Friday, January 12, 2018

The View from Above

The view from the Navigation Bridge (04 Level) and the Open Bridge (05 Level) is eye-opening and magnificent. From here the USS Arizona Memorial can be seen unlike any other viewpoint and the majesty of the 16in guns of turrets 1 and 2 looking over the memorial, protecting those entombed, is unmatched.

View of the harbor from the 05 Level.
(Photo Source: Megan Plaumann)

The Battleship Missouri’s Navigation Bridge has seen 20 Commanding Officers (CO) look out over the bow to the vast oceans of the world remaining steadfast and true to her motto VIS AD LIBERTATEM, meaning Strength for Freedom. From the 04 level these COs have steered the Missouri to the waters of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, to the coast of the Korean peninsula, around the world tours, and to the Persian Gulf for Operation Desert Storm. The restoration of the Navigation Bridge and Open Bridge will give our visitors a unique perspective on what happens on the bridge of a U.S. Navy warship.

CAPT Callaghan on the bridge of the Missouri during the summer 1944 shakedown period.
(Photo Source: USN Photo, USNHC # 80-ZG-K-4600)

CAPT Kaiss takes a break on the starboard bridge wing during initial weapons trials in 1985.
(Photo Source: USS Missouri Cruise Book 1985-1986)

The restoration of the Navigation Bridge, which includes the Chart House, Captain’s At-Sea Cabin, Pilot House and Conning Tower, and the Open Bridge on the 05 Level, was an ongoing project over the course of 2017 that involved many departments here at the Battleship Missouri. The Curatorial Department was in charge of restoring and displaying the bridge as historically accurate as possible based on primary sources from the 1980s and 1990s. It was decided that the bridge would look and sound as it did when the Missouri entered Pearl Harbor for the 50th Anniversary of the attack on the Hawaiian Islands.

Using Cruise Books from our collection, and the knowledge and expertise of prior crewmembers such as CAPT A.L. Kaiss (first and last CO of the second commissioning era) and CAPT Ken Jordan (XO during the second commissioning era), we were able to recreate the 1991 look and feel of the Navigation Bridge. We also sought first-hand knowledge from the Harbor Pilots at Pearl Harbor on the procedures ships follow when entering port.

Left to right, LT Watt, LTJG Reese, LTJG Russell, and LT Jaech, 1987.
(Photo Source: USS Missouri Cruise Book 1987-1988)

The Navigation Bridge and the Open Bridge will have new exhibit text panels featuring four languages, English, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean, making the Battleship Missouri Memorial one of the first museums in the state of Hawaii to incorporate four languages on exhibit text panels. This space will also incorporate an immersive audio experience, recorded with the help of active duty Sailors, which will allow visitors a glimpse into what it might have sounded like on the Navigation Bridge when the ship entered port.

 We hope that our visitors will enjoy the restored Navigation Bridge and Open Bridge, and that they will leave having learned something new about life aboard a battleship.

Written by guest author Megan Plaumann, Project Manager for the historical restoration of the Navigation Bridge, Curatorial Department

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

2017 A Year in Review

What a year it’s been! Join us as we look back on some of the mighty milestones that happened at the Battleship Missouri Memorial in 2017!

Living History Day: Celebrating the anniversary week of the USS Missouri’s launching in 1944, Living History Day provides an opportunity to invite the local community for a sun-filled day of fun and history. Welcoming over 200 participants in 2017, this event includes band performances, vendor learning booths and even a General MacArthur presentation in the ship’s Captain’s Cabin. Free admission was offered to Hawaii residents and members of the Armed Forces.

Superstructure Preservation - January also kicked off our Superstructure preservation project, the biggest preservation effort since the Missouri’s dry docking in 2010. This one year project helped to restore and preserve the ship’s superstructure from damaged and rusted metal. With a price tag of 3.5 million dollars, over 25,000 man hours logged, 17,000 pounds of steel replaced and 700 gallons of paint used, we have our visitors to thank.  Through the purchase of tickets to tour the Mighty Mo, we were able to fund this project, a necessary preservation effort that helps preserve the historic Mighty Mo for generations to come.

Picnic on the Pier - In June we kicked off our Summer Picnic Series with a twisted finale in August. The June event welcomed The Fresh Preps who provided a super fun evening just before the Father’s Day weekend with some fun rock and roll tunes. In July, we hosted our annual 4th of July Picnic with over 1,500 guests in attendance. Patriotic fireworks lit up the skies over Pearl Harbor as we celebrated America’s Independence Day! New to the Mighty Mo, was a Silent Disco hosted for our August event on the Fantail of the Battleship – it was such a success that we plan to hold one again in 2018.


