Elvis and the USS Arizona (2021) Movie Script

Even now,
you sense them here,
resting at the bottom
of Pearl Harbor
on the battleship
U.S.S. Arizona.
Over 900 crewmen entombed
for eternity
below her shattered decks.

Their once personal possessions
come into view in the warm,
silty, green Pacific water.

Nearby, fuel oil
still rises to the surface
every four minutes
from Arizona's sunken hull,
one drop at a time.
one drop at a time.
Machinist's Mate
Ardenne Allen Woodward was
stationed on the U.S.S. Arizona.
"Bill," as he was better known
to his crewmates,
was worried about what lay ahead
in the Pacific in late 1941,
concerns he shared frequently
with his wife, Virginia,
and new daughter, Karen,
back in Huntington Beach,
November 14, 1941,
somewhere at sea.
My very own precious darling
wife and baby.
Darling, I am not sure, but I am
afraid this Japan situation is
going to hold up our going back
to the States for a while.
Oh, my darling,
I do love you so terribly much,
and I would give anything
in the world to see you
and take you in my arms
and tell you how terribly much
I miss you.
Darling, I have already picked
out your Christmas present.
No, I won't tell you what it is.
It has to be
ordered from the States,
so I'm going to wait
until around the 5th of December
to order it
and then have it sent
directly to you from the store
instead of from out here.
Your own, Bill.
Above the U.S.S. Arizona
today, the events of
December 7, 1941, slowly come
into focus.
The idea of memorializing
this battleship didn't go away
after World War II was over,
but it would take time --
a lot of time -- to figure out
how to do it properly.
Eventually, thanks to
the determination of a small
and diverse group of people,
efforts to honor the
U.S.S. Arizona
and her fallen crew
with a memorial were realized.
On that short list of names
who helped to ensure that
Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941,
and the U.S.S. Arizona
would always be remembered
was a young, charismatic singer
from Mississippi.
They called him the
King of Rock 'n' Roll.

We interrupt this program
to bring you a special news
The United States of America
was suddenly and deliberately
was suddenly and deliberately
In his Provo, Utah, home,
Ken Potts is surrounded
by memories of December 7, 1941,
and his battleship,
the U.S.S. Arizona.
That's my best friend
who was killed.
On that Sunday morning of
infamy, as the Japanese attack
the Arizon young
crane operator was in Honolulu.
I was ashore.
I stayed overnight the night
I was ashore,
and there was horns honking
and sirens going and everything.
And then turned the radio on
that said all Navy personnel,
get back to their ships.
The attack apparently was
made on all naval
and military activities
on the principal island of Oahu.
Ordinarily, at that time of
day, there was nothing going on,
much moving, but that morning,
there was plenty of movement,
and it was on
all the loudspeakers,
all the radios,
everything had the tag that
"This is real.
This is not a drill.
This is the real thing."
Ken Potts made it back
onto the U.S.S. Arizona
to do what he could,
but by 8:06 a.m.,
the fate of the battleship
was sealed.
A Japanese bomb had ignited
the Arizon forward
ammunition storage compartment.
Bodies and steel vaporized.
When I got back
to Pearl Harbor, the whole
harbor was afire.
The oil had leaked out
and caught on fire
and was burning.
They had ships fighting
the fire, tugs.
That's when they got on
the loudspeaker and said,
"Abandon ship."
And they'd go -- some of them
jumped in the water.
Some of them didn't make it.
The Japanese hit us hard
at Pearl Harbor.
The attack on Pearl Harbor
united Americans as never before
in history.
Arizo crewman Ken Potts
was not the only person
looking on in horror
on the morning of December 7,
Oahu resident Mildred Martin
witnessed scenes
that no 5-year-old girl
We seen the turmoil
that was going on
and the drama, and it was real,
because they were coming down,
fire landing right on the water.
[ Shuddered breathing,
sniffles ]
So hard.
And you could see them
in the water, floating,
and it wasn't a good scene.
It was frightening, scary.
And for me, being 5 years old
at that time,
my aunt said, "Let's go.
Come on, let's go."
So we did.
It was something that you can't
forget because you see the fire,
forget because you see the fire,
the planes,
and you could see the planes,
the Japanese planes coming down,
and you could see that red
logos that they have
on their planes,
and it -- it's something that
it'll stay with you forever.
My dad had just left
the Arizona.
He came home to take us
to my grandmother's house
for safety reasons
and to be there
and not to be in the line
of fire, where the fighting
was going on and so forth.
Then my father returned to work,
to Pearl Harbor.
My father was on the Arizona
that same morning
and had just left the Arizona
when all that happened.
And how he ever
got home is beyond me,
because he had to leave
Ford Island to come across
the way to -- to go to our home,
to take us to safety.
and family watched the attack
on Pearl Harbor, also.
My mother was living
with her father in Pearl Harbor.
He was in charge of the Navy
shipyard, and they were there
for the bombing at Pearl Harbor.
And my grandmother tells of,
you know, looking up
and seeing the Japanese plane
with the rising sun on it
and seeing the pilot.
And being a good Catholic,
they all gathered around
and said the Rosary.

