The prow of the battleship USS Indiana sits in the parking lot of a seafood restaurant in Berkeley, Calif. Indiana University announced it has secured the prow of the World War II battleship. It will join its mainmast and two of its gun mounts at IU's Memorial Stadium. (Indiana University via AP)
BLOOMINGTON, IND. — A prominent portion of the World War II battleship USS Indiana will become part of a permanent display at Indiana University’s Memorial Stadium.
School officials are acquiring the ship’s prow section from the owners of a California restaurant where it’s been on display for several years. The front section of the ship with its name will join two guns and the main mast from the USS Indiana that are now outside IU’s football stadium, The Herald-Times reported.
“We’ve been keenly interested in putting more emphasis on the fact that Memorial Stadium is a tribute to our veterans,” IU athletic director Fred Glass said. “This was a completely unexpected and wholly appropriate way for us to do that.”
The USS Indiana was completed in 1942 and participated in several Pacific battles during World War II. It was decommissioned in 1947 and then sold for scrap in 1963.
The section of ship is being donated by the family of Frank Spenger, who collected Navy memorabilia and displayed the prow for decades in the parking lot of the family’s seafood restaurant in Berkeley, Calif., according to university officials.
The prow came to the attention of IU officials last year when graduate Scott Clarke of Bloomington suggested in a letter to The Herald-Times that the university acquire the prow and display it at Memorial Stadium.
“Indiana University is an appropriate home for this treasured vestige of naval history and tradition from the last warship named in honor of our great state,” IU President Michael McRobbie said in a statement.
Glass said the prow should be moved across country next month on a semitrailer, after which it will be sandblasted, primed and repainted.
The new stadium display is expected to be dedicated at the Sept. 7 Hoosiers football game against Navy. Glass said he hoped IU can incorporate the Midshipmen in the ceremony.
“I hope we can coordinate something with them, because while we may compete on the football field, this goes beyond that,” he said.
Other USS Indiana artifacts displayed throughout the state include an anchor at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum at Fort Wayne and a bell at the Heslar Naval Armory in Indianapolis, according to university officials.