Pearl Harbor relic found hidden at local home

Pearl Harbor relic found hidden at local home »Play Video
Rick Partridge displays a mast pulley from the battleship USS Arizona that his father recovered at Pearl Harbor.
SEATTLE - On Monday it will be 68 years since the bombing of Pearl Harbor. And for most of that time, a special piece of history has been hidden away in a local home.

The historic artifact would not have survived were it not for a local military man who rarely spoke of the war.

The attack by 100 Japanese planes and several midget submarines sent more than a dozen U.S. Navy ships to the bottom of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

In an hour and 5 minutes, the battleship USS Arizona was completely destroyed. More than 1,000 sailors died when the Arizona burned.

In the middle of the battle was Willis Partridge, a signalman on the Coast Guard cutter Taney.

For years, his son Rick Partridge didn't know much about his father's role on the "day of infamy." He rarely talked about it.

"We found most of what he did in the service after he passed away - which was, ironically, Dec. 7 last year," Rick says.

In his father's home they found a pulley from the mast of the USS Arizona, which still lies under the waves at the bottom of Pearl Harbor.

"Here's the pulley that the line would have gone through to raise the pennant," Rick says.

Right after the attack, Willis Partridge salvaged the part to raise the flag on the Taney. Years later, during an overhaul, Partridge reclaimed the part to preserve it.

"I felt that it was too important for us to keep in the family - it just really is," says his son.

This weekend, Rick is taking the pulley back to a maritime museum in Baltimore.

"It does bring chills every time I touch it or look at it," says Rick. "It kind of sends shivers down my back to think about what was going on at this moment in time in history."

Thanks to a humble Coast Guardsman, a piece of U.S. history will have a new future.

The museum that will display the pulley from the Arizona is also the final home of the Coast Guard Cutter Taney.