The carnage left
almost 2,400 Americans dead.
Almost half of those killed
that morning, 1,177,
were on the battleship
U.S.S. Arizona.
Our visitors that come today,
they're shocked.
Sometimes had no idea of the,
you know, this story as immense
and as -- as deadly as it was,
that Pearl Harbor
was a catastrophe
for the United States
and for the Pacific Fleet.

Elvis Aaron Presley
was born in January of 1935
in Tupelo, Mississippi,
six years prior to Pearl Harbor.
Nobody knew from these
early photos that Elvis Presley
was on his way
to becoming a music legend,
a first name only needed
By 1956,
Elvis was already being referred
to as the fledgling king
of all rock 'n' roll.
Pearl Harbor and the
Pearl Harbor and the
U.S.S. Arizona
would become an important,
if lesser known, chapter of
the Elvis Presley story.
In 1949, as Elvis Presley
navigated his teenage years in
teaching himself to play guitar,
an organization called the
Pacific War Memorial Commission
was forming in Hawaii.
Their goal was to make sure
all those who died
on December 7, 1941,
on the island of Oahu
would be memorialized.
In 1950, not waiting on any
commission to act,
United States Admiral
Arthur Radford, commander and
chief of the United States
Pacific Fleet,
of Pearl Harbor, especially
those on the U.S.S. Arizona.
Admiral Radford
had the idea of memorializing
the wreck of the Arizona.
Now, it was -- been stripped
down to its main decks.
All the upper structure
had been removed.
And he built a platform,
like a deck-like structure there
with kind of banisters around
it, a speaking platform
and a flagpole.
And then, he also dedicated a
So, in 1950, the first memorial
to the Arizona is initiated
by the commanding admiral here.
Each day, Admiral Radford
had an American flag raised
and lowered on that makeshift
wooden platform
above the wreck of the Arizona.
Arthur Radford also had
a small plaque attached to the
wreckage of the U.S.S. Utah,
which also still lies
in Pearl Harbor,
off Ford Island.
Both ships were unsalvageable
and watery graves
for their crews.
As for the U.S.S. Arizona,
Arthur Radford's vision
was for something on a much
grander scale to be done
to recognize the more than
1,100 killed on the battleship.
But what would that memorial
look like?
It took several more years,
but a formal proposal for a new
U.S.S. Arizona memorial
was made to the
Pacific War Memorial Commission
by the 14th Navy District
in Hawaii.
In 1958, D-Day hero and now
President Dwight D. Eisenhower
gave his approval,
allowing the commission
to legally raise private funds
to construct a memorial
for the Arizona.
$500,000 was needed.
By the mid 1950s,
Elvis Presley had become
the biggest name in music.
The world had never seen
anything like Elvis,
who moved across the stage
like a gyrating tornado.
From Maine to California,
parents raised eyebrows
while their sons and daughters
danced and screamed.
Presley also topped
all the charts
Elvis mania
had taken over the islands.
had taken over the islands.
Everybody knows who he was.
I heard him on the radio
singing "Heartbreak Hotel."
And every five minutes,
I would hear him singing and
So that's what kicked things
off for me.
While Elvis was turning out
one hit after another,
the initial fundraising drive
for the U.S.S. Arizona memorial
limped along into late 1958.
Some private donations
came in here and there,
but it was nowhere near the goal
of a half million dollars.
Things change dramatically
on December 3, 1958.
That's when television host
Ralph Edwards visited
the U.S.S. Arizona to honor
one of the battleship's heroes.
His national TV show,
"This is Your Life,"
also filmed segments
inside Pearl Harbor's
famed venue Bloch Arena.
Ralph Edwards was asking
Americans to once again
remember Pearl Harbor,
17 years after America
was first attacked
and went to war.
"This Is Your Life,"
the program for all America.
And now here he is again,
Mr. This Is Your Life himself,
speaking to you from a Navy
tug lying Ford Island
in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii,
Ralph Edwards.
[ Applause ]
"This Is Your Life,"
Admiral Samuel Glenn Fuqua,
U.S. Navy, retired.
Thank you, and may God bless
Thank you, Ralph.
I appreciate all you...
[ Applause ]
Ladies and gentlemen of
America, we have the high honor
of helping to launch a project
nationally approved
by congressional resolution
to enshrine the U.S.S. Arizona
and provide here a fitting
monument to the memory
of the young Americans
who died here.
We're asking you to participate
in this project,
not out of your generosity
but out of your loyalty
to America, your patriotism.
A commission has been appointed
by the governor of the territory
of Hawaii to raise the funds,
and the Navy has been authorized
by Congress to accept
and to use the money
that comes in to enshrine
the U.S.S. Arizona.
Are there 1 million,
2 million, more, of you
out there in our audience
who will put a dollar bill
in an envelope right now?
Address it
and send it to U.S.S. Arizona,
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
You'll be helping to build
a national cemetery
for those who died for you
and lie here
in an unmarked grave.
And you'll be answering
the prayer closest to the heart
of Rear Admiral Samuel Fuqua,
U.S. Navy, retired,
and to the hearts of all the men
and women in all branches of the
service, to whom the very words
Pearl Harbor were a fighting
challenge that led them on to
And they initially got
$90,000 of money.
The idea was to honor
the memory of those
who had died at Pearl Harbor
on December 7th, 1941.
on December 7th, 1941.
Ralph Edwards knew
Medal of Honor recipient
Samuel Fuqua's leadership of
his crew on December 7, 1941,
would resonate with the public,
as do the voices still of
the men Fuqua commanded,
such as Bill Woodward.
November 18, 1941.
Pearl Harbor.
Honey, I sure hope
that they let me out of here
as soon as my time is up
instead of holding me
in a couple of months or so.
That would really be
the last straw.
I sure wish I could be with you
Thanksgiving Day, my sweet.
Your own, Bill.

