‘USS Oklahoma Family’, Friends Visit USS Midway Museum

'USS Oklahoma Family', Friends Visit USS Midway Museum

The “USS Oklahoma Family” and friends visited the USS Midway Museum during a four-day reunion commemorating the attack on Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941.

Four survivors from the “family” who were stationed aboard the battleship USS Oklahoma (BB 37) during the attack were honored with the presentation of the national ensign and Navy flag, the singing of the “Star Spangled Banner”, and given a special tour of the ship.

“When we have visitors like our World War II veterans come to visit, they are the stars of the show,” said Mac McLaughlin, retired rear admiral, and president and CEO of the USS Midway Museum. “The public loves to talk to them and hear what they have to say, and we treat them like Hollywood celebrities.”

The purpose of the USS Oklahoma Family is to honor all of the Oklahoma crew members who were lost on that fateful day, those who survived and to keep the crew, family, and friends connected in such a way to honor all our heroes from the era known as “the greatest generation.”

“It’s a close group,” said Ed Vezey, Pearl Harbor survivor and former Oklahoma Sailor. “We didn’t know each other before, but we have been meeting for years now and have become a pretty unified group. The family not only consists of the survivors, but close family and people who were affiliated through family, or just people who loved the Oklahoma.”

When Pearl Harbor was attacked by Japanese forces Dec. 7, 1941, Oklahoma was hit on its port side by five torpedoes before capsizing. Four hundred and twenty-nine Sailors and Marines on board Oklahoma lost their lives in the bombing, making that battleship the second largest loss of life out of all the ships that were attacked at Pearl Harbor, the first being the battleship USS Arizona (BB 39).

“Paul [Goodyear] and I worked on the committee to design and get all the work done building a memorial at [Pearl Harbor] for the Oklahoma and the 429 dead,” said Vezey.

“She was a happy ship; a good ship,” said Vezey. “It’s almost impossible to explain to a non-Sailor the bond there is with the ship and its people. It’s a bond that has grown even stronger over the years because of that unifying day.”

Naval Today Staff, June 13, 2012; Image: US Navy