CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History (WVDACH) will observe the 80th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor for National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day on Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021, with an exhibit at the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex, in Charleston. The new exhibit will feature a scale model of the USS West Virginia; a United States Navy Locket salvaged from the West Virginia; a China set used by naval officers in their wardroom; a West Virginia Flat Hat, c. 1940; and more. The exhibit will be on display until Monday, Dec. 27.
In addition to the new exhibit, visitors to the West Virginia State Museum, also located in the Culture Center, can view a permanent exhibit in the military corridor on the lower level which also features artifacts from the USS West Virginia, including the ship’s pilot wheel; the bell hung in the cage mast, c. 1922; the gyro compass; tampions; and a 10 ft. x 22 ft. United States flag from the ship, which was flown by crew members on the Tennessee after being anchored next to the West Virginia that day.
On Sunday, December 7, 1941, shortly before 0800, the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service began their surprise attack on the Naval Station Pearl Harbor near Honolulu, Hawaii. The attack killed 2,403 Americans and injured 1,178. The attack sank four U.S. Navy battleships, including the USS West Virginia and damaged four others. It also damaged three cruisers, three destroyers and one minelayer. Aircraft losses included 188 destroyed and 159 damaged. The USS West Virginia lay moored at Pearl Harbor with 40 feet of water beneath her keel. The battleship was hit by seven 18-inch aircraft torpedoes and two bombs. The quick work of Lieutenant Claude V. Ricketts, who began counterflooding, prevented the ship from capsizing. It was not long before the ship sank, settling to the bottom on an even keel. The crew continued to fight fires and remove the wounded. Two officers and 102 men lost their lives. In the weeks after the attack, efforts to salvage West Virginia commenced. After patching the massive holes in the hull, the battleship was refloated on May 17, 1942.
An online exhibit of the USS West Virginia featured by the West Virginia Archives and History also can be viewed at http://archive.wvculture.org/history/usswv/usswv.html.
For more information on this exhibit, contact Charles Morris, WVDACH director of museums, at Charles.W.Morris@wv.gov or (304) 558-0220.