The Overlooked Memorials of Pearl Harbor
The World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument at Pearl Harbor, on the southern the coast of Oahu, is the go-to source for information and exhibits regarding the surprise attack on December 7th, 1941. Just before 0800, Japanese fighters flew into Hawaiian airspace and launched a full-scale attack on the harbor, destroying dozens of aircraft and crippling several battleships moored there. During that devastating morning, the USS Arizona was destroyed and sank to the bottom of the harbor. Today, the underwater wreckage serves as the focus of the USS Arizona Memorial, located directly above.
Not far from that memorial stands the Battleship Missouri, the ship where Japan officially surrendered to the Allies. On the deck of the "Mighty Mo," officials from each nation lined up to witness the official end of World War II. Today, guests can see this iconic spot, as well as other parts of the vessel.
The Arizona and the Missouri weren’t the only Pearl Harbor vessels worth commemorating and, believe it or not, they aren’t the only ones with memorials. Though they tend to get the bulk of the attention, there are other memorials at Pearl Harbor that tend to get overlooked due to their location.
There are two additional memorials on Ford Island worth recognizing for their sacrifices in the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The USS Oklahoma Memorial
On the eastern edge of Ford Island, just to the left of the Battleship Missouri, is where you’ll find the memorial to the men of the USS Oklahoma. As a result of the attacks, the Oklahoma suffered over 420 casualties, the second-highest number of crewmen lost that day. Five years after the vessel sank at Pearl Harbor, she was finally raised and sold for scrap, but during her final voyage in May of 1947, the ships towing her lost the mighty battleship to the bottom of the Pacific.
For 60 years after the war, the story of the Oklahoma was shared by survivors of the attack, but a memorial to commemorate the fallen crew had yet to be erected. Finally, in 2000, the USS Oklahoma survivors got together with the Pearl Harbor Committee to commission the USS Oklahoma Memorial. By 2006, it was recognized as a national memorial, taken care of by the National Park Service.
The memorial sits on Ford Island, forever there to honor the 429 servicemen who were lost.
The USS Utah Memorial
While much of Pearl Harbor is open to the public, the memorial for the sunken USS Utah is open to military personnel only. On the west side of Ford Island, visitors to the USS Utah Memorial are required to possess valid military ID, but that’s not to say the history of the Utah is to remain shrouded and hidden.
Though the public isn't able to visit the Utah Memorial, the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument at Pearl Harbor encompasses all of the sites there, including the Utah. Though the ship and memorial themselves are on Ford Island’s western coast, the story of the Utah and her crew will always be remembered.