Twenty-six survivors of the USS Oklahoma are returning to the Sooner State this week. State Sen. Jim Reynolds, who has been working with the group to secure a permanent memorial at Pearl Harbor, said the survivors held their reunion here in 2004 and voted unanimously to hold their 2005 gathering here as well.
“The main reason is that they wanted to be here for a special dedication ceremony of a military exhibit at the new Oklahoma History Center that will include artifacts from the USS Oklahoma. But they also enjoyed the great hospitality and warm welcome they received here,” said Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City.
The USS Oklahoma was one of the three largest battleships never to sail again after the attack on Pearl Harbor. It sustained the second largest loss of life with 429 men killed. There are now 125 remaining survivors and the youngest is 81 years old. Since their 2004 reunion, 27 have passed away.
“This is why we have pushed so hard to erect a permanent memorial at Pearl Harbor. We want these heroes to be able to see this memorial become a reality in their lifetime,” said Reynolds. “Tom Cole and other members of Oklahoma’s Congressional delegation have been working diligently with us on this project and I believe we’re closer than we’ve ever been to making this happen.”
While in Oklahoma, the survivors will have a busy week. On Wednesday the group will be visiting schools in the metro area to talk to students about Pearl Harbor. On Thursday they will meet with ROTC students, faculty and dignitaries at the University of Oklahoma. On Friday, they will attend the dedication ceremony at the new Oklahoma History Center at 10:30 a.m.