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Oklahoma Genealogical Society

 

 

THE U.S.S OKLAHOMA
(BB-37)    

1916-1946


Published in The Oklahoma Genealogical Society Quarterly
Volume 46, Number 1, 2001

In 1911 Congress authorized the building of two battleships. These two battleships were the Nevada and the Oklahoma. They were to be a modern symbol of the power of the United States. The New York Shipbuilding Company of Camden, New Jersey, laid the keel for the battleship U.S.S. Oklahoma in October 1912 for the United States Navy. These two battleships were to be the first to burn oil as fuel instead of coal.

The ship was christened in March 1914 by Lorena Jane Cruce, daughter of Oklahoma’s Governor, Lee Cruce. Ms. Cruce struck the ship with a bottle of champagne while stating, "In the name of the United States, I christen thee ‘Oklahoma.’" The Navy had earlier convinced Governor Cruce that it was tradition to use champagne in christening ships. The Governor had not liked the idea of using champagne to launch a ship named for his state. Presented as a gift to the U.S.S. Oklahoma at the christening was a 65 pound sterling silver punch bowl, its plateau and silver service. The silver set was created by Gorham Silversmiths of Providence, Rhode Island after the state Legislature appropriated the funds in 1913. The silver set was designed by Walter C. Dean, a jeweler in Oklahoma City. The punch bowl is engraved with the state seal, a depiction of the 1889 land run, mistletoe stems and wheat stalks. Its handles are sculpted heads of "Boomer" David L. Payne and Cherokee chief, Sequoyah while the serving pieces honor Oklahoma’s oil industry. The silver would be used on the Oklahoma’s many diplomatic missions.

The U.S.S. Oklahoma was commissioned at Philadelphia on May 2, 1916 with Captain Roger Welles commanding. The commissioning statement of the Oklahoma stated " That it was hoped that the Oklahoma might never become a mere instrument of destruction nor of strife, but a minister of peace and a guardian of rights and interests of mankind, protecting the weak against the strong." Attending the commissioning was the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Franklin D. Roosevelt. As president, Roosevelt would declare war on Japan in 1941 after the attack at Pearl Harbor.

 

Some milestones in the U.S.S. Oklahoma’s career are:

 

August 13, 1918

Sailed with her sister ship, the Nevada, to protect and escort allied convoys from the German Navy in European waters in World War I until the war was over. She was nicknamed the "Okie."

December 1918

Participated as an escort to President Woodrow Wilson traveling to France.

June 1919

Returned to France to escort President Woodrow Wilson, aboard the George Washington, home from his second trip to that country. President Wilson had been negotiating the Versailles Treaty.

1919-1926

Was a part of the Atlantic Fleet for two years and then the Pacific Fleet for six years . Participated in the Peruvian Centennial and the unveiling of the San Martin Monument.

1927

Joined the Scouting Fleet.

1927 - 1929

Modernized at Philadelphia. She became one of the first ships to have bunks instead of hammocks.

July 1929

Rejoined the Scouting Fleet. Maneuvers were reduced during the Depression due to the lack of fuel oil.

1933

An earthquake hit Long Beach, California while the Oklahoma was docked there. The crew went ashore to help keep order.

1933

Participated in a civil defense test with authorities in Tacoma, Washington by using the ship’s generators to provide all electrical power to the city for 24 hours, proving the Navy could help civilians if it became necessary.

July 1936

Sailed to Bilbao to rescue American citizens and other refugees due to the Spanish Civil War. While delivering a group of these citizens to the safety of France, a woman gave birth. This was the first time a baby had been born on an American battleship.

August 1940

The Oklahoma had been in drydock in Puget Sound, Washington after participating in Army/Navy exercises. She was backing down Puget Sound in the fog and hit a tow line of a barge carrying railroad cars which sent railroad cars into the water. A Navy ship had never before collided with a train.

December 6, 1940

Based at Pearl Harbor for patrol and exercises.

