My fondest memories of Rob Christopher and are from the times we spent together on the survey boat on the mighty Mississippi River.

 Rob was a mentor to many; a high school history teacher and the driving force behind locating the presumed wreck of the Civil War gunboat the USS Arizona

 I have been passionate about the American Civil War ever since I was little. My parents dragged my brother and me as kids through battleground after battleground and those trips, the stories and the conflicts, have always stayed with me. It is such an interesting time in our nation’s history and so important for our understanding of how our country today was shaped.

I was lucky enough as a teenager to be given the opportunity to join Rob and his team to find and hopefully identify the first USS Arizona.  Together, we discovered what we believe is the wreck of this ship.

 The history of the Arizona is a compelling one that goes far beyond its shared namesake with the successor that still lies on the floor of Pearl Harbor. In fact, the Arizona and the history of those who served on its decks provides a unique and rare perspective into this fascinating period in our history. This very ship sailed under the flag of both the Confederate and Union Navy, paid witness to numerous naval conflicts, and even at one point served as the Flagship for Admiral Farragut.

After we discovered the presumed location of the Arizona, Rob needed more time and money to finance additional trips down to the site with the hopes of officially identifying the wreck. And that is where we left it. In all that excitement, we returned from discovering the original Arizona, and I, a few months later, moved all the way across the country for college.

Rob and I stayed in touch until his death a few years ago. Tragically, he was struck by lightning and died in the summer of 2011, before he was ever able to see his dream through. But a group of us, including members of Rob’s family and a number of his friends, finally came together and discussed finding a way to reignite the excitement Rob had drummed up about the Arizona. We created the USS Arizona Civil War Project Fund with a focus on bringing back to life Rob’s vision.

I am inviting all of you to join our exciting team and be part of history. Help us identity the final resting place of the USS Arizona gunboat by donating today. 

-Colin Kindgren, President & CEO of the USS Arizona Civil War Project Fund.