AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — It is an important part of American History, and a piece of it lives in Amarillo.
It is arguably one of the more infamous ships in American History, the USS Arizona.
“The USS Arizona is very important in our history. It was at Pearl Harbor. When Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese, and probably one of the most severely damaged ships, in fact, it’s still there it entombed most of the sailors who were killed on board during the attack,” said Perry Gilmore, Texas Panhandle War Memorial Executive Director.
More than 1,100 people on the ship died during the attack, and 334 crew members survived including three from the Texas Panhandle.
“The Navy, of course, tried to recover every one course it took days and in weeks, and they felt like they could not safely recover everyone. So the Arizona became their burial tomb,” said Gilmore.
A part of that wreckage lived in the Texas Panhandle War Memorial since 2018 and Gilmore said getting a piece of history in your backyard was not an easy task and comes with its challenges.
Gilmore continued saying it was a collaborative effort with the late Randall County Judge, Ernie Houdashell, former Congressman Mac Thornberry’s office, and the Navy.
“Getting permission from everyone to do that, of course, was a huge challenge and took took quite a long time. And then another hurdle after that accomplishment was done was the Navy calling the judge and saying, ‘Okay, we’ve cut a several 100 pound piece of the deck out for you. It’s here in Hawaii, come get it,” said Gilmore.
With the help of UPS, the five-by-six, 800-pound section of the ship started its more than 3,000-mile journey to Amarillo.
“It’s a very very reverent monument and not many people…I don’t know of anyone who has a piece of it this big,” said Ernie Houdashell, Former Randall County Judge.
“It’s unusual to have anything from the Arizona and so I think it attracts a lot of attention from visitors there. You know, unless you go to Hawaii, you’re really not going to see anything like that. It reminds me of the history that I’ve learned about the attack on Pearl Harbor and the lives lost would attract That was and, and how our country overcame that, you know, to fight and win World War Two,” said Gilmore.
On Dec. 8, 1941, the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, congress approved President Roosevelt’s declaration of war bringing the U.S. into World War II.