Did You Know: USS Arizona U.S. Flag Is On Display at Arizona Capitol Museum

By Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez
Published: Friday, December 5, 2014 - 8:44am
Updated: Friday, December 5, 2014 - 4:11pm
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(Photo courtesy of the Arizona Capitol Musem)
The U.S. Flag was one of several flow on the USS Arizona when it was sunk during the Pearl Harbor attach on December 7, 1941.
(Photo courtesy of the Arizona Capitol Musem)
The letter is from the Pacific Air Naval Base in Hawaii. An engineer forwarded the U.S. flag with the letter to the American Legion in Hawaii. Nearly 50 years later, the flag and letter was given to the Arizona Capitol Museum.

This weekend marks the 73rd Anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. The USS Arizona is one of two battleships that remains sunken where it was attacked.  

Several of the ship’s artifacts are at the Arizona Capitol Museum. One in particular will be released soon for public to see. 

The signal mast and ship anchor are among the most recognizable USS Arizona items at the Arizona State Capitol. Did You Know a U.S. flag that flew on the battleship when it sank during the Pearl Harbor attack will be displayed at the Arizona Capitol Museum starting Sunday?

“Part of the reason it wasn’t up before is because it had been on display back in the early 90s. And after being on display for a while it had to rest,” said Alice Duckworth, the musuem's collection manage.

“For conservation purposes it had to be taken away from the light, had to be taken someplace, had to be preserved,” she said.

We walk into a warehouse-size room called the collection storage area. Propped up against a desk is a large frame.

“And right here is the flag that was on the Arizona when it was sunk on December 7, 1941.”

It wasn’t until December of last year when someone inquired about artifacts from the USS Arizona stored at the museum, that Duckworth pulled it out. The flag is about 3 by 5 feet, made of wool, and has oil stains.

Duckworth said although it is a flag that flew on the battle ship, it isn’t the ship’s flag.

“This particular flag was salvaged from the ship and according to the people who were doing the salvage, it had come off either the small boat that was used by the captain or it belonged to the admiral’s barge," Duckworth said.

The story about the flag is told through a letter that accompanied the banner when it was presented to the museum. The letter was written in May 1942 by a salvage engineer at Pearl Harbor. It recounts how the flag was recovered and given to the American Legion in Hawaii. It resurfaced around 1990 and given to Arizona. Now, because the flag is in a museum quality frame it will be on display for several years.

I did ask what ever happened with the large flag flown at the stern of the USS Arizona. It would have been about 20 by 38 feet with 48 stars. Duckworth said the flag was flying when the ship sank and at some point it was removed, folded, and taken to an officer of another battleship. After that, no one knows what happened to it.

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