Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Crew's Room

The newly renovated Crew’s Room was opened late last year. The Crew’s Room serves as a dedication to all former crewmembers of the USS Missouri and is open to all guests of the Battleship Missouri Memorial. It is a reflection of the crewmembers’ experiences and showcases the keepsakes they saved in remembrance of their time aboard.

With an emphasis on preservation, the exhibit’s focus is as seen from the perspectives and personal experiences of those who constructed and served aboard the battleship from World War II through Operation Desert Storm.
The Crew's Room utilizes historic images, video and personal “keepsakes” to illustrate and enliven the story of the world’s last active-service battleship as seen through the eyes and remembered by the three generations of Americans who worked and lived aboard.

It is designed to offer visitors a clearer understanding and personal appreciation for the experience of life at sea, far from home, in times of war and peace. By the use of and focus on a careful selection of personal keepsakes donated by former crewmembers, visitors gain their own personal insight into the nature and significance of personal experience and remembrance, and a more intimate and meaningful appreciation of history.

Here are a few examples of artifacts found in the our Crew’s Room.



Program booklet for the Commissioning ceremony of USS Missouri in New York kept by S1c Stephen Pahulick, Commissioning Plankowner who served in 4th Division, Gunnery Department.



“Buster” Campbell, ship’s baker, wrote to his wife about the surrender ceremony that he watched, with camera in hand, from his vantage point in the starboard rangefinder window of turret 2 overlooking the surrender table. 



    The “souvenir of the signing of the surrender…” was provided to Pearl Harbor shipyard workers during Missouri’s stop in Hawaii enroute home from Tokyo Bay. The small piece of teak is from the deck where the surrender was signed.


Ensign John C. Barron of 2nd Division, kept this and other radio communications as vivid reminders of his war-time service abroad Missouri. Note: this original radiogram includes the abbreviated term for “Japanese” that was used in communications during the war-time propaganda, and was increasingly used in language as a racial slur. It is included here as historical reference only.


WT1c Ernest “Ernie” Thompson of B Division, found time in the midst of war to file down a stainless steel nut into this ring, a keepsake he kept as a reminder of his service aboard Missouri during World War II.


MM3 Patrick Allen, a member of M Division, spent most of his waking hours in #2 Engine Room. This letter home gives a taste of his life at sea aboard Missouri in the midst of Operation Desert Storm.

Friday, February 17, 2017

A Class of Their Own: The Four Iowa-class Battleships

The Iowa-class battleships were a class of 6 fast battleships ordered by the United States Navy in 1939 and 1940 to aid the Fast Carrier Task Forces that would operate during World War II. Four were completed- the USS Iowa, USS New Jersey, USS Missouri, and the USS Wisconsin. Two were laid down, but not completed – the USS Illinois and the USS Kentucky. Between the mid- 1940’s and the early 1990’s, the Iowa class battleships fought in a total of four major United States wars.  


(Ship closest to the camera is Iowa (BB-61). The others are (from near to far): Wisconsin (BB-64); Missouri (BB-63) and New Jersey (BB-62).

The Iowa-class battleships are the largest and last U.S. battleships to have ever been produced. Manufactured from the same design, all four ships carry the same characteristics with very minor differences on the armor. They all have three 16 inch triple gun turrets with 50 caliber guns that are the biggest the U.S. has ever built and can go as far as 23 miles using pin point accuracy with projectiles weighing 2,700 pounds at high capacity- 2 rounds per minute per gun. In addition they hold another twelve, 5 inch caliber guns in six dual mounts that can range up to 9 miles with projectiles weighing 55 pounds; shooting 15 rounds per minute per gun.

As the Missouri’s thick side-armor indicates, the Iowa-class battleships were designed in anticipation of sea-to-sea/ship-to-ship combat, but in practice during WWII and the Korean War, their main offense function and purpose became ship-to-shore, more commonly called “shore bombardment.” Additionally, their main defensive response was ship-to-air against attacking aircraft specifically during WWII. Each of the ship’s tanks could carry 2.5 million gallons of fuel oil, 35,000 gallons of aviation fuel and 200,000 gallons of potable water capacity all to perform its task in fighting wars off shore. With two five-bladed propellers 17 feet inboard and two four bladed 18’3” feet propellers outboard, the ships were built to combat any obstacles sea to land floating hours on end. To put in perspective the strength of these powerful ships, if your average car has a 300 horse power, the battleship had a total of 212,000 shaft horsepower.