December 7, 1941

Moored in Pearl Harbor Battleship Row 7 beside the Maryland, the Oklahoma was among the first hit by the Japanese. She was among almost half of the United States Pacific Fleet consisting of 150 vessels who lay at anchor in Pearl Harbor that morning when attacked. During the first few hours of the attack, the United States suffered one of her worst wartime losses: over 2,300 men, women and children were killed, 429 aboard the U.S.S. Oklahoma.

            The U.S.S. Oklahoma received one battle star for service in World War II.

The dawning of December 7, 1941 had begun with the U.S.S. Antares spotting a conning tower of a Japanese midget submarine attempting to enter Pearl Harbor.

Aboard the Oklahoma, the day began with the ship’s bugler, Joe H. Lawter blowing the first morning call. Lawter had just graduated from Central High School in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma two years earlier and was in a U.S. Marine detachment serving aboard the battleship. He was preparing to sound the signal to raise the flag when at approximately 7:55 A.M. the first wave of Japanese aircraft dropped at least three aerial torpedoes on the Oklahoma. At first Lawter thought it was a training exercise until he heard the announcement over the intercom by the boatswain’s mate that it was not a mock alert.

This attack initiated the United States’ entry into the war even though the war in Europe had been waging since September 1939 when Germany attacked Poland.

The U.S.S. Oklahoma began capsizing after being struck initially by at least three aerial torpedoes. The Japanese also strafed the ships with machine gun fire. After being hit by more torpedoes, the Oklahoma’s port side was torn open and she rolled over within fifteen minutes. Many serving aboard the Oklahoma joined the crew aboard the Maryland to continue fighting. Many others were trapped below deck for days while rescuers tried to cut into the hull. Of the men trapped, only 32 were saved over a three day period. Approximately 400 bodies would later be recovered when the ship was raised in 1944. Of these, only 35 were identified. The rest were buried in a mass grave in the National Cemetery of Hawaii.

Salvage of the U.S.S. Oklahoma began in March 1943. She was the most difficult and largest of the Pearl Harbor salvage jobs. In dry dock, she was repaired enough to make her watertight. She was decommissioned in September 1944 and sold to a scrapping company in California for less than $50,000. In May 1947, two tugs began towing the Oklahoma to San Francisco. Awaiting her arrival in San Francisco was Roy J. Turner, Governor of Oklahoma, along with may others, to pay last respects to the battleship named after their state. However, on May 17, 1947 the tow lines separated and the U.S.S. Oklahoma sank 540 miles out of Pearl Harbor. For former crew members, it was a relief that the ship had sunk and died at sea rather than being cut up for scrap.

During salvage, the ship’s wheel and a section of the wooden deck were removed and are now a part of a display at the Oklahoma Historical Society Museum, along with its formal silver service and punch bowl. In readying the ship for possible combat, the silver set presented to the U.S.S. Oklahoma had been removed and stored at Puget Sound Naval Station. The silver set was returned to Oklahoma in 1947 and has been housed at the Oklahoma Historical Society Museum since. A replica of the punch bowl resides at the Governor’s Mansion

For many years, the only monument to the men lost on the Oklahoma was a marker at Pearl Harbor until the anchor was brought to Oklahoma City. John Kirkpatrick, an Oklahoma City philanthropist, was a gunnery officer on the U.S.S. North Carolina when it sailed into Pearl Harbor where he saw the capsized U.S.S. Oklahoma. He later became a Navy Admiral and was instrumental in bringing the anchor of the U.S.S. Oklahoma to its present location at Park Avenue and Broadway Avenue in downtown Oklahoma City.

The long awaited monument to the U.S.S. Oklahoma and the men who served aboard her was unveiled in a ceremony on November 11, 1998, fifty-seven years after she capsized in Pearl Harbor. Designed by Richard Romero, the monument is a slab of pink granite from a southwestern Oklahoma quarry. An image of the U.S.S. Oklahoma is engraved across the face. Beneath the ship is the sea and the names of the 429 men lost are listed with the inscription "These heroes perished when the USS Oklahoma capsized in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii." It is located in the military gardens site on the north lawn of the Oklahoma Historical Society, 2100 North Lincoln Boulevard, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Funds for the monument were raised by survivors/veterans’ groups who wanted to assure families that their loved ones who perished would never be forgotten. The number of survivors living are getting less and less as each year goes by. Those still living are now in their late seventies or eighties but time has not erased their memory of December 7, 1941.

