Portion of the USS Arizona arrives for permanent display in Rhode Island
By MARK REYNOLDS | The Providence Journal, R.I. | Published: December 17, 2018
WARWICK, R.I. (Tribune News Service)— A five-by-four-foot plate of steel, salvaged from the wreck of the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor and seen as an important relic for holding onto the history and lessons of World War II, made its final journey on Monday morning.
The artifact, which was unloaded from a FedEx cargo plane at T.F. Green Airport last week, was received a ceremony outside an airport operations facility and then hauled to the Wakefield-based World War II Foundation with a state police escort.
"Every artifact from World War II does have a personal story behind it," said Tim Gray, a documentary filmmaker who founded the foundation. "Some good. Some bad. But this artifact to me represents the exact moment that the United States entered World War II. It just is an honor for the foundation to have this artifact here."
The relic's transport to the foundation's Global Education Center at 344 Main St. is the product a collaboration between the U.S. Navy; FedEx CEO Frederick W. Smith; and others.
A Navy program that sends pieces of the ship all over the world for permanent display made the donation to foundation.
The relic was removed from an unsubmerged part of the ship following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and kept at nearby Ford Island.
The Wakefield-based education center produces educational films to honor the bravery and sacrifice of World War II veterans and survivors. Part of its mission is to help "future generations appreciate the determination and sacrifices that enabled perpetuation of our basic freedoms," according to its mission statement.
One of the veterans who greeted the relic at the airport was Richard Fazzio, a 93-year-old Woonsocket man who was a coxswain on a landing craft that brought soldiers to the beach at Normandy during the D-Day invasion.
Fazzio fought in a different theater against a different enemy.
But Fazzio appreciated seeing an artifact from the Pacific theater.
"It's great," he said.
Two people from Rhode Island, George Ernest Perkins and Alvaro Everett Vieira, are listed among the casualties on the USS Arizona, according to the National Parks Service.
It's possible that other Rhode Islanders died in the attack, which took place 77 years ago on Dec. 7, since not all of the parks service does not list home states of all the victims.
According to the National World War II Museum, 2,403 servicemen and civilians were killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor. Nearly half of the victims were aboard the Arizona.
Relics like steel from Arizona are "critical," according to U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, who was at the ceremony. He is a history buff who studied military history at West Point.
"It reminds us of the sacrifice and service of a whole generation who fought in World War II," Reed said, "particularly the more than a thousand sailors and marines who are still entombed in the Arizona."
"It was a devastating attack," he said, "and yet because of the courage of these men and women they rallied and won a great victory for the world."
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