WWII Vet Donates USS Oklahoma Key To Veterans Memorial - News9.com - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports |

WWII Vet Donates USS Oklahoma Key To Veterans Memorial

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J.C. Penwell was aboard the USS Oklahoma during the attack on Pearl Harbor. J.C. Penwell was aboard the USS Oklahoma during the attack on Pearl Harbor.
For 69 years Penwell has held on to the ship's clip room key, and now he is donating it to the Oklahoma Veterans Museum. For 69 years Penwell has held on to the ship's clip room key, and now he is donating it to the Oklahoma Veterans Museum.

Gan Matthews, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- J.C. Penwell admitted his memory is fading, but he has no trouble recalling the events of December 7, 1941.

Eighty-nine-year-old Penwell was a Gunner's Mate aboard the USS Oklahoma when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. An explosion blew him overboard, but he survived the attack and World War II.

For 69 years Penwell, who now lives in a Veterans Center near Springfield, Missouri, has hung onto the key to his ship's clip room. That's the room where fuses were loaded onto .50 caliber machine gun shells. Penwell said it's been a sort of good luck charm.

"It got me through Guadalcanal, and the Coral Sea battle, and the Midway battles," Penwell said. "Not a wound of all of any kind."

But Tuesday at a Pearl Harbor Ceremony in Oklahoma City, Penwell donated his clip room key to the Oklahoma Veterans Memorial. The key will be placed in a display case at the Oklahoma History Center.

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