USS Utah BB-31/AG-16
This is on my bucket list if /when I get to Pearl Harbor.
It is located on Ford Island. You need an ID card to get on ford Island. AMERICAN HISTORY!
SOMETHING YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW!
LITTLE KNOWN FACTS ABOUT THE USS UTAH!
Though the USS Utah BB-31 was reclassified and demilitarized into a target ship ten years prior to the Pearl Harbor attack, that didn’t save her from suffering the wrath of the Japanese.
In the early minutes of the assault, the USS Utah was struck by two torpedoes and started flooding. From a crew of 525…64 officers and Sailors were lost before she capsized.
Today, the USS Utah Memorial is open only to military personnel, making it difficult for the public to know about her history and sinking.
For a little insight into the USS Utah, here a few little known facts about the former battleship, her crew, and her fate during the Pearl Harbor attack.
THE HERO OF THE USS UTAH!
There were many heroes on 7 December 1941, but there are a select few who stand out among the thousands who experienced the attack.
On the USS Utah, one Sailor literally gave everything he had for his shipmates, he had lived with and served beside.
Peter Tomich served as A Chief Watertender on the USS Utah and during the attack was stationed in the ship’s boiler room. As the former battleship started to flood with water, Chief Tomich refused to leave his fellow shipmates behind, and he remained below to guarantee everyone made it out.
Sadly, his decision was made as the USS Utah was capsizing, and as the last of the crew escaped, Chief Tomich remained at his station. For his selfless actions, Chief Tomich received our nation’s most prestigious award, the Medal of Honor.
RECLASSIFICATION OF THE USS UTAH!
Ten years before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the USS Utah was reclassified and turned into a target ship.
Once listed as BB-31, she was reclassified as AG-16, a training ship, and was equipped with antiaircraft guns for training purposes while her primary and secondary weapons were removed.
By 1 April 1932, after all of the modifications were made, she was recommissioned and returned to service. After several training exercises, by June of 1935, she was modified again, this time with 1.1” / 75 caliber antiaircraft guns for experimental testing.
Her last transfer occurred in September 1941, when she was moved from the Puget Sound Navy Yard to Pearl Harbor, where her remains still sit today.
Nancy Lynne Wagner may have had nothing to do with the attack on Pearl Harbor, but for over 70 years, her remains have been entombed within the ship.
Serving aboard the USS Utah was Chief Yeoman Albert Wagner, who prior to the attack had suffered the loss of a baby girl at birth.
Nancy died before she had the chance to live her life and to honor his girl, Chief Wagner intended to scatter her ashes at sea when the USS Utah left the harbor, but the attack took that opportunity away from him.
Though Chief Wagner survived the USS Utah’s destruction, he never returned for his daughter, instead choosing to allow the urn to remain in his locker on board the ship.
Though it wasn’t the beautiful Pacific, she was in a place that her father had appreciated and served courageously.