With additional private funds
now available, thanks to
Ralph Edwards' efforts, the
Pacific War Memorial Commission
and the 14th Navy District
set out to hire an architect
to design the new U.S.S. Arizona
The most important thing
about this,
despite all of this fundraising,
what was the idea?
What was it going to look like?
And so there were a number of
people that entered a
Alfred Preis, an immigrant
from Nazi-occupied Vienna,
Austria, was chosen.
Alfred Preis' design
was not exactly what
they thought it was going to be,
yet it was provocative,
it was contemporary art.
And Alfred, being a refugee
himself from -- from Austria
and incarcerated with
Japanese Americans initially
because he was from an Axis
power so is at Sand Island
but proves to be a loyal guy
and ends up being an architect
for the Navy throughout the war,
he submits this design,
and the Navy said, "Make sure
it's a bridge-like structure."
So some of the architects
thought, "Oh, bridge-like
You mean like ship?"
And they built these pretty
interesting designs,
submitted those.
Alfred interpreted it
He thought of a suspension
bridge, and that's
what that memorial is.
I cannot think of any design
other than this one.
It is the
U.S.S. Arizona Memorial.
And so Alfred's genius
was prosecuting the idea
of a bridge-like structure
and leaving us with a symbol
unlike any other World War II
or monument in our country.
Those men are at peace now.
They lie together in the ship,
whether in remains or molecules.
They're there, and the men
that survive the ship,
you know, over 40 of them have
decided to go back to the ship.
The question that always
haunted me is, "Why?"
They felt, some of them, that
they were lucky, and they wanted
to rejoin their shipmates.
Each individual has a different
tone and a different acceptance
tone and a different acceptance
of that memorial.
And I've noticed that with
the veterans, and I've noticed
that with my colleagues.
Everyone has a little bit
different bent on what that
memorial design means and what
Alfred Preis intended.
Alfred Preis's approved
blueprints laid out a
184-foot-long, 36-foot-wide span
across the U.S.S. Arizona's
sunken hull.
The memorial would cross the
middle deck of the battleship
but not touch the Arizona
at any point.
Preis's design called for rises
at each end of the bridge-like
span with a sag in the middle.
The first rise would recognize
the height of American pride
before the war.
The dip in the middle signified
the low point of a nation
following Pearl Harbor.
The second rise represented
American power reaching new
heights after the war.
Vermont marble would be used.
A shrine room would host all
the names of all those crewmen
killed on December 7, 1941.
Some of Arizona's crew
also lie in unmarked graves
just a few miles away at
the National Memorial Cemetery
of the Pacific,
also called the Punchbowl.
The Walker Moody Construction
Company would build the
memorial, assisted by the
Pearl Harbor Public Works
Alfred Preis's plans
for the new U.S.S. Arizona
Memorial were approved.