The Oklahoma Historical Society’s exhibit on the U.S.S. Oklahoma will be expanded when the new museum is completed.

For additional information on the U.S.S. Oklahoma, check the Navy resources online at the following three sites;
Navy Resources , Navy History and Actual Ship Logs

 

Anchor from the U.S.S. Oklahoma
located at Park Avenue and Broadway
in downtown Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Inscribed on Base:
Eternal Vigilance is the Price of Liberty
U.S.S. Oklahoma
Pearl Harbor
7 December 1941

                NAMES LISTED ON MONUMENT

U.S. NAVY

ADKINS, MARVIN B.

ALDRIDGE, WILLARD H.

ALEXANDER, HUGH R.

ALLEN, STANLEY W.

ALLISON, HAL J.

ARICKX, LEON

ARMSTRONG, KENNETH B.

ARTLEY, DARYLE E.

AULD, JOHN C.

AUSTIN, JOHN A.

BACKMAN, WALTER H.

BAILEY, GERALD J.

BAILEY, ROBERT E.

BALLANCE, WILBUR F.

BANKS, LAYTON T.

vBARBER, LEROY K.

vBARBER, MALCOM J.

vBARBER, RANDOLPH H.

BARNCORD, CECIL E.

BARRETT, WILBUR C.

BATES, HAROLD E.

BATTLES, RALPH C.

BAUM, EARL P.

BEAN, HOWARD W.

BELT, WALTER S. JR.

BENNETT, ROBERT J.

BLACKBURN, HARDING C.

BLANCHARD, WILLIAM E.

BLAYLOCK, CLARENCE A.

zBLITZ, LEO

zBLITZ, RUDOLPH

BOCK, JOHN G. JR.

BOEMER, PAUL L.

BOOE, JAMES B.

BORING, JAMES B.

BOUDREAUX, RALPH M.

BOXRUCKER, LAWRENCE A.

BOYNTON, RAYMOND D.

BRADLEY, CARL M.

BRANDT, ORIS V.

BREEDLOVE, JACK A.

BREWER, RANDALL W.

BROOKS, WILLIAM

BROWN, WESLEY J.

BRUESEWITZ, WILLIAM G.

BUCHANAN, JAMES R.

BURCH, EARL G.

BURGER, OLIVER K.

BURK, MILLARD JR.

BUTTS, RODGER C.

CALLAHAN, ARCHIE JR.

CAMERY, RAYMOND R.

CAMPBELL, WILLIAM V.

CARGILE, MURRAY R.

CARNEY, HAROLD F.

CARROLL, JOSEPH W.

CASINGER, EDWARD E.

CASOLA, BIACIO

vCASTRO, CHARLES R.

vCASTRO, RICHARD E.

CHESHIRE, JAMES T.

CHESS, PATRICK L.

CLARK, DAVID JR.

CLAYTON, GERALD L.

CLEMENT, HUBERT P.

CLIFFORD, FLOYD F.

COKE, GEORGE A.

COLLINS, JAMES E.

CONNOLLY, JOHN G.

CONNOLLY, KEEFE R.

CONWAY, EDWARD L.

COOK, GRANT C. JR.

CORN, ROBERT L.

CORZATT, BEOIN H.

CRAIG, JOHN W.

CRIM, WARREN H.

CROWDER, SAMUEL W.

CURRY, WILLIAM M.

CYRIACK, GLENN G.

DARBY, MARSHALL E. JR.

DAVENPORT, JAMES W. JR.

DAY, FRANCIS D.

DELLES, LESLIE P.

DERRINGTON, RALPH A.

DICK, FRANCIS E.

DILL, LEAMAN R.

DOERNEBURG, KENNETH E.

DONALD, JOHN M.

DORR, CARL D.

DOYLE, BERNARD V.

