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05-28-07, 06:56 AM
Memorial dedicated to Marines who served on USS Portland

May 27, 2007

PORTLAND, Maine --A bronze plaque memorializing Marine Corps members who served aboard the cruiser USS Portland during World War II was dedicated Sunday in the Maine city that bears its name.

The ceremony was held at the USS Portland Memorial on Fort Allen Park on the Eastern Promenade. The plaque is an addition to the memorial that includes the cruiser's mainmast and bridge shield, which were rescued from a Florida scrap yard in 1959.

The plaque was a gift from the Seagoing Marines Association, which has placed similar markers on old ships that now serve as musuems.

The 610-foot Portland, equipped with 25 guns, was launched in 1932 in Quincy, Mass.

The memorial honors the ship and her men who were killed in combat. The Portland saw plenty of action in the Pacific, including Guadalcanal, the Philippines and Okinawa, and earned 16 battle stars and the Navy Unit Commendation.

Art Hunt, a Marine veteran from Haverhill, Mass., said the memorial is one of the few monuments of its kind.

"The city of Portland and all Americans should be extremely proud of this ship," Hunt said prior to the ceremony. "The visitors to this rare site should be appreciative of the combined community efforts to preserve these artifacts."

Arthur Forrestall, a Naval Reserve officer and executive with the Portland Lumber Co., was the key figure in the effort to create the monument.

After learning that the ship, which had been damaged in a hurricane, was scheduled to be scrapped, he traveled to Panama City, Fla., to salvage the mast and shield. The parts were transported to Portland on the Maine Maritime Academy's training ship, State of Maine, then reassembled. The monument was dedicated on July 4, 1962.