Most people when they think of the casualties created by the Imperial Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, think of the sailors killed on the USS Arizona. This is understandable considering 1,177 personnel lost their lives when the ship was sunk on that fateful day of December 7, 1941. The sinking of the USS Arizona was the easily the greatest loss of life of the entire Pearl Harbor attack. Something few people know though is that the second greatest loss of life that day were the deaths of 429 sailors on the USS Oklahoma. This number may pale in comparison to the deaths on the USS Arizona, but it is still an incredible amount of lives lost in a single attack. In memory of these sailors, the National Park Service has built the USS Oklahoma Memorial on Ford Island:
The memorial is located adjacent to the Battleship Missouri Memorial:
The impressive memorial features a flagpole surrounded by 429 marble pillars with the names of each sailor killed by the attack:
An inscription on a black marble wall across from the pillars describes the history of the USS Oklahoma:
Unlike other ships sunk during the Pearl Harbor bombing the USS Oklahoma was not able to be repaired and returned to service. Instead after it was raised from the harbor’s floor it was sold for scrap metal. In 1943 when it was being towed to a scrap yard in Oakland a storm caused the ship to sink 500 miles to the east of Hawaii. It was quite an ignominious ending for such a storied battleship.
For anyone visiting the Battleship Missouri Memorial it is well worth stopping to see the USS Oklahoma Memorial as well. Most people just pause momentarily to take a picture of the memorial before heading over to the USS Missouri. I recommend taking the time to read the inscriptions and really appreciate the history of the USS Oklahoma and what happened to the men of this great ship.
Note: You can read more about Pearl Harbor and Ford Island in the below book: