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Lorraine Marks-Haislip has devoted years to seeking artifacts from the USS Arizona to bring to the Arizona State Capitol Museum.
She is historian [retired] for the USS Arizona Reunion Association, made up of former ship crew members and their families.
by David Parrish, Arizona Republic
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Lorraine Marks-Haislip with recovered bronze statue.
     When the USS Arizona sank in 1941 during the attack on Pearl Harbor, a treasured sculpture of a frontier-era miner was presumed lost.
     A Sun City West grandmother found it.
     Lorraine Marks-Haislip, a 75-year-old widow of a former crew member of the ill-fated warship, learned through tireless research that the sculpture and other long-sought-after artifacts were packed away and forgotten in a U.S. Navy warehouse.
     In the two years since the amateur historian made the discovery, the Arizona State Capitol Museum has been trying to cut through red tape and have the 40-inch bronze miner returned to Arizona.
     The museum also wants 23 sports trophies and two awards that once were the pride of the ship's crew.
     "The miner definitely belongs to the state, because it was given to the ship in 1916," Marks-Haislip said.
     The sculpture was given to the USS Arizona shortly after the ship was built to serve as a link between the state and the ship that bore its name.
     During ceremonies, especially in foreign ports, the miner and the state flag were prominently displayed.
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Structure now on display Arizona State Capitol Museum.
     Few have worked harder or more effectively thank Marks-Haislip to locate USS Arizona artifacts.
     Her deceased husband, Edward Marks, was a USS Arizona crew member on leave when the ship was sunk. Charles Haislip, her current husband, served on the ship before transferring to submarine duty.
     After her first husband died in 1986, Marks-Haislip became the historian for the USS Arizona Reunion Association, made up of former crew members and their families.
     They meet annually around Dec. 7 in Tucson to honor those who served and died aboard the legendary battleship.
     "When it came to retirement I couldn't see myself sitting down and knitting," said Marks-Haislip, who has five daughters, seven grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.
     Throughout the years she has uncovered the ship's logs and manifests, all once thought lost to time or sea.
     In 1991 Marks-Haislip followed up a rumor that part of the ship's superstructure still existed.
     She eventually found a section discarded in a jungle of weeds near Pearl Harbor. A 500-pound section is now on display in the State Capitol Museum.
     Marks-Haislip found the miner sculpture and the trophies through a combination of persistence and luck.
     "The bronze minder had not been seen since before the war," she said. "Those men who survived the Arizona said they didn't know what happened to the trophies; they thought they went down with the ship."
     Marks-Haislip thought some sports trophies might still exist, so she visited ports of call where the USS Arizona spent time.
     "Oh, I checked in Long Beach, San Francisco and the Puget Sound," she said.
     While touring a small naval museum in Bremerton, Wash., she asked the volunteer on duty if she had ever seen a sports trophy from the USS Arizona.
     "She said, 'Yes, we have one of those,'" Marks-Haislip recalled.
     For possible leads on the others trophies Marks-Haislip was told to check with the Naval Historical Center in Washington D.C.
     She called there, and an employee combed through the old records, eventually finding the location where a collection of the sports trophies were stored.
     "He said, 'By the way, I also have something here that seems to belong to the state of Arizona,'" Marks-Haislip said.
     That's how the bronze miner was found.
     Just before the USS Arizona sailed to its fate at Pearl Harbor, the sculpture and the trophies were taken off the ship for safe storage, Marks-Haislip said.
     With the sinking of the ship and the death of most of its officers, the memory of that transfer was lost.
     Marks-Haislip isn't finished trying to track down pieces of the USS Arizona's history.
     She also has found one of the ship's massive deck-gun barrels - 54 feet in length and weighing 63 tons - in a Virginia storage yard. The barrel has been there since about 1929, when the ship underwent a refitting.
     Michael Carman, State Capitol Museum director, said he has been calling and writing the Naval Historical Center in Washington, D.C. imploring officials to permanently loan the miner sculpture and trophies to the museum.
     "I don't think there is any reluctance by the Navy," CArman said. "We are just not a high priority."
     The discovery of the massive deck-gun barrel by Marks-Haislip presents an entirely different challenge for Carmen.
     "The problem is, what do I do with it, how do I get it out here?" laughed Carman. "She's the type of volunteer that all museum directors love to have in their corner.
     Since the USS Arizona was sunk Dec. 7, 1941, in the surprise attack that brought the United States into World War II, Arizona has assumed the role of preserving the battleship's history and honoring the 1, 177 crew members who were killed.
     The ship's anchor is on display at the Capitol's Wesley Bolin Plaza.
     The USS Arizona's elaborate silver service set - financed in part by donations from Arizona children - is displayed in the State Capitol Museum with other artifacts from the ship.
     They are on permanent loan from the Navy, which usually insists on keeping ownership.
     Three years ago the Navy tried to reclaim some of the silver service for the newly launched USS Tucson, but a local uproar stopped that effort.
     Survivors of the USS Arizona such as Don Stratton of Yuma, said the bronze miner and trophies belong in Arizona - where they are wanted - not packed away inside an East Coast warehouse.
     "You ask the kids today about Pearl Harbor, and no one knows anything about it," said Stratton, who suffered burns over 60 percent of his body escaping the doomed ship. "History gets lost just like these artifacts, and everybody forgets about it."


Copyright 2002-2018 Lorraine Marks-Haislip