Laurel's very own Veterans Memorial Museum holds significant war memorabilia from decades past. Most notably is an actual piece of USS Arizona from Pearl Harbor. The USS Arizona is part of one of the most pivotal points in US history and world history. There are only three province museums in the world that have a piece of Arizona, and Laurel has one.
Ben was bestowed the honor of building a new display for the piece of USS Arizona, and he hopes to preserve history and offer a close-up experience for anyone visiting the museum. This build was a dream come true for this History student-turned woodworker. He just needed the right person to help him build it.
Scott Eastwood made his first trip to Mississippi (ever!) to help Ben in the Scotsman Co. Woodshop for the day. He's even been to Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, where he used to live. While Scott is most known for his movie roles and relation to his father, Clint Eastwood, most people don't know that he is a huge advocate for veterans, servicemen, and servicewomen. He's even been to Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, where he used to live.
Scott says, "I had an overwhelming sort of emotion. You can't really describe it; it's really powerful. It's great that we're doing something to honor them, and they deserve that honor and respect."
He continues, "My father was in the Army, and he was scheduled to deploy to the Korean War, and he was in a plane crash. The only reason he wasn't deployed to the war was because of that plane crash. My father is a big supporter, and it's probably where it started for me."
Ben used the opportunity to share his fandom and admiration of Scott's father, Clint, and how he even named his truck after him. Ben remarks, "I'm a history student turned woodworker who grew up on Eastwood movies. Now I get to build a woodworking project and preserve a piece of history with an Eastwood actor. Never in my wildest dreams."
Ben and Scott get to work. Ben shares the vision for the project and how the mixture of three different elements will tell the story of World War II.
Ben says, "The sides and the face of the cabinet will be Heart Pine, reclaimed from a beam here in Laurel. We will make the drawer front out of Koa wood, which grows in Hawaii. The crowning piece will be the frame that holds the piece of the Arizona; I found to salvaged Teak from the USS Missouri. I'm excited about the story that the wood is going to tell."
He explains in further detail that the salvaged Teak wood is actually from the deck of the USS Missouri from a Woodshop named Martin MacArthur.
He says, "All of the teak deckings that was salvaged from the ship was sent to them, and they build pieces out of it. The USS Missouri was actually where the Japanese signed the articles of surrender."
Scott noted that the coolest part of this build was how the piece of USS Arizona and every piece of wood involved would signify the beginning and the end of the war.
During the episode, Ben switches gears and asks Scott about his experience living in Hawaii. Scott shares, "I learned a lot about the ocean and water sports: surfing, fishing, diving. I grew up in what they call Ponte Yolo country, which is "Cowboy Country." I guess I'm kind of like a surfer cowboy. Surfing is probably the closest we get to flying. It's a whole lifestyle. Once it kind of bites you, you spend the rest of your life doing it."
Scott moved back to Monterey, California, to live with his dad when he was 16. He says, "I had gotten into a little bit of trouble at school, and it was time to go live with my dad. It's his rules, his way or the highway."
Though Scott is most well-known for acting, he's not afraid to get his hands dirty and work hard. In his 20s, he busted tables, parked cars for valet, and worked in construction.
Ben bragged on Scott when he said, "Scott is handsome, and he's a movie star. But really, he's just a regular guy. He comes from Hollywood royalty, but nothing was ever given to him. He had to audition, and he had to scrape by at times."
When the woodworking duo finally completed the six-foot-tall display case, they loaded it up onto a historical war jeep to deliver it. Ben says, "The fact that we got to build this piece of furniture together, and he and I are getting to deliver it to the museum and present a World War II hero is special."
Jimmy Bass was a sailor during World War II, and he knew what it was like to witness the Pearl Harbor tragedy. His heroism and efforts in the war prompted the United States Navy to gift him with the piece of the USS Arizona. He has the article on loan with the museum. The presentation of the display case was so special to him, and it made a profound impact on Ben and Scott during his time in Laurel.
Ben says, "This is a special moment for both of us. We both have a profound respect for the men and women who serve our country and be able to do something that honors fallen soldiers. I enjoy so many freedoms because of those men and women, and to be able to build a beautiful piece of furniture and preserve history is why I love doing this."
You can see Ben and Scott Eastwood's custom display case for the piece of the USS Arizona at the Veterans Memorial Museum. Be sure to stop by the Scotsman General Store and Woodshop to see what Ben builds next and watch new episodes of Ben's Workshop on Discovery+ now!