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A Look Back: “Here Comes the Navy”

Did you know? Before WWII, the USS Arizona served as the primary filming location for the 1934 Warner Brothers movie, “Here Comes the Navy.”

An old movie poster with a naval ship and the title " Here Comes the Navy "
Photo Credit: Warner Brothers

"Here Comes the Navy" is a romantic comedy-drama starring James Cagney, Pat O’Brien, and Gloria Stuart. The movie tells the story of a young man named Chesty O'Connor (James Cagney) who joins the Navy to impress a girl named Droopy (Gloria Stuart). Chesty and Droopy have a complicated relationship, and things get even more complicated when Chesty's old friend and rival, "Biff" Martin (Pat O'Brien), also joins the Navy.

A black and white photo of a sailor and a woman smiling
James Cagney and Gloria Stuart (Photo Credit: Warner Brothers)

The filmmakers of "Here Comes the Navy" used the actual ship and its crew for the movie, which added authenticity to the film. It was shot over a period of several weeks, documented here by Kevin Uhrich’s (Our Chief Strategy Officer) Great Uncle, Richard E. Lehew, who was stationed on the USS Arizona from 1931-1934 and present during filming.

Picture of a sailor aboard the deck of a Navy ship.
Richard E Lehew, USS Arizona Deck

A group of sailors aboard a ship
Richard E Lehew and Shipmates

Construction started on the USS Arizona in March 1914 and was first commissioned on October 17, 1916, becoming a part of the Pacific Fleet. In the 1930s, tensions between the United States and Japan began to escalate, and the USS Arizona was one of the ships that the US Navy sent to Hawaii to help deter any potential Japanese aggression. However, on December 7, 1941, the Japanese launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, and the USS Arizona was one of the first ships to be hit. During the attack, a bomb struck the ship's ammunition magazine, causing a massive explosion that killed 1,177 of the ship's crew, including its captain, and sank the ship. The wreck of the USS Arizona still lies at the bottom of Pearl Harbor, serving as a memorial to the men who lost their lives in the attack.

A white building on the water.
USS Arizona Memorial (Photo Credit: Kevin Uhrich)

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