The powerful battleship, USS Oklahoma (BB-37), was commissioned in 1916 along with her sister ship, the USS Nevada (BB-36). The Oklahoma traveled to Europe in 1918 as a convoy escort but would never fire her 14- inch guns in war. Over the next 23 years, she traversed the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in training exercises. After 29 December 1937, she was based at Pearl Harbor. At 0755 on Sunday morning, 7 December 1941, the surprise attack began against Ford Island and then, at 0757, against the ships on Battleship Row. During the next harrowing 12 minutes, the Oklahoma was struck by 9 Japanese torpedoes with the order to “abandon ship!” after the fourth strike. At 0809 the ship had capsized taking with her over 400 Sailors and Marines trapped below decks.
An immediate rescue operation began to break through the thick hull of the ship. After 30 hours, only 32 trapped men were pulled alive from the ship. The total death toll on the USS Oklahoma was 429 lives. The Oklahoma was salvaged in 1943 with the unidentified remains of 393 Sailors and Marines interred at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl).
Although the Oklahoma never fired her 14-in guns against the enemy, two of her guns and three from the USS Arizona (BB-39) were salvaged and placed on the USS Nevada and would fire on Iwo Jima and Okinawa in the closing battles of World War II!
For many it seemed The Okie was lost from historical memory, but on 7 December 1999, the USS Oklahoma (BB-37) Memorial was dedicated on the State Capital grounds in Oklahoma City in memory of the 429 men who perished. Then on 7 December 2007, the USS Oklahoma (BB-37) Memorial at the Pearl Harbor National Memorial was dedicated on Battleship Row where the Oklahoma was moored on that fateful morning of 7 December 1941. We will always remember the Oklahoma and the men who served and died with her!