Release: April 15, 2004
Senator Jim Reynolds and USS Oklahoma survivors listen to
Paul Goodyear, the head of the survivor's
association, tell the story of their tragic day in Pearl
U.S.S. Oklahoma Memorial Supporters Express Frustration
About 30 of the remaining 149 survivors
of the attack on the U.S.S. Oklahoma have come to Oklahoma
City for their annual reunion. On Thursday morning some
of those veterans came to the State Capitol to be honored
by lawmakers. Later, at a press conference, they shared
their frustrations in trying to secure a permanent memorial
for the U.S.S. Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor.
Reynolds has been working with the group for two years
on the project. He said it is high time for the U.S.S. Oklahoma
to have the kind of memorial the ship and crew deserved.
“During the attack on Pearl Harbor, 429 lives were
lost on the U.S.S. Oklahoma alone. And of the many ships
attacked in those terrible minutes, only three never sailed
again—The U.S.S. Arizona, the Utah, and the Oklahoma,”
explained Reynolds, R-OKC.
“The Arizona and the Utah are there today as part
of a permanent memorial, but the Oklahoma was sold for scrap
metal and sank while being towed back to the states. The
loss of this ship and its crew, and the bravery and sacrifices
of the survivors, deserves a permanent tribute, but that’s
not what we’ve been offered,” Reynolds said.
Members of the group “Citizens for a USS Oklahoma
Memorial at Pearl Harbor” said they have encountered
problems with different entities involved, including the
Parks Department and the U.S. Navy.
“So far, they’ve offered a very small location
in a restricted area that would be difficult for visitors
to reach. We’d like something near the U.S.S. Arizona
Visitors Center, which is much more visible and easy to
reach. It isn’t right that the U.S.S. Oklahoma and
its crew are not being afforded a proper memorial,”
Paul Goodyear is one of the survivors and organizers of
the annual U.S.S. Oklahoma Family Reunion.
“The U.S.S. Oklahoma is the only U.S. battleship not
to have a permanent memorial at Pearl Harbor. The boys on
the Arizona were killed instantly, but most of those who
died on the Oklahoma suffered a much more frightening death.
They slowly suffocated or drowned in pitch-black compartments.
We cannot even begin to imagine the horror they experienced
in their final minutes,” said Goodyear.
“It is absolutely disgraceful that the U.S. Navy and
the Parks Department will not help us create a fitting tribute
to these men. We’re not asking for money, just an
appropriate location for the project.”
Goodyear pointed out the youngest of their group was nearly
80 years old, and that they were fewer in number every year.
“If we don’t do this now, these men will be
completely forgotten. Is that the way we thank them for
the supreme sacrifice they made for this country? That would
be shameful,” said Goodyear.
Reynolds and other members of the group said at this point
it was critical to get the full support of Oklahoma’s
congressional delegation. He called on the public to let
their U.S. Representatives and Senators know they want their
support in erecting a permanent memorial.
“This ship was named for our great state. The courage
and the tremendous losses that are a part of that history
should not be lost to us. We need our delegation to help
make this memorial a reality. To do less would simply be
wrong,” said Reynolds.
For more information or to help with the memorial project,
contact Tucker McHugh, chairman of the memorial committee,
more information contact:
Communications Office - (405) 521-5774