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Chunk of USS Arizona going to Texas war memorial

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Part of a steel plate and wood deck from the USS Arizona, held in place by white beams, sat in a crate Thursday waiting to be loaded onto an airplane at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. The crate is heading to Texas for display at a war memorial.

An 800-pound 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 steel plate and part of the battleship’s 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 of whom remain entombed within its hull.

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 UH-1 “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 truck it to Texas.

A police escort and a veterans’ motorcycle club will meet the truck in Lubbock, Texas, and accompany it to the memorial.

“It’s going to come in to Amarillo with lights flashing,” Houdashell said.

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