Visitors from all over the globe come to see the USS Arizona Memorial and the USS Oklahoma Memorial at Pearl Harbor. These two memorials honor the brave crewmen who tragically lost their lives during the Japanese attack on December 7, 1941.
If you’re planning a visit to Pearl Harbor, read on to learn more about the USS Arizona Memorial and the USS Oklahoma Memorial and why you should definitely schedule time at each.
Both ships were present at Pearl Harbor at the time of the attacks. Of the 2,402 crewmen who were killed that day, 1,177 were aboard the USS Arizona while another 429 of those deaths were on the USS Oklahoma.
The Arizona was fully operational that day, with 95 percent of her fuel tank filled and her powder magazine also filled. This made for a deadly combination. The Japanese dropped an armor piercing bomb, and it ignited the forward magazine on the ship. The blast occurred just 13 minutes into the attack, and it was devastating. The ship eventually sank into the harbor, killing both sailors and Marines on board.
The USS Oklahoma sat on Battleship Row as the attack began. Nine torpedoes hit the ship, eight of them hitting within the first 10 minutes of the attack. The men on board tried to return fire, but the ship was badly damaged. The ninth and final torpedo hit the ship just as she was sinking into the mud. Both sailors and Marines lost their lives that day.
The USS Arizona Memorial
Today the Arizona Memorial stands as a proud remembrance of that terrible day. Visitors can now visit the floating isle that rests just above the sunken Arizona and pay their respects.
The memorial was first constructed in 1962 and designed by Honolulu architect Alfred Preis, whose design was chosen in a contest. It was designed to look similar to a milk carton with open walls on both sides. Photos of the sailors who lost their lives on board the Arizona as well as survivors line the walls of Remembrance Hall, located at one end of the memorial. The memorial does not touch the sunken ship, but visitors can easily see the ship below them.
A tour of the USS Arizona Memorial includes a 23-minute documentary at the Pearl Harbor theater, along with a short boat ride to the memorial. There, visitors can pay their respects to the heroes still entombed in the wreckage of the ship.
The USS Oklahoma Memorial
The USS Oklahoma Memorial is one of the newer sites at Pearl Harbor. Constructed in 2007, this memorial honors the crewmen and Marines of the Oklahoma. On the day of the Japanese attack, less than a third of the Oklahoma’s crew escaped. Unlike the USS Arizona however, the Navy salvaged the Oklahoma and brought it back to the surface in November, 1943. All the bodies were recovered and given a proper burial.
Today the USS Oklahoma Memorial consists of black granite blocks holding up white marble slabs with the names of the lost crewmen engraved on the marble. It is located near the Battleship Missouri on Ford Island.
No visit to Pearl Harbor is complete without a visit to these memorials.