USS Oklahoma Memorial Project On Track For December Dedication

Sunday, October 7th 2007, 6:41 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Stone is being cut, vehicles have been donated and airline tickets have been obtained.

With nine weeks to go, not being ready for the December 7 dedication of the USS Oklahoma Memorial in Hawaii is not an option for organizers.

``Ground work at the memorial site is 75 percent complete,'' said Sen. Jim Reynolds, a member of the memorial committee.

``We are on a tight timetable, but we are refusing to accept any failure. We want it done 100 percent.''

Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City, began working on the memorial in 2001 with those who survived the USS Oklahoma, said.

The dedication will come 66 years after the USS Oklahoma capsized when it was attacked by Japanese aircraft in Pearl Harbor, killing 429 sailors and Marines. The unexpected aerial assault propelled the United States into World War II.

``It is going to happen, and it is set in fast-setting concrete,'' said Tucker McHugh, an Edmond banker and co-chairman of the memorial committee. ``All the wheels are in motion ... airlines, tickets.''

The granite and marble for the memorial is being cut and engraved at EuroCraft, a Glenpool-based marble and stone fabrication company.

Reynolds said plans are to have a special ceremony at the state Capitol this month, when stone for the memorial will be shipped to Hawaii.

McHugh, a former naval commander, said trucking companies have donated vehicles to take the marble and granite to California, where it will be shipped to Hawaii. The plan is to have everything at Ford Island in Pearl Harbor by Nov. 1, he said.

Rear Adm. Greg Slavonic, co-chairman of the memorial committee, said it will take four to five days to ship the marble and granite to Honolulu. EuroCraft will send people to Hawaii to erect the memorial after the stone arrives, Slavonic said.

Johann Skaftason, president of EuroCraft, said each of the 429 pieces of white marble will be engraved with the name of one of those killed Dec. 7, 1941. Each piece of black granite will have text about the memorial on it, McHugh said.

The memorial committee recently received a $250,000 check from the Oklahoma Centennial Commission for costs associated with the memorial. A year ago, the centennial commission gave $100,000 for the memorial.

The committee's original goal was to raise at least $1 million, but McHugh said last week the actual cost may be about $1.1 million.

As of Friday, the memorial committee had received $995,000 in private and public funds.