Guns for WWII memorial arrive in Phoenix

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by Steve Bodinet & AP

Video report by Steve Bodinet

Posted on April 20, 2012 at 5:58 PM

Updated Friday, Apr 20 at 7:31 PM

PHOENIX (AP) -- Two guns, including one from the USS Arizona, arrived in Phoenix on Friday for a planned state World War II memorial.

Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett led a ceremony at the Capitol in Wesley Bolin Plaza celebrating their arrival.

"Today is a special day in our effort to build a memorial that honors the sacrifice of our WWII veterans," said Secretary Bennett. 

The gun barrels from the Arizona and the USS Missouri were delivered by railcar. Veterans of both battleships were honored at the event.

"We're thrilled that BNSF has delivered such important elements of the monument to Phoenix. Without the company’s help and commitment to honoring our veterans this project would not have been possible."

Both vessels served as flagships of the U.S. Navy and represent the Alpha and the Omega of the United State's participation in history's largest, most costly war. 

On December 7th, 1941 the Arizona was sunk by Japanese planes as it lay anchored in Pearl Harbor. More than 1,100 Sailors and Marines lost their lives when a bomb hit the ship's powder magazine and exploded. 

Four years later the war ended when the Japanese surrendered aboard the Missouri in Tokyo Bay.

"We were just waiting for the Japanese to come aboard." said Jack Brock who was a young sailor serving aboard the Missouri the day the war officially ended. He's thrilled the big guns of the big battleships are going to be displayed in Phoenix.

The cannon from the Arizona wasn't aboard the ship when it sunk. It was on the mainland being refurbished. It later served on the USS Nevada and supported the D-Day invasion of Europe.

Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza is home to many memorials including: WWI, the Korean War, Vietnam, Desert Shield, and Desert Storm, but does not include a dedicated memorial for the fallen soldiers from WWII.

The plan is to bookend the USS Arizona's anchor, already in place at the Capitol, with the cannons by December 7, 2012. 

Private donations have raised $250,000 of the proposed total cost of $500,000.

Corporate donations of services are expected to cover significant portions of the work.

World War II Memorial Project
For more information, visit www.gunstosalutethefallen.com.

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