DRWALL, STANISLAW F.

DUSSET, CYRIL I.

DYER, BUFORD H.

EAKES, WALLACE E.

EBERHARDT, EUGENE K.

EDMONSTON, DAVID B.

ELLIS, EARL M.

ELLISON, BRUCE H.

ELLSBERRY, JULIUS

ENGLAND, JOHN C.

FARFAN, IGNACIO C.

FARMER, LUTHER J.

FECHO, LAWRENCE H.

FERGUSON, CHARLTON H.

FIELDS, ROBERT A.

FINNEGAN, WILLIAM M.

µFLAHERTY, FRANCIS C.

FLANAGAN, JAMES M.

FLORESE, FELICISMO

FOLEY, WALTER C.

FOOTE, GEORGE P.

FORD, GEORGE C.

FRENCH, JOY C.

FURR, TEDD M.

GALAJDIK, MICHAEL

GARA, MARTIN A.

GARCIA, JESUS F.

GARRIS, EUGENE

GEBSER, PAUL H.

«GELLER, LEONARD R.

GEORGE, GEORGE T.

GIBSON, GEORGE H.

GIESA, GEORGE E.

GIFFORD, QUENTIN J.

GILBERT, GEORGE

GILLETTE, WARREN C.

GILLIARD, BENJAMIN E.

GLENN, ARTHUR

GOGGIN, DARYL H.

GOLDWATER, JACK R.

GOMEZ, CHARLES C. JR.

GOOCH, GEORGE M.

GOODWIN, CLIFFORD G.

GOODWIN, ROBERT

GORDON, DUFF

GOWEY, CLAUDE O.

GRAHAM, WESLEY E.

GRAND PRE, ARTHUR M.

GRIFFITH, THOMAS E.

GROSS, EDGAR D.

GROW, VERNON N.

GUISINGER, DANIEL L. JR.

GURGANUS, WILLIAM I.

GUSIE, WILLIAM F.

HALL, HUBERT P.

HALTERMAN, ROBERT E.

HAM, HAROLD W.

HAMLIN, DALE R.

HANN, EUGENE P.

HANNON, FRANCIS L.

HANSON, GEORGE

HARR, ROBERT J.

HARRIS, CHARLES H.

HARRIS, DANIEL F.

HARRIS, LOUIS E. JR.

HAYDEN, ALBERT E.

HEAD, HAROLD L.

HEADINGTON, ROBERT W.

HELLSTERN, WILLIAM F.

HELTON, FLOYD D.

HENRICHSEN, JIMMIE L.

«HENSON, WILLIAM E. JR.

HERBER, HARVEY C.

HERBERT, GEORGE

HESLER, AUSTIN H.

HISKETT, DENIS H.

HITTORFF, JOSEPH P. JR.

HOAG, FRANK S. JR.

HOARD, HERBERT J.

HOFFMAN, JOSEPH W.

HOLM, KENNETH L.

HOLMES, HARRY R.

HOLZHAUER, JAMES W.

HOPKINS, EDWIN C.

HORD, CHESTER G.

HRYNIEWICZ, FRANK A.

HUDSON, CHARLES E.

HULTGREN, LORENTZ E.

HUNTER, ROBERT M.

IVERSON, GLAYDON I. C.

JACKSON, WILLIE

JACOBSON, HERBERT B.

JAMES, CHALLIS R.

JARDING, GEORGE W.

JAYNE, KENNETH L.

JENSEN, THEODORE Q.

JENSON, JESSE B.

JOHANNES, CHARLES H.

JOHNSON, BILLY J.

JOHNSON, EDWARD D.

JOHNSON, JOSEPH M.

JOHNSTON, JIM H.

JONES, CHARLES A.

JONES, FRED M.

JONES, JERRY

JORDAN, JULIAN B.

JORDAN, WESLEY V.

JURASHEN, THOMAS V.

KANE, ALBERT U.

KARLI, JOHN A.

KEFFER, HOWARD V.

KEIL, RALPH H.

KELLER, DONALD G.

KELLEY, JOE M.

