The Relics of the USS Arizona

August 31, 2017

At approximately 0800 on December 7th, 1941, a fleet of Japanese fighters and bombers from the Imperial Japanese Navy flew into Pearl Harbor’s airspace and launched a devastating assault on the battleships moored along Battleship Row.

Though six of the eight vessels survived the attack and later returned to the war, the USS Arizona, along with the USS Oklahoma, was lost, destroyed by four bombs including one that detonated her forward powder magazine. The ship exploded into a fireball and split in two, sinking almost immediately and taking 1,177 of her crew down with her. In the clean-up efforts that came after, salvage crews deemed the Arizona too damaged to be raised, and so she was left where she sat, a watery grave for the men entombed inside.

Pearl Harbor isn't the only place where pieces of the Arizona story rest, however. Parts of the vessel that were salvaged from the wreckage have been dispersed throughout the state of Arizona to serve as monuments and remembrances to the tragic loss felt on that distant Sunday morning. From Phoenix to Tuscon, artifacts saved from the depths of the harbor pay tribute to the brave men lost during the surprise attack.

Glendale Veterans Memorial, Glendale, AZ

Glendale Veterans Memorial

Maybe not the most conventional pieces of the ship used to honor the Arizona crew, the Glendale Veterans Memorial incorporates a potato locker from the battleship to pay tribute to the ship and her crew. Rings from the Arizona's mast were also used to complete this quirky, yet powerful monument.

University of Arizona Student Union Memorial Center

After every University of Arizona home football victory, a bell rings from the bell tower at the Student Union Memorial Center. That bell, over 1,820-pounds of history, is one of two that were rescued from the wreckage of the USS Arizona. The second bell remains in Pearl Harbor as part of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument.

Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza

Part of the Legislative Mall in Phoenix, the Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza houses three different pieces of the Arizona. Perhaps the most striking is the 26’-tall upper portion of the signal mast, from which flies a series of flags that make it impossible to miss.

The 16,000-lb anchor sits atop a pedestal with engraved plaques featuring the names of the USS Arizona crew, while a restored 14-inch gun barrel sits nearby on the grounds of the plaza, directly behind the signal mast.

Arizona State Capitol Museum

Coffee urn from the USS Arizona silver service

The Arizona State Capitol Museum is home to a 500-lb piece of the ship’s superstructure, showing signs of damage and rust. Hanging on a wall of the museum is an American flag salvaged from the Arizona. The tattered and dirty fabric once flew high above the battleship and somehow survived the fiery destruction of the vessel. Also on display is an impressive silver service donated to the battleship by the people of Arizona in 1916.

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