The territory of Hawaii
in the 1950s was paradise
a mix of diverse people
and cultures.
We didn't live on the naval
base, so we were more attuned
to the rhythms of the classmates
that I went to school with.
We had Pacific Islanders,
Hawaiians, Japanese,
Chinese, haoles, kama'ainas --
we had them all at my little
school that I -- that I went to.
Elvis made his first trip
to perform in Hawaii
in late 1957,
prior to the islands
being granted statehood
two years later.
Hawaii had a special
kind of notch in Elvis's heart.
He liked coming here.
He liked the people here.
He liked the music.
He learned about slack-key
and other types -- ukulele --
and all of the things that we
as people that live here know
and local people have known
for years, that there was
music beyond the music.
Arizo crewman Bill Woodward
knew the local music well.
More than anything, though,
he just longed to be
with his young family.
November 22, 1941.
Pearl Harbor.
My very own precious darling
My very own precious darling
wife and baby.
Darling, I do love you so
terribly much.
And I can hardly wait
until I can sit around the house
with you in my arms
and getting in your way
when you're trying to cook
or something as I kiss you.
It will be so heavenly
when we do get together again.
Your own, Bill.

There was early fundraising
thanks to Ralph Edwards,
and some seed money
from the territory of Hawaii,
but the Pacific War Memorial
Commission soon realized
that, in addition
to private donations,
it would eventually need federal
or state contributions
to get the memorial finished.
In 1960, with construction
now underway,
only about half of the needed
$500,000 for the memorial
had been raised.
That's when the longtime editor
of The Honolulu Advertiser,
a World War II veteran himself,
stepped in to re-energize
George Chaplin,
he was editor for decades.
He was always very involved
in the community,
very civic-minded.
And there were --
The fundraising for the
Arizona Memorial was already
going on, but they didn't have
enough money.
The fundraising was lagging.
So what he did is,
he wrote a letter addressed,
"My dear fellow editor"
and sent it to about a 1,500
daily newspapers
across the country, asking them
for support writing articles
about the need to raise funds
for the Arizona Memorial,
and about a week or so later,
the editor of a Los Angeles
newspaper -- no longer being
published but called
the Los Angeles Examiner --
he wrote an editorial,
and Colonel Parker,
Elvis's manager,
saw it, and I guess immediately
called up George Chaplin
and offered to do
a fundraising concert.
Colonel Tom Parker
read the L.A. Examiner article
in late 1960.
Parker had been stationed with
the Army in Waikiki, Hawaii.
Earlier, in 1960,
his superstar client,
Elvis Presley,
of a two-year enlistment
in the United States Army.
I learned a lot.
I made a lot of friends that I
never would have made otherwise.
And, uh...I've had a lot of
good experiences.
In the spring of 1961,
Elvis Presley was set to begin
shooting a new feature film
on the Hawaiian island of Oahu,
called "Blue Hawaii."
Colonel Tom Parker,
with all the stars now aligning,
with all the stars now aligning,
felt here was an opportunity
for a patriotic Elvis to pitch
in while in Hawaii to help
the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial
And he saw that the editor
was calling for
a fundraising event
for the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial
to help raise moneys.
And all the editors throughout
the country were doing
these kind of editorials.
He read the editorial,
and he called the paper up,
and he said, "Hey, we're --
who's doing this, and all this?"
and, "Oh, it's in Hawaii, da da
Gives him a call, he says,
"Well, we're coming over to do a
Can Elvis do something to raise
And they came up with the idea
of a benefit concert.
Guess where.
Held at Bloch Arena.
Pearl Harbor Naval Station's
Bloch Arena was chosen
as the venue, the same
Bloch Arena, which hosted the
Ralph Edward show in 1958.
The arena also had ties to the
attack on Pearl Harbor itself.
Bloch had been the venue
in November and December of 1941
for something called
the Battle of Music.
The Battle of Music was
a competition between the bands
on the various battleships
anchored in Pearl Harbor,
especially those along
Battleship Row, off Ford Island.
The last Battle of Music
performance came on the night
of December 6, 1941,
at Bloch Arena.

