History behind Wildcats’ USS Arizona uniforms on 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor raid


Editor’s note: The photos displayed on this page are taken from a video released by the Arizona football program. A memorial of the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor and sinking of U.S.S. Arizona will take place Saturday night when Arizona hosts Hawaii. The University of Arizona revealed Wednesday the special uniform that will be worn by the Wildcats.


Dateline, Dec. 7, 1941 … at 7:55 a.m. Hawaii time, Japanese fighter planes attacked the U.S. base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. … The assault, which lasted less than two hours, claimed the lives of more than 2,400 people, wounded 1,000 more and damaged or destroyed nearly 20 American ships and more than 300 airplanes. The death toll of American soldiers on the USS Arizona was placed at 1,177. Almost half of the casualties at Pearl Harbor occurred on the naval battleship, which was hit four times by Japanese bombers. …


Description of the ship on the day of its christening in 1915 at the Brooklyn navy yard, as researched from the Arizona library’s special collections newspaper clippings: “Red above her waterline and gray below, the Arizona lay in her cradle on the ways held only by the hydraulic trigger, the release of which will set loose the cradle and sliding ways, and send her sliding into her element. The guard of yard police about the ways was increased and precautions were taken to prevent anything happening to the new dreadnought.”

USS Arizona almost a year before it was attacked at Pearl Harbor, near Seattle (NavSource.org photo)

USS Arizona almost a year before it was attacked at Pearl Harbor, near Seattle (NavSource.org photo)

The ship was launched on June 19, 1915, at the Brooklyn navy yard. Miss Esther Ross, of Prescott, (center in picture) christened the ship as commissioned by Arizona Gov. George W.P. Hunt, along with the traditional champagne, with a bottle of water from the Roosevelt Dam (located northeast of Phoenix), which was completed in 1911 but which took until April 15, 1915 to fill. Construction continued on the U.S.S. Arizona and the ship was commissioned on October 17, 1916.

(NavSource.org photo)

(NavSource.org photo)


The hull number is the serial identification number given to a boat or ship by the military.

The last "At 'Em Arizona" newsletter published by the USS Arizona (National Park Service)

The last “At ‘Em Arizona” newsletter published by the USS Arizona (National Park Service)



Description by the Los Angeles Times of two American soldiers of the 47th Pursuit Squadron going on the attack of Japanese aircraft at Pearl Harbor: “The Japanese attack destroyed or damaged most of the planes at Wheeler and Hickam fields. But the 47th Pursuit Squadron had been temporarily assigned to gunnery practice and its planes were at Haleiwa Field, an auxiliary air strip on Oahu’s North Shore about 10 miles away (from Pearl Harbor). Lt. Kenneth M. Taylor recalled that he told his fellow squadron mate, 2nd Lt. George Welch, to get Taylor’s car while he called the field at Haleiwa to get their P-40 fighters armed, fueled and ready to go. Taylor and Jones then raced to Haleiwa in Taylor’s new Buick, avoiding being strafed by enemy machine-gun fire as they drove. After reaching the small airfield, they quickly took off. Taylor and Welch, according to a 2001 Air Force Times account, first spotted a group formation of unarmed American B-17 bombers flying in from the mainland. But as the two pilots neared a Marine Corps airfield at Ewa, they encountered a group of Japanese planes.”We just got in line with them and started shooting them down, and ultimately ran out of ammunition,” Taylor recalled.



Among the 1,177 sailors who perished on the USS Arizona were many of whom made up the ship’s football team. Players on the USS Arizona football team were accorded special privileges, including help in advancement and rating, so they would remain happy and stay with the ship. The big year for football was 1935. All-American Buzz Borries put the finishing touch on a team that was talented already. Enlisted men such as Carl Gleason, Charles Rourk, and John Hostinksky had been on the squad since the ship went back into service in 1931. The coach was Lt. Hank Hardwick who later coached the Naval Academy. The team played in the Greater Northwest Football Association. It also went by the nickname of the “Jack Tars”.


The 48-star flag signifies Arizona becoming the 48th state in 1912, which spurred the construction of the USS Arizona.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt declaration of war: “Yesterday, December 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy, the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”

The USS Arizona after it was struck and sunk (NavSource.org photo)

The USS Arizona after it was struck and sunk (NavSource.org photo)


(University of Arizona photo)

(University of Arizona photo)

The bell arrived on campus in July 1946. On Nov. 17, 1951 the bell was rung for the first time in the clock tower of the Memorial Student Union Building. The bell was rung on special occasions for the next 50 years until that clock tower and Student Union were razed to make way for the present day facility completed in 2002. The bell was installed in this clock tower on Aug. 16, 2002. This bell is to be rung seven times on the third Wednesday of every month at 12:07 p.m. to honor the achievements of the University of Arizona and its community. It is traditionally rung by the Student Body President on the Sunday before Pearl Harbor Day, on the Student Union’s birthday (Nov. 18), and after Wildcat athletic victories (over any team except other Arizona schools). The other original bell is on display at the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

The athletics department is asking fans to enter the stadium by 7:40 p.m. on Saturday in order to take part in a memorable National Anthem, coin toss presentation, and halftime tribute to recognize, remember and honor the memory of the U.S.S. Arizona and its officers and crewmen, including the 1,177 who lost their lives on Dec. 7, 1941. The game presentation will also include a moment during the game to thank all veterans in attendance.

As part of this remembrance, Arizona Athletics has extended a special invitation to all active and retired military to join us at the game. All active and retired military can purchase tickets to this game at 50% off. A military ID must be presented in person at the McKale Ticket Office to receive this discounted price. Other restrictions apply. For more information, call (520) 621-CATS (2287).

Activities will include:

Game Program: There will be a special edition of the game program including a commemorative cover, information on the University of Arizona’s connection to the U.S.S. Arizona, and a list containing the names of the 1,177 crewmen and officers, who lost their lives aboard the U.S.S. Arizona.

World War II veteran as part of the USS Arizona crew, Lauren Bruner

World War II veteran as part of the USS Arizona crew, Lauren Bruner

National Anthem: It will include U.S.S. Arizona survivor Lauren Bruner, a giant U.S. flag on the field presented by members of the UA’s ROTC programs, the national anthem performed by a current UA ROTC cadet, and a skydiver.

Team Entrance: The Arizona football team will enter the field carrying a 48-star U.S. internment flag. The flag will be presented at midfield to Bruner prior to the coin toss.

Coin Toss: The coin toss will use the squadron commander’s coin from the 47th fighter squadron, stationed at Davis-Monthan. The 47th fighter squadron was originally the 47th Pursuit Squadron, and was assigned to Wheeler Field, Hawai’i. The squadron was credited with shooting down eight Japanese aircraft on Dec. 7, 1941, in defense of Pearl Harbor. Joining us to present the squadron coin on behalf of the 47th fighter squadron is Colonel Scott Campbell, Commander of the 355th Fighter Wing at DM Air Force Base.

WE REMEMBER Halftime: Bruner and several World War II veterans will be part of the on-field ceremony to remember Pearl Harbor, to pay tribute to those lost during the attack and the subsequent world war, and to be honored for their military service to our country. These distinguished guests will be joined by UA President Ann Weaver Hart, UA Director of Athletics Greg Byrne, and the Pride of Arizona.

Video tribute of USS Arizona


ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.

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