(Missouri (BB-63) left, Iowa (BB-61) right; USS Missouri transferring personnel to the USS Iowa on 20 Aug. 1945, off the coast of Japan, as Big Mo was preparing for the official surrender of the Japanese Empire on 2 Sept. 1945)

The Iowa class battleships have become a cultural symbol in the United States in many different ways. Battleships were the symbol of naval dominance and national “might.” For decades these battleships were a major factor in both diplomacy and military strategy.  Today, they remain a very important part of our history, the four battleships are now each a floating, living museum- inspiring and educating countless generations to come.

 To learn more about the Iowa Class Battleships please visit each of the living museum’s website:

Battleship Missouri Memorial: https://ussmissouri.org/

Pacific Battleship Center: http://www.pacificbattleship.com/

Battleship New Jersey Musuem & Memorial: http://www.battleshipnewjersey.org/


Friday, January 13, 2017

A Timeless Inspiration for the Generations

Coming off the heels of the 75th Anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, 2017 is a year we address the future of all that has lived on with us. In 2016 we welcomed nearly 700,000 visitors to the ship and we expect 2017 to be just as exciting.  She will forever more be sharing her story and place in history with an exciting 21st century twist. Thrilling new preservation efforts will be in full swing and never before seen displays will be featured.


The Mighty Mo is a ship for all ages, but like all things in time, we slowly lose the connection to the things of the past. In order to avoid this, the Battleship Missouri Memorial has come up with fun relatable interactive displays for generations young and old.  It is our goal to make sure that the New Year brings new insight onto those stories of the past and specifically those crews who served our country with valor and sacrifice. It is important to remind our youth of the lessons of the past for the benefit of our future.

Kicking off the New Year is Living History Day  on January 28 which commemorates two special occasions for the Mighty Mo – the battleship’s first launch in 1944 and its 18th year as a living educational maritime monument in Hawaii.


Living History Day will have something for the entire family, including live big band style music, exhibits of historic vehicles and wartime weaponry, 1940’s memorabilia, historic reenactments, photo displays from other historic sites, and oral histories from World War II witnesses and survivors.  Attendees are welcome to tour the retired battleship as well as partake in other activities provided by our event partners.  Living History Day is free for Kama`aina and Military.

For a full listing of Living History Day activities and event schedule
 take a look on our Facebook Page.




Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Commemorating Pearl Harbor's 75th Anniversary

This past week, we commemorated National Pearl Harbor Remembrance day and the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor- an assault that left 2,403 Americans dead and propelled the United States into World War II.

It was a week of honoring the past, and inspiring the future. Thousands of families from all around the world joined us in Pearl Harbor honoring those that fought that day.  A variety of emotions filled the week from sunrise to sunset.  Rivers of kids flowed through the Missouri’s gate to perform “A Gift of Music” in remembrance and honor of all of those who lost their lives. To hear and feel the sound of their drums pounding and instruments playing and their voices rose proudly, in peace, 75 years after war began- was truly a spectacle. Japan's December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor and six other military bases on the Hawaiian island of Oahu propelled America's entry into World War II, a global conflict. Today, Pearl Harbor endures as a symbol of American resilience and resolve and the annual commemoration of the attack on Pearl Harbor fosters reflection, remembrance, and understanding


The 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor provided an opportunity to honor the sacrifices and dedication of our "Greatest Generation" both civilian and military that endured incredible sacrifices on December 7, 1941, a "date which will live in infamy." The events of that date triggered our resolve as a nation, our can-do attitude and resourcefulness and an unmatched commitment to the defense of freedom.


