| USS Oklahoma Memorial: ‘429 Thank You's’
By Robert Widener
Oklahoma City artist Kevin King visited Pearl Harbor in 2000 with his family, hoping to show his son where the USS Oklahoma had been on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941. When they arrived on Ford Island, they couldn’t find any plaque or memorial marking the tragedy. And at the exact spot where the Oklahoma was moored during the Japanese surprise attack now sat the USS Missouri as a tourist attraction.
“I got angry,” said the Oklahoma native. “I thought when I got there I’d find a sign that said the Oklahoma was here.”
The USS Oklahoma suffered the second-highest loss of life when 429 sailors and Marines perished during the attack. Of the nine battleships bombed and torpedoed in the harbor that morning, the Oklahoma was the only one without a memorial or marker.
Upon King’s return home, he approached his friend, state Sen. Jim Reynolds, with the idea of erecting a memorial. They enlisted the aid of USS Oklahoma survivor Paul Goodyear, who had already spearheaded a tribute to the Oklahoma that was built in 1999 in Oklahoma City.
“I was ecstatic about it when they told me,” said Goodyear. “King had the ingenuity to find someone in Jim Reynolds who could bring it to fruition.”
As a result of their combined efforts, a $1.1 million memorial will be dedicated on Dec. 7 on Hawaii’s Ford Island, just a few hundred yards from where the Oklahoma sank.
Designed by Oklahoma architect Donald Beck, the memorial features granite panels with the names of those who died. An array of 429 seven-foot-tall marble standards, each engraved with the name of a fatality, will be arranged in V-shaped rows.
USS Oklahoma Memorial