KEMPF, WARREN J.

KENINGER, LEO T.

KENNEDY, WILLIAM H.

KERESTES, ELMER T.

KESLER, DAVID L.

KLASING, WILLIAM A.

KNIPP, VERNE F.

KVALNES, HANS C.

KVIDERA, WILLIAM L.

«KYSER, D. T.

LARSEN, ELLIOTT D.

LAURIE, JOHNNIE C.

LAWRENCE, ELMER P.

LAWSON, WILLARD I.

LEHMAN, GERALD G.

LEHMAN, MYRON K.

LESCAULT, LIONEL W.

LINDSEY, HAROLD W.

LINDSLEY, JOHN H.

LIVINGSTON, ALFRED E.

LOCKWOOD, CLARENCE M.

LOEBACH, ADOLPH J.

LUKE, VERNON T.

MABINE, OCTAVIUS

MAGERS, HOWARD S.

MALEK, MICHAEL

MALFANTE, ALGEO V.

MANNING, WALTER B.

MASON, HENRI C.

MAULE, JOSEPH K.

McCABE, EDWIN B.

McCLOUD, DONALD R.

McDONALD, JAMES O.

McKEEMAN, BERT E.

McKISSACK, HALE

McLAUGHLIN, LLOYD E.

MELTON, EARL R.

MELTON, HERBERT F.

MILES, ARCHIE T.

MITCHELL, WALLACE G.

MONTGOMERY, CHARLES A.

MULICK, JOHN M.

MYERS, RAY H.

NAEGLE, GEORGE E.

NAIL, ELMER D.

NASH, PAUL A.

NEHER, DON O.

NEUENSCHWANDER, ARTHUR C.

«NEVILL, SAM D.

NEWTON, WILBUR F.

NICHOLS, CARL

NICHOLS, HARRY E.

NICOLES, FRANK E.

NIELSEN, ARNOLD .

NIGG, LAVERNE A.

NIGHTINGALE, JOE R.

NIX, CHARLES E.

OGLE, CHARLES R.

O’GRADY, CAMILLUS M.

OLSEN, ELI

OUTLAND, JARVIS G.

OVERLEY, LAWRENCE J.

OWSLEY, ALPHARD S.

PACE, MILLARD C.

PALIDES, JAMES JR.

vPALMER, CALVIN H.

vPALMER, WILFERD D.

PARADIS, GEORGE L.

PARKER, ISAAC

PEARCE , DALE F.

PENTICO, WALTER R.

PEPE, STEPHEN

PERDUE, CHARLES F.

PETWAY, WILEY J.

PHILLIPS, MILO E.

PHIPPS, JAMES N.

PIRTLE, GERALD H.

PISKURAN, RUDOLPH V.

POINDEXTER, HERBERT J. JR.

PREWITT, BRADY O.

PRIBBLE, ROBERT L.

PRICE, GEORGE F.

PRIDE, LEWIS B. JR.

PUE, JASPER L. JR.

RAIMOND, PAUL S.

RAY, ELDON C.

REAGAN, DAN E.

REGAN, LEO B.

RICE, IRVIN F.

RICH, PORTER L.

RIDENOUR, CLYDE JR.

RILEY, DAVID J.

ROACH, RUSSELL C.

ROBERTSON, JOSEPH M.

ROESCH, HAROLD W.

ROGERS, WALTER B.

ROUSE, JOSEPH C.

RUSE, CHARLES L.

RYAN, EDMUND T.

SADLOWSKI, ROMAN W.

SAMPSON, KENNETH H.

SANDERS, DEAN S.

SAUNDERS, CHARLES L.

SAVAGE, LYAL J.

SAVIDGE, JOHN E.

SAYLOR, PAUL E.

SCHLEITER, WALTER F.

SCHMIDT, HERMAN

SCHMITT, ALOYSIUS H.

SCHMITZ, ANDREW J.

SCHOONOVER, JOHN H.

SCOTT, BERNARD O.

SEATON, CHESTER E.

SEDERSTROM, VERDI D.

SELLON, WILLIAM L.