Yes, sir

No, no, sir

Yes, sir
The U.S.S. Arizona's entire
21-member band
would be dead the next morning,
along with many of the musicians
on other battleships who
took part in the competition.
Plans were now coming together
for an Elvis Presley
U.S.S. Arizona Memorial benefit
Colonel Parker was,
you know -- he was --
he knew how to pull the strings.
And it wasn't hard, because,
you know, Elvis was
a very patriotic fellow, and --
and he loved the country.
You know, he had served
the country as a soldier.
And so he was the kind of
thing -- "Anything I can do."
And he thought it was
a good idea.
But I think Colonel Parker
thought it was also a good idea
for Elvis to come to Hawaii
and to get the publicity.
As you know, Elvis returns.
I mean, his return concert
was here.
It was like a place that he was
And in a way,
he was more sensitive now
to understanding World War II
since he wasn't in it and
understanding about this story.
I mean, the thing was, he was
shocked at how many people had
He didn't know.
The Navy was the one
that suggested Bloch Arena
right away.
And remember, they had
a backdrop for the Bloch Arena
because they had used it before
in the "This Is Your Life"
It was large enough to put
a big concert in,
and it had its ties back
to the days of Pearl Harbor,
with the last dance of the --
before the war.
You walk in there and you know
that the Arizona's band
once played there,
that every man in that band
was killed instantly
on December 7th.
And on that last night of peace,
the strains of that music
was coming across these waters.
Little did they know that,
the next day, the United States
would be plunged into war.
You go to Bloch Arena, and if
you blink your eyes twice,
you can go back to that time
period because you can actually
still see where the stage
was for Elvis's concert.
It was intimate.
And so if you had a ticket
for that, that was pretty neat
because you were close,
and you -- you could be
drowned out by the music
and watch Elvis wiggle.
March 25th was the date set
for the Bloch Arena
Elvis Presley show.
Tickets went on sale March 13,
26-year-old Elvis Presley
purchased the very first one.
It would be just his second
live performance
since leaving the Army.
Sue Holderman's father,
Charles Albert "Spike"
Hennessey, would play an
important role.
And my father was then
made the director of
the fundraising in his position
as director of the
14th Naval District in Hawaii.
He undertook it, of course,
because it was a very
worthy cause.
He worked very hard at
putting all the parts together
so that when Elvis
arrived the day of the concert
that everything was in place.
He was the go-to person
when Elvis or Colonel Parker
had any questions.
Any problems whatsoever, they
went to our -- my father.
Some 20 years earlier,
U.S.S. Arizona crewman
Bill Woodward was writing home
to his wife, Virginia,
and baby daughter Karen about
his new job on the battleship.
November 24, 1941.
Pearl Harbor.
My very own precious darling
wife and baby.
Darling, from now on,
be sure to address
all of my letters to M division
instead of B,
as I've been transferred along
with another machinist's mate
and eight firemen.
They transferred us because
they want some experienced men
in the engine rooms.
I sure will be glad when
the steamer comes in Wednesday.
I should have at least
three letters from you,
and I will read each
and every one of them six times.
and every one of them six times.
Just your own, Bill.
On March 25, 1961,
Elvis Presley stopped
for a few early morning photos
at the airport before departing
Los Angeles, California,
for Hawaii.
Pan American Flight 817
left L.A. early in the morning,
the start of what was going
to be a very long day.
On board was the King of
Rock 'n' Roll,
Colonel Tom Parker,
and a large entourage of
opening-act musicians and
support staff.
The flight took about six hours.
at Honolulu Airport around
12:15 that same afternoon.
A jet-lagged Elvis stepped off
the plane at 12:27.
It looks as if
it's Elvis Presley!
[ Crowd cheering ]
Elvis is getting off the plane.
He's shaking his head.
He's accompanied by quite
a few people there.
And they're all moving around
somewhere in form.
That's Hal Wallis right behind
