Post 71 Receives Treasured Artifact
By Richard A. Flippo Sr.
CDR, USNR (ret.)
Beginning in February 2015, Commander (CDR) Richard Flippo began working on a project for Jesse C. Lynch American Legion Post 71 of North Augusta, S.C. Flippo contacted an acquaintance with the U.S. National Park Service, which was the curator of the USS Arizona memorial in Hawaii to gain a piece of Arizona for display at Post 71’s museum. After several unsuccessful attempts via email and telephone, Flippo was able to learn the name and contact data for the U.S. Navy’s department responsible for maintaining the USS Arizona memorial.
Ordered: 4 March 1913
Builder: Brooklyn Navy Yard
Laid down: 16 March 1914
Launched: 19 June 1915
Commissioned: 17 October 1916
Decommissioned: 29 December 1941
Struck: 1 December 1942
Identification: Hull number: BB-39
Fate: Sunk in Attack on Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941
In July 2015, Flippo made a trip to Hawaii partially in hopes of meeting with the appropriate personnel to secure an artifact for the museum. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances his contacts at the National Park Service and the Navy were unavailable for meetings.
A number of letters and emails to the Navy also proved fruitless. Finally, he was told that a person of authority from the post’s museum would have to contact the Navy directly in order to initiate the process and before anything could be released. Post 71 Commander Ralph Wainwright initiated letter-writings on post letterhead stationary in attempts to obtain an artifact for the post’s museum. With the concurrence of Wainwright, Flippo contacted Sen. Tim Scott, the junior senator for the state of South Carolina, who made appropriate inquiries and was able to expedite the process.
Finally, after much delay, the artifact was received barely in time for the post’s annual birthday celebration. On March 11, 2016, Wainright made a surprise announcement of the gift of a piece of deck plate from USS Arizona to the museum of Jesse C. Lynch American Legion Post 71.
As we all know, Arizona was lost on Dec. 7, 1941, when a Japanese bomb fell in the vicinity of Turret II, likely penetrating the armored deck near the ammunition magazines located in the forward section of the ship. The subsequent explosion killed 1,177 of the 1,512 crewmen on board at the time, more than half of the lives lost during the Dec. 7 attack.
Several of the ship’s gun turrets and most of the superstructure were removed, but when it was destroyed it carried an estimated ½ million (500,000) gallons of oil. It is estimated that it is linking 8 to 9 quarts per day, and there is an urban legend that the oil leak will stop when the last Pearl Harbor survivor dies.
National Archives and Records Administration, File: USS Arizona after 1931 modernization NARA 19-LC- 19B-1.tif.
Naval History and Heritage Command, 80-G-K-13513 Pearl Harbor Attack, http://www.history.navy.mil/our-collections/photography/wars-and-events/... harbor-raid/battleship-row-during-the-pearl-harbor-attack/uss-arizona-during-the-pearl-harbor- attack/80-G-K-13513.html
Personal Photographs of CDR Richard A. Flippo Sr. may not be used without his expressed consent. (I do hereby consent and allow these personal photographs to use in and reproduced by the national American Legion in conjunction with the printing of this article in its national magazine.)