SEVERINSON, EVERETT I.

SHAFER, WILLIAM K.

SHANAHAM, WILLIAM J. JR.

SHELDEN, EDWARD J.

SILVA, WILLIAM G.

SKAGGS, EUGENE M.

SKILES, GAROLD L.

SLAPIKAS, EDWARD F.

SMITH, LEONARD F.

SMITH, MERLE A.

SMITH, ROWLAND H.

SOLLIE, WALTER H.

SOLOMON, JAMES C.

SPANGLER, MAURICE V.

STAPLETON, KIRBY R.

STEELY, ULIS C.

STEIN, WALTER C.

STEINER, SAMUEL C.

STERN, CHARLES M. JR.

STEWART, EVERETT R.

STOCKDALE, LOUIS S.

STOTT, DONALD A.

«STOUT, ROBERT T.

STOUTEN, JAMES

SURRATT, MILTON R.

SWANSON, CHARLES H.

TALBERT, EDWARD E.

TANNER, RANGNER F. JR.

TEMPLE, MONROE

TEMPLES, HOUSTON

TERHUNE, BENJAMIN C.

THINNES, ARTHUR R

THOMPSON, CHARLES W.

THOMPSON, CLARENCE

THOMPSON, GEORGE A.

THOMPSON, IRVIN A. R.

THOMPSON, WILLIAM M.

THOMSON, RICHARD J.

THORNTON, CECIL H.

THROMBLEY, ROBERT L.

TIDBALL, DAVID F.

TIMM, LLOYD R.

TINDALL, LEWIS F.

TINI, DANTE S.

TIPSON, HENRY G.

TITTERINGTON, EVERETT C.

TODD, NEAL K.

TORTI, NATALE I.

TRANBARGER, ORVAL A.

vTRAPP, HAROLD F.

vTRAPP, WILLIAM H.

TREADWAY, SHELBY

TUCKER, WILLIAM D.

TUMLINSON, VICTOR P.

«TURNER, BILLY

TUSHLA, LOUIS J.

UFFORD, RUSSELL O.

VALLEY, LOWELL E.

WADE, DURRELL

WAGONER, LEWIS L.

WALKER, HARRY E.

WALKOWIAK, ROBERT N.

WALPOLE, EUGENE A.

WALTERS, CHARLES E.

µWARD, JAMES R.

WASIELEWSKI, EDWARD

WATSON, RICHARD L.

WEBB, JAMES C.

WELCH, WILLIAM E.

WELLS, ALFRED F.

WEST, ERNEST R.

WHEELER, JOHN D.

WHITE, CLAUDE

WHITE, JACK D.

WHITSON, ALTON W.

«WICKER, EUGENE W.

WIEGAND, LLOYD P.

WILCOX, GEORGE J. JR.

WILLIAMS, ALBERT L.

WILLIAMS, JAMES C.

WILLIAMS, WILBUR S.

WIMMER, BERNARD R.

WINDLE, EVERETT G.

WINFIELD, STARRING B.

WISE, REX E.

WOOD, FRANK

vWOODS, LAWRENCE E.

vWOODS, WINFRED O.

WORKMAN, CREIGHTON H.

WORTHAM, JOHN L.

WRIGHT, PAUL R.

WYMAN, ELDON P.

YOUNG, MARTIN D.

YOUNG, ROBERT V.

YURKO, JOSEPH J.

ZVANSKY, THOMAS

 

U.S. MARINE CORPS

ARTHURHOLTZ, MARLEY R.

«BLACK, WALDEAN

COLLIER, WALTER L.

CREMEAN, ALVA J.

DREFAHL, ELMER E.

GAVER, HARRY H. JR.

HALL, TED

HENRY, OTIS W.

HOLMES, ROBERT K.

«KEATON, VERNON P.

MIDDLESWART, JOHN F.

«PEAK, ROBERT H.

«PENNINGTON, RAYMOND

«TAYLOR, CHARLES R.

 

                µ MEDAL OF HONOR

                « OKLAHOMA

                v BROTHERS

                z TWINS

 

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