Submarine Memorial Dedication At Pea Ridge

PEA RIDGE (KFSM) -- "It makes you real happy to be an American when you see stuff like this," said Navy veteran and Northwest Arkansas Veterans Coalition President Peter Rathmell.

Rathmell is talking about the unveiling of the Mark 37 torpedo monument that was dedicated Saturday (May 13) at Pea Ridge Intermediate School; it was erected by VFW Post 8109.

Dozens of people were on hand for the ceremony.

The monument is to remember and honor all submarine veterans who lost their lives while serving in World War II.

"It shows the sacrifice that people make to defend their country to defend their families and their way of life," said Rathmell.

The Mark 37 torpedo, green in color with an orange propeller at one end, sets on top of a headstone.

The main development of the torpedo was done in 1946 by Westinghouse for use by the U.S. Navy, according to historic military documents.

There are about three versions of the torpedo that range from 135-to-165-inches in length and weighs between 1,400 to nearly 1,700 pounds.

This type of torpedo was used in the early 1950's and was phased out of service in the 1970's.

Placing the Mark 37 torpedo at the school was for a reason.

"They [Pea Ridge school administrators] said this would really fit in well with what was already started here with the Wall of the Veterans Memorial," said Rathmell.

The project didn't happen overnight.

Three years ago two members of the Northwest Arkansas Veterans Coalition, Mike Rainwater and Bob Andregg, spearheaded the project.  One of the many duties Rainwater and Andregg did to ensure the monument would become reality included hundreds of hours spent shining the torpedo.

Rathmell said this is just the beginning of USS Snook Base and said he has a few more plans before it is complete.

"We're gonna' put another grind of monument up and we're gonna' list all of the 52 boats that were lost in World War II," he said.

The Northwest Arkansas Veterans Coalition is a consortium of various area veterans organizations.

There are more than 600 members according to their Facebook page.