USS Arkansas

The USS Arkansas played a pivitol role in the inspiration of the Arkansas State Flag.  The following is the U.S. Navy Secretary’s Office letter as shown in the panel above.  It highlights the historical relationship between the USS Arkansas and the Arkansas State Flag.


Wabbaseka Memorial Committee

Post Office Box 11

Wabbaseka, AR 72176

Attention: Jason Irby, Chairman

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Congratulations to you and all the citizens of the State of Arkansas as you commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Arkansas State Flag.  The flag was designed by Wabbaseka resident Willie K. Hocker so that the state could present it to the Commander and crew of the battleship USS ARKANSAS (BB 33).

You are entitled to take great pride in your state’s historical ties to the ARKANSAS, a 26,000-ton Wyoming class battleship that was commissioned in 1912 and served our Nation across the span of two world wars.  She saw combat in both the Atlantic and Pacific – in 1944 at Normandy, Cherbourg and Southern France, and at Iwo Jima and Okinawa  in 1945.  Following decommissioning, her final service came on July 25, 1946, as a target ship for nuclear weapons testing at Bikini in the Marshall Islands.  Your state’s ties to the U.S. Navy did not end with the ARKANSAS…

Most importantly, the Navy and your state are bound together by our deep respect for the 2,400 Arkansans who are on active duty in the Navy today.  They are among the tens of thousands of America’s finest men and women deployed around the world as part of the Navy’s global force for good.

Your fellow Arkansans are there now.  They will be there when we are sleeping tonight.  They will be there every Saturday, Sunday and holiday this year.  They are there around the clock, far from our shores, defending America at all times.  Additionally, nearly 280 Navy Reservists live in Arkansas, as do 4,466 Navy retirees.  Perhaps some of them are with you at today’s commemoration.

A full century ago, Wabbaseka resident, Willie K. Hocker summoned her creative skills to design a flag that would honor both the State of Arkansas  and its namesake ship.  She accomplished that and more.  Over the decades, her design has been modified somewhat, but like the patriotic bond between the citizens of Arkansas and America’s Navy, the flag endures.

You are to be commended for your work, and I will look forward to an opportunity to visit the Arkansas Flag Memorial site in Wabbaseka at a future date.


Ray Mabus



Courtesy of the Wabbaseka Memorial Committee and U.S. Navy

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