Azle High School senior helps bring piece of WWII history to campus

Azle High School is now home to a unique piece of World War II history thanks in part to an ambitious and caring senior there.

At a dedication ceremony at the campus titled "A Hero's Dream, a piece of the USS Arizona that was sunk at Pearl Harbor was put on permanent display.

Student Brooke Schocke was inspired to honor WWII veterans after becoming close to one. 

A tragedy as important as the attack on Pearl Harbor can lose its significance if the legacy of those who died protecting us is not preserved for the younger generation. 

"I want to make sure their memories are kept alive for generations to come," Schocke said.

Keeping the memory alive is Schocke's new mission in life. The high school senior visited Pearl Harbor when she was 11. She fell in love with the history and wanted to meet one of the few living survivors from the USS Arizona.

Schocke met Nikki Stratton's grandfather, Donald Stratton, one of the last few survivors from that fateful day. Their relationship crew closer before his death in 2020.

"She had a great relationship with my grandfather, and she is really taking a hold of this story and its apart of her," Stratton said.

Wednesday at Azle High School, they unveiled a permanent memorial: an actual piece from the USS Arizona. 

"It’s actually somewhat near where my grandfather’s battle station was," Stratton said.

"My high school has a piece of the USS Arizona, and we are the first high school in Texas to have a piece of the USS Arizona on permanent display," Schocke said.

Other WWII veterans and their families attended the dedication ceremony.

Teri Mann Whyatt's uncle died during the attack. Her uncle's best friend was saved by Donald Stratton and others, so she wanted to come and honor their legacy. 

"We promised these men that we will never forget Pearl Harbor and so we are here so we never forget," she said. "The fact that Azle’s community takes this on and has this relic, it means a great deal."

The families hope this spurs more displays to keep the legacy alive. 

"I really hope this is the spearhead of more schools getting involved with the relics program, it shares the story, it shares the legacy, it keeps the history alive," Stratton said.