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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Athletics pays tribute to USS Arizona with commemorative jerseys

In the months leading up to the 75th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attacks, the Arizona Wildcats football and men’s basketball team provided its own twist to honor the ones who lost their lives on Dec. 7, 1941—more specifically the USS Arizona.

Arizona football’s third game of the season against Hawaii was the introduction of the one-time only Pearl Harbor gray jerseys and the basketball team wore its gray camouflage against Michigan St. in its season opener in the Armed Forces Classic in Honolulu.

It’s not too often the Wildcats get to showcase their uniform swagger, but when they did this season, there was historical meaning behind it and it just so happened both football and basketball won in their USS Arizona-style uniforms. Sure the uniforms have some flavor and sauce to it, but the meaning behind each patch and decal on the uniforms are more than the game of football and basketball. Here’s a walk through each attribute of the Pearl Harbor look the Wildcats modeled in 2016:

The Helmet

Arizona’s uniform was modeled after the USS Arizona in terms of layering of the ship. The helmet represents the upper mast structure, which is the highest part of it. The only throwback portion of the helmet is the red block ‘A’ that was pictured in the USS Arizona team photo. Right above the facemask on the forehead of the helmet is the date of the Pearl Harbor attack and the back has the USS Arizona bell decal from the Student Union Memorial Center. The back of the helmet at the neck area usually has the team’s name or Riddell branded on the helmet, but instead had the ship’s rally cry, “At ‘Em Arizona”.

The Jersey

Now that we’re down the torso of the uniform, it made sense for the jersey to be gray, which was inspired by the hull and main body structure of the battleship. The hull is the structure and framework of the ship and where the football team placed most of the patches on the jersey.

The first part of the jersey is the enormous USS Arizona across the chest with a medallion worn by Esther Ross at the Arizona’s christening and official introduction in 1915. The back of the jersey has BB-39, the hull identification number, instead of last names. Joe Paterno always said that players should play for the name on the front rather the one on the back, but in this case, the Wildcats are playing for both.

Each shoulder had unique patches that take after the Pearl Harbor attacks. On the right shoulder was the hornet logo of the 47th Fighter Squadron and the Air Force Reserve Command based on Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson. The 47th Fighter Squadron shot down eight enemy aircraft during the Pearl Harbor Attacks. The left shoulder had a 48-star flag since Arizona was the 48th state of the U.S.

The Pants

There isn’t a special patch on the pants, but the red takes after the ship’s bottomhalf paint job that was mostly hidden below the waterline. So when running back J.J. Taylor ran for 168 yards, maybe it was the keel of the uniform that helped him travel through Hawaii’s defense.

Follow Justin Spears on Twitter.

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