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Why Navy History Matters to Arizona

By Naval History and Heritage Command Communication and Outreach Division

The Grand Canyon State has more ties to the U.S. Navy than one might initially think. For starters, there are at least 30 ships named after cities, places, people, and American Indian tribes of Arizona. Possibly the most famous is the battleship USS Arizona (BB 39), which was sunk during the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. But did you know that the first U.S. Navy ship to be named Arizona was actually a screw steamer from 1859? Not actually named after the state (because Arizona wasn’t admitted to the Union as a state in 1912), it is believed that the screw steamer Arizona was named from a term coined by melding the words arid and zone, to designate the dry area in the southwestern United States. However, some authorities maintain that the name was derived from the Aztec Indian word Arizuma, which can be translated as “silver bearing.” There are two ships named after the state’s capital including USS Phoenix (CL 46), a Brooklyn-class cruiser that earned nine battle stars for World War II service. There are 14 ships named after seven of the 22 India tribes of Arizona.

The state can also be proud of hometown heroes like CTC (EXW/IDW/SW) Christian M. Pike who lost his life in 2013 from combat-related injuries while conducting stability operations in Afghanistan with Naval Special Warfare (NSW) Support Activity 1 (SA-1). Pike was described as “exactly the type of person that you want as a shipmate.” He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star with Valor. Check out the infographic for more of Arizona’s ties with the U.S. Navy.

For a list of events during 2016’s Navy Week Phoenix and more, visit http://www.outreach.navy.mil/Navy-Weeks.

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