However, we tend to not think of the USS Missouri in association with the December 7th attack. Yet for members of Missouri’s last crew, there is a special remembrance of the 50th anniversary commemoration here in Pearl Harbor, where the USS Missouri was a major participant.
Operation Remembrance was the last time that the Mighty Mo was fully manned and at her finest, and prepared to welcome a United States President aboard. Her decks representing an eternal symbol of peace in the same spot where the war that had begun for the U.S.



Understanding past events and their consequences can inspire reverence for an emotional commitment to peaceful solutions to conflict. How do we help future generations chart their way toward peace and prosperity? We can learn from the past.  A key focus of the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor will be a brighter future and a continued relationship with Japan, a celebration of 71 years of peace between two countries, now allies.

To see the full mass band performance at the Mighty Mo, visit our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Battleshipmissouri/?fref=ts 


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Behind Every Table Is A Story


As hundreds of spectators and photographers crowded the decks of the USS Missouri, representatives of the warring nations stepped forward to sign the Instrument of Surrender. Within 23 minutes, World War II had formally ended. Similar to any event, there were many preparations made prior to the morning of September 2, 1945. Crew members were tasked with specific duties and faced minor challenges that intruded on their plans.
British Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser sent over a mahogany deal table and two nicely upholstered chairs from the HMS King George V. The USS Missouri’s Commanding Officer, Captain Stuart “Sunshine” Murray, described the table as “a beautiful highly polished table about 40 inches square.” The handcrafted table was to be used to display the formal Instrument of Surrender.

As the morning’s preparations continued, General MacArthur and his staff arrived to the Missouri. With them was an Army colonel from Washington who had brought the Surrender Documents. 
“It was the first time we had seen them,” said Captain Murray. “One look at these documents and you might say all hell broke loose! These documents were about 40 inches by 20 inches each and two of them had to be in line. Our beautiful mahogany table was 40 by 40! Couldn’t do it.”
He called over the four nearest Sailors and they headed for the wardroom. Intending to grab a wardroom table they remembered those were bolted to the floor. They dashed down to the crew’s mess where the mess cooks had just finished clearing the tables from breakfast. In a rush, they grabbed the first mess table they saw despite grumbles from the cooks.
On their way back to the main deck, Captain Murray yanked a coffee-stained green table cover off a wardroom table. The Sailors set- up the mess table on the veranda deck and laid the green cloth over it. “It really looked very nice,” said Captain Murray.
Fleet Admiral Nimitz had arrived onboard by this time; however, he was unaware of the table change. Later, when Captain Murray told him, he just laughed.
The ceremony proceeded and the historic moment passed.

After the high ranking officers departed the ship, Captain Murray went back into his cabin with his department heads. All they wanted at that moment, he recalled, “was a good stiff drink,” but they settled for coffee.
As they relaxed, it suddenly dawned on someone to secure the table, the cloth and chairs that were used during the ceremony. “That hit us all at the same time and we jumped up and dashed out on the deck, and no table!” exclaimed Captain Murray.
Crumpled up in a pile was the green table cloth and nearby were the British chairs. They carefully secured those in the Captain’s Cabin before heading down to the mess deck to look for the table. At that moment, the mess cooks were happily setting up for lunch. They anxiously asked them for the table they had borrowed, the cooks looked at each other and pointed, and so the story goes. 
Today that table is proudly displayed at the U.S. Naval Academy Museum. However, there may be some room for doubt whether it is, in fact, the specific mess table used for the ceremony aboard the USS Missouri that ended World War II. As for the location of that beautiful mahogany deal table, well that still remains a mystery. 

Monday, August 29, 2016

Back to School Doesn’t Have to Mean Back to the Classroom

It’s time to think outside the box classroom. Imagine exploring a campus that measures over three football fields long and took 175 tons of blueprint paper to design. The Battleship Missouri Memorial’s Education team offers a new and exciting way of learning through a variety of educational programs for students, teachers and parents to explore the world’s last battleship.

Our most popular ‘course’ is the Mighty Mo Robotics program which focuses on S.T.E.M curriculum. Educators can provide their students the opportunity to participate in robotics learning with a Navy twist. Students navigate through exciting missions using the LEGO Mindstorms EV3 Robotics set. They are given tasks that require the application of math and science to problem solve and complete their journey. From fending off pirates to saving the sea life, the missions of these courageous students keep them on their toes from beginning to end. Students and teachers will leave our Mighty Mo campus feeling inspired. 


