Researcher recounts link between the USS Maine and USS Arizona

James F. Burns

On this Pearl Harbor Day, the story of my father, now deceased, provides a link between two ships, the USS Maine and the USS Arizona, which suffered a similar fate in different wars.

My father was born in 1898, the same year that the USS Maine was blown up in Havana harbor, taking 266 sailors to a watery grave in the most epic event of the Spanish-American War. My father served in WW I on the replacement ship, the USS Maine II, which also saw war-time service in Cuban waters.

A man named Howard Keniston also served in WW I and, like my father, got married after the war and had two sons. Both Burns and Keniston grew up in Cincinnati — but never knew each other until, by chance, my father bought our first house from Howard, a small brick house on Clio Avenue in the Cincinnati suburb of Mt. Washington.

I was only two years old when the USS Arizona had its hull ripped open by a massive explosion, the ship sinking in a mere nine minutes. The 1,177 sailors and Marines who died accounted for nearly half of those who perished at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

Many years later I began having a haunting distant memory of one of my parents’ saying that we “bought our first house from a man who lost both his sons on the USS Arizona.” But by then, my parents were both...

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