Elvis Presley.
Elvis is wearing a very
conservative dark suit
this morning.
Thousands of fans had been
waiting hours to see him.
He was immediately weighed down
with leis.
It was flippin' crazy.
There were so many
And all of these fans welcome
And, see, it just -- it had a
buoyancy to it almost
immediately that, "Elvis is
He's going to give a concert.
We're going to build this
And so it had a life of its own.
And while he was here, this --
this town was on its heels.
My name is David English,
and I'm an author and researcher
on Elvis Presley books.
David English captured
the entire Elvis/U.S.S. Arizona
story from beginning to end
"Rock Around the Bloch!",
as in Bloch Arena.
The scene at the airport
was -- was amazing.
There was 3,000 teenagers
to receive Elvis.
And what happened was, the
regular passengers disembarked
from the front of the plane.
And there was, you know,
"Where's Elvis?"
He came out the back --
the back door,
where everyone just went wild.
And he traveled through all
the fans saying hello to him.
And he had leis put onto him.
And then he made his way
to a waiting limousine,
and they were driven
through Honolulu to the hotel.
And then, about quarter
to 4:00 in the afternoon,
he went to a press conference
with all the waiting reporters
and newsmen and some teenage --
school teenagers there.
The press conference
in the Carousel Room
at the Hawaiian Village
that same day at 3:45
was wild in its own right,
with reporters from 27 area
high schools among the more than
100 people in attendance.
One young schoolgirl
just wouldn't let go of Elvis.
just wouldn't let go of Elvis.
Colonel Parker had to step in.
Aloha. I guess you're
wondering why I called you here.
Tell you the truth, I can't tell
you right now because I don't
[ Laughter ]
And we got a show tonight.
Because, after all,
what Elvis is doing here
is for a very great cause.
And so I speak very briefly
but to the point
on behalf of the 1,177 men who
are entombed in the Arizona, and
on their behalf and on behalf of
the Pacific War Memorial
Commission, we want to thank
all who have played such a very
important part in this program
to be held tonight.
Everywhere Elvis went,
so did local promoter
and disc jockey Tom Moffatt.
Moffatt was legendary
in the islands for helping
the big acts get organized
when they came to Oahu.
I think that the most
important local connection
that really made this goal
was Tom Moffatt.
Tom Moffatt was a -- you know,
a guy that just promoted a lot
of things and brought bands in.
And now having Elvis
and being part of that --
the concerts.
He knew all of that.
Every night while I'm doing
my homework, I would listen
to --
I have a little transistor
I would listen to the radio.
And nothing but Elvis's song
all the time.
But every five minutes, Elvis.
And that's how I met
Tom Moffatt.
"Uncle Tom, please play Elvis.
Uncle Tom, please play Elvis."
Moffatt would make certain
the Bloch Arena show received
great publicity.
Elvis was in town, after all,
for a purpose -- to help ensure
all those on the U.S.S. Arizona,
such as crewman Bill Woodward,
would always have a place
in history.
November 26, 1941.
Pearl Harbor.
My very own precious darling
wife and baby.
Well, darling, we go to sea
again Friday for another week.
We will be back in
the 4th of December, I think.
I only hope that the next time
we go out,
we will be going to the States.
Well, darling, I must close
for tonight and go to bed
and have one of our dreams.
I only wish it could be real,
but it will be forever
one of these days.
Your own, Bill.
Tickets for the March 25th
were priced anywhere from $3
to $100.
My stepdad owned
a savings and loan.
And they bought one ticket,
and I was it.
And I told my mom and my dad,
my brothers and sisters,
"I have to go to this."
Because it was a fundraiser
for a new U.S.S. Arizona
memorial, everyone had to pay
that night to get in.
that night to get in.
Even Elvis's opening acts,
including Minnie Pearl,
Boots Randolph, and
The Jordanaires
had to buy tickets.
Elvis bought tickets for 30
patients at nearby
Tripler Military Hospital.
The rest of the seats at
Bloch Arena had sold out fast.
Unfortunately, Sue Holderman
didn't have a ticket
to Elvis's concert,