This year we entered two teams in the Underwater Robotics Challenge called SeaPerch for the first time.  Both teams did very well, but one took first place overall (beating out both middle and high schools) at the regional challenge.  This qualified us for the National Challenge at LSU in Baton Rouge LA.  Here they placed 18th overall.  Your robotics program has opened doors for us!  Thanks!!!

-Carrie Laforteza (Ewa Elementary School)

Over 300 students participated in the Mighty Mo Robotics program this year. The Battleship Missouri welcomed the following schools and organizations:

Aiea Elementary, Oahu
Honaunau Elementary, Hawaii
Ewa Beach Elementary, Oahu
Hau’ula Elementary, Oahu
Hawaii Tech Academy, Oahu
Girl Scout Troop 360, Oahu
Hickam and Catlin School Age Programs, Oahu

To learn more about our Education program and team, we will be holding a free teacher workshop designed for both public and private school educators. The workshop will focus on how the Battleship Missouri Memorial can educate and engage the younger generation about warfare and most importantly, World War II as this year marks the 75th Anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor and honors 71 years of peace since the ending of the war. 


Guest speakers include Mr. Daniel Martinez, Chief Historian at the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, Dr. Mitch Yamasaki, Professor of Historical and Political Studies at Chaminade University and Dr. Frank Bailey, Assistant Professor of Historical and Political Studies at Chaminade University.

The workshop will be held on Saturday, October 22 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in the Education Department Classroom at the Battleship Missouri Memorial and is limited to 30 guests. To register, please email David Suhs at DavidS@ussmissouri.org or call at 455-1600 x250. The deadline to RSVP is Friday, September 30. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Keepsakes

Seaman 1st Class Claude Henderson was assigned to the Admin. Department aboard Missouri during World War II and worked in the ship’s Post Office.

He was present aboard to witness the formal surrender of Japan and war’s end. 

When he returned home, he brought with him a collection of keepsakes of his experiences, reminders of places, circumstances and events and people he would always remember.

Those items included ship’s newspapers, personal correspondence, photographs, a brief written chronology of events and his “surrender card”,  a special keepsake given to all who witnessed the ending of World War II aboard the USS Missouri on September 2, 1945 in Tokyo Bay.

And, there was also a small cotton draw-string bag filled with stones.

All of these items were lifelong reminders that stirred memories of a period in his life that was like no other, reflections of personal experience of a time that altered his life and changed the world forever, events and circumstances and memories that would never, ever be forgotten.

As we meet with and talk with former Missouri crewmembers, and begin to understand and appreciate more clearly the impact of the experiences that these USS Missouri veterans lived through, we also begin to recognize the value and significance, as personal reminders of time and place, that these keepsakes represent to them.

Sometimes the items kept have obvious significance that is easy to understand and convey. Items that give insight into personal experiences and by extension help us gain a better, clearer understanding and appreciation of their life at sea, of their experiences during war.

At other times, the keepsakes are much harder to understand. They sometimes require our effort to fully grasp and appreciate their significance to the keeper, and to recognize their value to us as caretakers of this legacy.

For our current Crew’s Room exhibit, nearing completion, we are choosing carefully from among the many keepsakes that veterans of service aboard Missouri - from WWII to Desert Storm – have contributed.

The significance of almost all of the items that we are choosing to display can be readily appreciated without detailed explanation - almost all.

Among the items gathered and carefully kept by Claude Henderson for his entire life is the one item that initially baffled us - the small cotton draw-string bag filled with stones.

What it contains are a collection of half-spheres that he called “cat’s eyes” -  that, we learned, he gathered from the shores of Tokyo Bay as World War II ended.

Imagine how he must have felt standing there at water’s edge, looking out over the deep waters of Tokyo Bay at war’s end, remembering another harbor on December 7, 1941, and remembering  the four long tragic years of war that followed. Imagine how he must have felt at that moment.  And imagine also what that small bag of stones meant to him for all of the years of his life.