What do Arizona, Oklahoma, And Utah Have In Common?

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.

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4 Responses to What do Arizona, Oklahoma, And Utah Have In Common?

  1. Elyse says:

    Thanks for helping me remember. I thought of it a couple of times today, but not often enough. And while I only had it on in the background, I didn’t hear anything on Pearl Harbor Day on the news. How soon we forget.

    • I don’t recall seeing anything on the NBC Evening News, but would you believe that the BBC had a story? They spoke with the oldest survivor, and as he spoke, they showed film clips and photos of both the attack and the aftermath. The very first shot of crude crosses marking hastily covered graves showed a cross for an unknown sailor from the USS Utah! (Yes, I’ll admit I got a bit weepy.) History Channel had a so-so show on last night, a lot of voyeuristic crap about FDR and the politicians, interspersed with photos and text on screen that was heartbreaking, including showing the hasty mass burials of dead sailors attended by only a handful of people. I was so grateful a few months ago, to hear that the military was disinterring mass graves, identifying the remains as best they could via DNA, and individually re-interring the remains with full military honours. They’re handling the USS Oklahoma casualties right now, but I understand they plan on taking care of others, including from USS West Virginia and USS California, as well as smaller ships such as the unfortunate USS Shaw, whose bows were blown to pieces across a square MILE of area! (She went on to fight in WW2 and earned several battle honours, as did many of the casualties of Pearl Harbor.)

      And wow, did I just go off on a massive babble fest on THAT reply. 😯

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