stop the Japanese advance through the Pacific were not in port and thus survived, as did the vast fuel oil reserves that the Japanese ignored, much to their later peril.
Ironically, it was the mighty battleships that suffered the worst fates. Cruisers, destroyers, and auxiliary ships were hit but none sunk. Most of the casualties came from the two battleships Arizona and Oklahoma, and the poor forgotten naval gunnery training ship Utah (who, numbered as AG-17, still continued to bear her commissioned name from her days as a WW1 battleship). The Army Air Corps suffered losses as well, over 200 aircraft and dozens of crews. Even civilian aircraft were not safe – three were shot down by Japanese fighters. Yet the United States’ great manufacturing capability would make these losses good – and then some – in less than 16 months.
So remember, remember, the Seventh of December. Remember the day that pushed the US from (technically) neutrality into war. Remember all those lost on that infamous day. And, as a favor to me, remember poor Utah, decommissioned by treaties from her status as a battleship to a gunnery school, robbed of her mighty guns yet still serving her country proudly. And know that even 74 years later, men from a mass grave of those lost on the Oklahoma are being identified and individually interred in proper single graves. A final farewell to brave souls lost, but never forgotten.