The U.S. Navy Role in the Creation of the Arizona WWII Memorial
By Robin Staton
The barrels from the USS Missouri and USS Arizona were moved in the spring of 2012. PMS-333 did most of the legal and administrative work to make the transfer possible. Due to the efforts of Jim Poynor, the Arizona Capitol Museum also received a 14-inch projectile and a 16-inch projectile for display. Personnel at NSWCDD also supported the effort by providing historical information, drawings, weight and center-of-gravity data for the crane and railroad
companies, and answering questions ranging from paint colors to ballistic range data. Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett attended the move of the Arizona gun and the two projectiles from the Dahlgren site to the rail spur where they would be loaded onto the rail cars.
Due to the efforts of a large number of contributors, sponsors, volunteers, and supporters under Bennett’s leadership, Arizona’s World War II Memorial: Guns to Salute the Fallen was dedicated in Phoenix on December 7, 2013. Approximately 2,000 people attended, including many veterans and their families. My wife, Nancy, and I also attended from Dahlgren.
Gun 41L3 served on USS Oklahoma from 1916 until approximately 1923, on USS Arizona from 1925 to 1938 (as 41L), and on USS Nevada from 1942 to 1944 (as 41L2), including D-Day and Operation Dragoon. Gun 387 served on USS Missouri from the ship’s commissioning in June of 1944 through 1953. It was at Okinawa, Iwo Jima, and Tokyo Bay for the Japanese surrender. Thus both the Atlantic War and the Pacific War are represented in the memorial, as well as two iconic events: the sinking of USS Arizona during the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and the formal Japanese surrender on USS Missouri on September 2, 1945, officially ending WWII. In the memorial, the gun center lines are separated by a horizontal limestone marker measuring 405 inches, graduated in inches, with each inch representing 1,000 military lives lost during the war. Between the guns are nine steel pillars in
the shape of a battleship hull, representing the nine minutes it took USS Arizona to sink. The pillars support the names of the 1,970 Arizona men and women from various branches of the military who died in the war, cut into stainless steel plates that individually hang by cables from the pillar structure. Behind the guns is the original
signal mast from USS Arizona, and in front of them is an anchor from USS Arizona with the names of all the 1,177 sailors killed on the ship during the attack, inscribed in bronze plaques attached to the pedestal supporting the anchor. Traveling west down Washington Street toward the Arizona Capitol Building, the street divides in a “Y” at Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza, and the memorial is very prominent in the valley of the “Y.”
About the Author
Robin R. Staton retired in 2012 from the position of Chief Scientist on the senior technical staff of the Directed Energy Division of the Electromagnetic & Sensor Systems Department. He had joined the Naval Weapons Laboratory at Dahlgren in 1969 after earning a B.S. in physics from North Carolina State University. After graduate study in electrical engineering with Virginia Tech (1970-1972), he worked almost exclusively in technology development and demonstration for various NSWCDD projects. In addition to that work, in 1998 he was co-editor of the NSWC Dahlgren Division Technical Journal and, during the final year of his career at Dahlgren, led an effort to document and preserve the technical history of Navy work at Dahlgren since 1918. Staton has authored or co-authored 27 technical reports or papers in DoD technical symposia. He is a member of the Phi Kappa Phi national honorary society, the Sigma Pi Sigma physics society, and the IEEE. He is a charter member of the Dahlgren Heritage Museum and has shared his knowledge with visitors as a docent.