even though her father was on
the event planning committee.
That would change.
My father knew
how much I liked Elvis.
He mentioned to Colonel Parker
that it would be
a real nice thing if he could
just bring me by Elvis's
and Colonel Parker's hotel room.
And Colonel Parker said,
"Of course.
Please come."
At the end of our brief stay,
Elvis said, "I'll see you
"We won't be going.
We can't afford it.
I have six kids living in
There's no way that we can go."
Elvis turned to Colonel Parker,
and he said, "Would you get her
a ticket?"
And he went into his office
room, whatever, came out
with a ticket for me
for the concert that night.
With her free ticket in hand,
Sue Holderman,
along with Sally Hall,
Lovely Kwock, and 4,000
other people descended
on Bloch Arena at Pearl Harbor
on the evening of March 25,
The concert was set to begin
The gates at Bloch Arena opened
at 7:15 that evening.
That night,
my father dropped me off,
and one of Elvis's attendants
escorted me in.
Screaming fans.
There were only 4,000 people.
There could've been 400,000 for
the amount of noise coming out.
There was no seat for me because
I was just a last-minute add-on.
I remember the attendant
asking one of the ushers
to get a folding chair
and bring it into the aisle.
And I was front and center,
sticking out of an aisle
of a row,
embarrassed, because here
I was just right out there
in kind of the middle
of this row of people
pretty much in the front.
And, okay, 12 years old.
I thought, "This couldn't get
any better than this."
Also attending the concert
on the night of March 25, 1961,
was Mildred Martin.
Mildred, you remember,
had watched the actual attack
at Pearl Harbor on December 7,
1941, as a 5-year-old.
Her dad had been on
the U.S.S. Arizona
that very Sunday morning,
finishing up some construction
work before returning home.
Now, as a married adult
in her mid 20s,
Mildred was going to see
Elvis raise money to honor
those killed on the Arizona,
an event she witnessed.
And it's a great pleasure
to welcome him here
and to present to you
and to present to you
[ Crowd cheering ]
Everybody screamed.
This young man is doing
a fantastic job of trying
to honor our Arizona people.
I had a friend, Rick Benson,
and his father
was Admiral Benson,
and he asked me to go
to this concert.
And so Admiral Benson
got us seats center.
It was between
the fifth and tenth row.
I think we were right up front.
And it was very exciting.
And guess where I sat.
In the back of the stage.
But at least I got there.
It was the closest I could get
to him, 'cause I wanted to see
I wanted to touch him.
People were screaming,
and there was just this light
and this energy
that you can't believe.
And he had
this wonderful sense of humor,
which you don't normally get,
you know, because he would go
like this, wiggle his arm,
and everybody would scream.
And he'd laugh, so he'd do
a little bit of a song,
then shake his leg a little,
and everyone would scream
and he'd laugh.
It's like he really enjoyed
seeing what he could do
to make people scream.
Boy, it was so loud, so
crowded, so much noise.
You couldn't hear anything.
You couldn't even hear the words
of the song.
I sang along.
Sang along with a lot of the
"Hound Dog" was my favorite,
I think.
There were people way up
in the back, bleachers way up in
the back, and there were chairs
all down the bottom.
He flicked his arm or wiggled,
there was screams all over.
Thank you very much.
And I have to tell you, it's a
pleasure to be back in -- where
are we?
Oh, Honolulu.
[ Crowd cheering ]
I'd like to thank you all for
coming out.
Elvis's 15-song, 45-minute
set list that night included
all of his top hits at the time,
such as "Heartbreak Hotel,"
"All Shook Up,"
"Fool Such As I,"
and "Don't Be Cruel,"
and so many other fan favorites.
Well, the one
that really stood out was
"You Ain't Nothing
But a Hound Dog."
You ain't nothin'
but a hound dog
Cryin' all the time
You ain't nothin'...
Talk about knees melting.
It was almost like their knees
were just melting,
like a silly teenager.
And after that, I said, "Oh,
What he's doing, what he did
here for the music,
for raising funds and all,"
I said, "That's really
Won't you love me tonight
One night with you

