Salute to ship set: Memorial to be dedicated Dec. 7

by: ANGEL RIGGS World Capitol Bureau
12/2/2007 1:48 AM

The 429 Marines and sailors who died on the USS Oklahoma will be listed for the first time.

OKLAHOMA CITY -- When a memorial to the USS Oklahoma is dedicated Friday at Pearl Harbor, it will list for the first time the 429 sailors and Marines who died on the battleship 66 years ago.

"Now the families will at least have a place to go, and it will be a little more significant than an unknown grave," said Paul Goodyear, 89, of Arizona, who was on the Oklahoma during the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

Of those who died on the ship, 380 were buried in one of 46 mass graves on the island, said Goodyear, who was a 23-year-old Navy signalman third class.

On Friday, several survivors and Oklahoma dignitaries -- including Gov. Brad Henry -- will be in Hawaii to dedicate the $1.2 million made-in-Oklahoma memorial.

The USS Oklahoma was hit by several torpedoes and rolled over, trapping crew members inside during the attack. Thirty-two of the trapped men were rescued.

Goodyear was above deck, on the ship's signal bridge.

Roughly 90 survivors of the attack are living across the country, Goodyear said.

He and about 15 other survivors plan to travel to Hawaii this week for the dedication.

Henry said the ceremony is long overdue.

The USS Oklahoma is the only ship destroyed during the attack at Pearl Harbor that does not have a memorial, although the ship sustained the second-highest number of casualties, Henry said.

Survivors of the attack asked Henry about the lack of a memorial a few years ago.

"I was very moved by the survivors, who experienced one of the most unbelievable ordeals in all of American history," Henry said. "They are true patriots."

He said that it is time that all who were on the ship were recognized and honored.

"Though the USS Oklahoma was a federal ship, it is Oklahomans who have come forward to say 'We will honor those who perished and those who survived,' " he said.

The USS Oklahoma memorial will be on Ford Island, which sits in the middle of Pearl Harbor.

It is on the same shore many of the survivors swam to when the ship was hit.

"They are working feverishly in Hawaii to complete the memorial" said state Sen. Jim Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City, who has been working on the memorial project since 2001. "We feel comfortable that it will be polished and shining on Dec. 7."

The memorial will include 429 marble standards placed in four rows, each about 7 feet tall and engraved with the name of a service member who died on the ship.

The rows are bordered with granite markers that list the names included in the respective rows. Other granite markers will feature quotes selected by some of the survivors, Reynolds said.

In the middle stands a pole with a cross arm topped with an American flag, meant to give the memorial the look of a naval ship, he said.

"It gives these 429 something that a lot of them do not have," Reynolds said, "which is a marker that bears their name alone."

Goodyear, who has traveled Oklahoma giving speeches and raising funds for the project, said the state now feels like a second home.

"It means an awful lot to a lot of people," Goodyear said to those who have supported the memorial project.

"I can't thank you enough, but I think if you listen in your hearts you'll hear 429 thank yous."

Angel Riggs (405) 528-2465

Associate Images:

Rescue crews work on the upturned hull of the USS Oklahoma, which capsized in Pearl Harbor after being hit by Japanese warplanes during the Dec. 7, 1941, attack.

The USS Maryland was moored next to the USS Oklahoma along battleship row in Pearl Harbor when Japanese forces attacked. The Maryland survived, but 429 sailors and Marines died when the USS Oklahoma capsized after being struck by several torpedoes.