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Mesa military museum putting artifact from USS Arizona on display

(Photo courtesy of Bobbie Carleton/Airbase Arizona Museum)

PHOENIX — A historic artifact with Arizona ties will be displayed at the Airbase Arizona Museum in Mesa.

Guests will be able to see a metal piece from the deck of the USS Arizona battleship that sunk after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. It will be displayed Friday starting at 1 p.m.

“We believe that this is such a significant artifact of World War II with very special ties to the state of Arizona and also very special ties to the history of military aviation,” said Bobbie Carleton, the museum’s director.

The metal piece is about 5 feet high and 3 feet wide. It’s a section of the deck of the USS Arizona that was removed in the 1960s to make way for the visitor bridge.

It was stored in a U.S. Navy storage yard in Hawaii. The museum requested the piece and was approved.

Carleton called the Pearl Harbor attack “a watershed moment in combat aviation.” Nearly 1,200 sailors and marines died during the attack, catapulting the United States into WWII.

“This gives us a tremendous opportunity to educate the public about these important events in American history,” Carleton said.

She added it’s also an opportunity to “inspire others to serve their country and to honor the sacrifice of these Americans who fought the most destructive war of all time and brought peace to the world.”

The USS Arizona artifact will be just one of dozens in the Airbase Arizona Museum.

“We have a 30,000-square-foot museum that is full of aircrafts and artifacts that are representative of 100 years of military aviation, starting with World War I,” Carleton said.

The museum’s flying collection of warplanes includes the B-17 Flying Fortress “Sentimental Journey” and B-25 Mitchell “Maid in the Shade.”

The museum, located at Greenfield and McKellips roads, is one of 80 units of the Commemorative Air Force, and it’s run almost entirely by volunteers.

Summer hours, which are in effect until Sept. 30, are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays.

Tickets prices are $15 for adults, $5 for children 12 and under and $12 for seniors 62 and older.

Admission is always free for kids under 5, active military members and disabled veterans.

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