One of the journalists
at the time said that the roar
from the teenaged crowd
was so loud
that none of the reporters
could actually hear
could actually hear
what Elvis was singing.
And Elvis had said at the time
that he could
because, you know,
no one could hear him.
The sound system was, you know,
not state-of-the-art,
and the roar and the intensity
of the -- of the crowd
was such that, you know,
no one could hear Elvis singing,
which is quite ironic, really.
Ladies and gentlemen, I'd
like to do the very first record
that we ever made.
This was for the Sun Record
It's called,
"That's All Right, Mama."
[ Crowd cheering ]

Well, that's all right, mama
He had a gold lam coat on.
You know, it was just glistening
and -- and just rocked,
and people that were there
had the time of their life.
And, you know, think about it.
This superstar comes to Hawaii
in that time period?
Elvis's concert
at Bloch Arena
had been a huge success
for all his fans in attendance
and for the U.S.S. Arizona
memorial fundraising effort.
That's what all the newspapers
said the next day.
My biggest-selling record
was a song called
"Don't Be Cruel."
[ Crowd cheering ]

I think that what stands out
is hearing Elvis' voice talking
to the crowd and, you know,
engaging them.
Thanks again,
ladies and gentlemen.
Elvis has left the building.
It was such an incredible
moment in time that, inside
Bloch Arena today,
the King of Rock 'n' Roll's
March 25, 1961 visit
is still memorialized.
Articles, photos,
and recognition line the walls.
Elvis old dressing room
that night, echoes from
another time.
Over $60,000 was raised from
Elvis's concert,
which was added to $250,000
already now in the bank.
The U.S.S. Arizona Memorial
project had regained its
momentum, and better yet,
received some much needed
Disc jockey Tom Moffatt
caught up with Elvis
"Blue Hawaii" following
the benefit at Bloch Arena.
Were you happy with the
turnout and the response from
the show and everything?
Oh, yeah, I sure was.
And I was glad everybody
was yelling and everything.
Covered up my mistakes.
[ Both laugh ]
Because I hadn't -- I hadn't had
any rehearsals, you know,
and I've been out of practice.
Hadn't been on stage since 1957.
Yeah, yeah.
That's a long time.
The band -- The band had
forgotten a song, I'd forgotten
the lyrics to most of the songs.
In fact, a lot of times, I said
the same lyrics over and over
and over, used the same line.
Elvis's association
with the memorial
had a long reach
as more donations arrived
as more donations arrived
from across the country.
Construction on the
U.S.S. Arizona Memorial was now
well underway,
Alfred Preis's architectural
drawings rounding
into something concrete.
The final piece
of the fundraising puzzle
came in late 1961.
That's when Congress,
led by
Daniel Inouye, a World War II
Medal of Honor recipient,
provided an additional
$150,000 in public
funding to finish the project.
Another World War II hero,
President John F. Kennedy,
approved the federal money.
The U.S.S. Arizona Memorial
effort had reached its $500,000
goal and then some, thanks to a
mix of private and, at the end,
public funding.
Arizona crewman
Bill Woodward's optimism
about his family's future
still resonated prior
to December 7, 1941.
November 1941.
My very own precious darling
wife and baby.
Oh, darling, I do so hope that
we go back to the States before
There is a lot of talk that
we will and a lot that we won't.
It shouldn't be so very long
before we know one way
or the other.
Oh, God.
How I hope it's the right way.
Your own, Bill.
The U.S.S. Arizona Memorial
was completed in 1962,
then dedicated on Memorial Day
of that same year.

Elvis had, indeed, helped to get
the fundraising effort
to the finish line,
but it took an entire village --
Admiral Arthur Radford,
Ralph Edwards, George Chaplin,
and Colonel Tom Parker,
among others -- to help turn
the original
U.S.S. Arizona Memorial
blueprints of Alfred Preis
into a tangible memorial.

The combination of
Ralph Edwards'
"This Is Your Life"
and Elvis, "Blue Hawaii," we
have a U.S.S. Arizona Memorial,
and that's a great story.
But, you know,
I think about Samuel Fuqua,
who came on deck
of that battleship
and looked around like -- right
like we are here,
and all around him were dead
and burning people.
and burning people.
And he found out really quickly
none of those guys up forward
And so for Samuel Fuqua
to be involved in raising
and perpetuating this story and
then eventually the fundraising,
it really speaks well
of the memory of Pearl Harbor
and remembering that tragic day
with this beautiful memorial
that stands behind me.

Elvis did the concert.
He never forgot the Arizona.
Every time he came to Hawaii,
he would always stop off
to visit, to pay homage,
just to be there
for the Arizona.
And he took pride in knowing
that the people of Hawaii
appreciated whoever came to the
Arizona, appreciated the
memorial, to remember not him
but those that gave their lives
on that day.
There was a momentum
that hadn't been there before.
And when Admiral Radford built
his small little memorial
in the 1950s,
he always had the idea
of a broader interpretation.
When you visit,
you're just more overwhelmed
by the emotion of the place.
And it still is the
number-one visitation site here
on Oahu.
You know, there aren't
very many human beings
that influence so many people,
and he -- he was -- he had a
beauty about him.
He was a good person.
That's how Elvis is and was.
So helpful, caring, sharing,
He was a wonderful
entertainer for -- during his
time, and, you know, it's too
bad that he left us so early.
I think it left a legacy
for Elvis.
It was something that was larger
than himself.
He came back to see the memorial
that he had helped build.
And you can see it in his eyes,
the wonder of being there, that,
"Yeah, I guess, in some ways,
I helped out here."
He couldn't see anything
tangible at that time
when he gave the concert,
but when he came back,
he could see that he was part
of something much larger
than he thought.
Elvis Presley had
become the effort's Pied Piper,
the front man of the band,
if you will.
The Arizona Memorial,
a part of the King's
lasting legacy.
December 2, 1941.
Somewhere at sea.
My very own precious darling
wife and baby.
wife and baby.
After six more months, my sweet,
you will never have to be alone
for a whole day again.
I will be terribly glad
when we get back in,
because it will be that much
closer to the 13th,
and I want to get my mail
that I should have waiting
for me there from you.
for today and go on watch.
Your own, Bill.