Did you know: USS Arkansas fights beside Texas during D-Day

    9:41 PM, Jun 6, 2013   |    comments
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    UNDATED (CNN/KTHV) -- Sixty-nine years ago today, the great Allied invasion of Europe began in Normandy, France.

    It was a huge undertaking, the largest amphibious landing ever attempted with paratroopers jumping beforehand behind enemy lines.

    There was a lot riding on it, whether the Allies would be able to gain a footing in France and push their way toward Germany, easing pressure on the Soviet Union and the Eastern Front.

    The fighting was intense, but ultimately it did succeed and history was made.

    What you may not have know was that an armada of 2,727 ships was assembled from 12 nations, and among those was the USS Arkansas battleship. It had been commissioned in 1912 and was slated to be scrapped until D-Day came along, and the ship's big guns were needed.

    The mission was to open fire on the German controlled beaches code named Omaha. It would be joined by the oldest ship in the fleet-- the USS Texas. That's right. D-Day on Omaha Beach began with the Arkansas and Texas side by side, blasting away in one last major assault. No rivalry. Just two old battleships giving it everything they had.

    Michael Hopper is curator of the Arkansas Inland Museum in North Little Rock, where you can still find a few remnants of the Battleship Arkansas. The collection consists of a few pictures, trophies from athletic teams from the ship, and some equipment.

    Other than finding the odd thing here or there in an antique store or come up in auction from someone's private collection, there's not a lot of things out there, but there is one artifact that the entire state is familiar with.

    You see in 1912, there was no flag to fly on the new battleship. So, the daughters of the American Revolution in Arkansas staged a contest to see who could come up with a winning design for an Arkansas flag.

    Willie Kavanaugh Hocker of Wabbaseka had the winning design, and she came up with the Arkansas Flag as we know it today, and it was flag first seen in 1912 on the USS Arkansas.

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