By AUDREY McAVOY Associated Press
HONOLULU (AP) – An 800-pound (363-kilogram) chunk from the USS Arizona battleship that sank during the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor is heading to Texas for display at a war memorial.
The Texas Panhandle War Memorial in Amarillo will receive the rusted steel plate and part of the battleship’s weathered wooden deck. The Navy cut the chunk from a section of the Arizona that was removed when the federal government built a memorial over the sunken hull of the ship decades ago.
The Navy has sent 112 pieces from the Arizona to museums and other places around the country, including the National World War II Museum in New Orleans and the Naval Academy. Most are much smaller than the Texas piece and can generally fit in a display case.
Ernie Houdashell, a Randall County, Texas, judge who coordinated the donation said the memorial will treat the relic with reverence. He noted it’s effectively from a cemetery because it’s a part of a battleship that lost 1,177 men, many whom remain entombed on board.
The war memorial, which is dedicated to war dead from the 26 counties in the Texas panhandle, plans to unveil the new display on Dec. 7, the anniversary of the 1941 Pearl Harbor bombing.
"It is a really big deal. This is actually a national relic. It’s a very sacred piece of America," he said. The Texas Panhandle War Memorial is outdoors and has plenty of room. It also has a Huey helicopter that was in combat in Vietnam and a F-100 Super Sabre jet that flew over the Korean peninsula.
Navy Region Hawaii historian Jim Neuman said the Navy still has parts from the Arizona and will continue to do what it can to accommodate requests for them.
UPS Inc. said Thursday it was loading the piece on a plane in Honolulu and flying it to California. The parcel delivery company, which is donating its services, plans to then drive it by truck to Texas.
A police escort and a veterans’ motorcycle club will meet the truck in Lubbock and accompany it to the memorial on June 30. "It’s going to come in to Amarillo with lights flashing," Houdashell said.
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