Overseas - During the fall, we participated in an overseas effort visiting many cities in Japan and including the Mamoru Shigemitsu Museum, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and Yamato Museum. The trip culminated in the city of Nagaoka where the Battleship Missouri Memorial returned a Yamamoto flag that once flew over the Battleship Nagato. This flag symbolizes a hope for our future and reminds us not to forget the past.
From the Mamoru Shigemitsu Museum, historic artifacts were exchanged that had ties to the landmark ceremony and lasting friendship that evolved following the wars conclusion.  

USS Indianapolis Screening - In August, a team of civilian researchers led by Microsoft co-found, Paul Allen, discovered the USS Indianapolis wreckage on the floor of the Pacific Ocean, 18,000 feet below the water’s surface. The discovery brings closure to one of the most tragic maritime disasters in U.S. naval history.  The Battleship Missouri Memorial was honored to host a special screening of USS Indianapolis: The Legacy, a film directed and produced by Sara Vladic and Melanie Johnson. The screening welcomed nearly 300 guests who came to learn the historic tragedy USS Indianapolis and her crew. A story that needs to be told and shared to honor those that endured the horrific experience firsthand. Special guests included the producers and John Woolston, a survivor of the USS Indianapolis who welcomed a Q & A Panel with the audience after the film was over.

End of WWII Commemoration - Come September, we celebrated the 72nd anniversary of the End of World War II on September 2, 2017.  A beautiful morning ceremony on the ship’s Fantail. The ceremony started exactly at 9:02am aboard the historic Mighty Mo, the same time that the formal ceremonies began on that day in 1945. This year’s theme honored the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Guadalcanal. Free and open to the public, we had the honor of welcoming keynote speaker, Lieutenant General David H. Berger, Commander, US Marine Corps Force Pacific.

Veterans Day - In November, we held our special Veterans Day Sunset Ceremony on board the Battleship Missouri. The ceremony honored all veterans and held special tribute woman veterans of all generations. Jacqueline Ashwell, Superintendent for the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, served as our Distinguished Guest Speaker with Rear Admiral Alma M. Grocki, USN (Ret.) providing the opening address. Our keynote speaker was Colonel Kara A. Gormont, Commander, 15th Medical Group JBPHH.  


Monday, November 20, 2017

Veterans Day Sunset Ceremony

Veterans Day observances across our nation came to a close with a sunset ceremony held on-board the Battleship Missouri Memorial at Pearl Harbor.

This year’s ceremony featured a special tribute to women veterans both past and present who served in our Armed Forces. The theme, “Honoring Our Brave Women Veterans of All Generations” recognizes the vast contributions our women veterans have made to ensure America’s freedom, dates back to the American War of Independence. Currently, women veterans represent more than two million of our total veteran population nationwide.
“The importance of women serving our armed forces has grown in stature through the years and with each battle,” said Michael Carr, president and CEO of the USS Missouri Memorial Association, caretaker of the Battleship Missouri Memorial. “The achievements of our women veterans have helped to make the U.S. Military one of the most diverse organizations in America.”

Every year, the Battleship Missouri Memorial honors and pay homage to all those that have served and are serving for the United States of America not only on Veterans Day but every day. It is important that we never forget the men and woman that fought for our freedom.

Surrounded by the hallowed waters of Pearl Harbor, our Veterans Day sunset ceremony included a moment of silence to remember America’s fallen heroes followed by the playing of Taps by the 25th Infantry Division Band.

USS Missouri Veteran Spotlight: Art C. Albert Sr.
Born in Hattisburg, Missouri, Art is currently 90 years young. He was in the engineering department on the USS Missouri (BB-63). Art Albert is an original USS Missouri crewmember and World War II veteran, who witnessed the Surrender Ceremony onboard the Mighty Mo 72 years go. Albert served on the Missouri for four years, and retired from the Navy over 50 years ago. He has visited the ship many times since then.
"It's just like when you're away from home and then you go back, (the Missouri) was home to me," Albert said. "I left home and the ship was my first home away from home."
Art is one of few crewmembers that continue to come to the Battleship Missouri for our annual End of WWII Commemoration Ceremony and our organization cannot thank him enough for his involvement even after the Missouri’s retirement.


Monday, October 23, 2017

Happy Birthday U.S. Navy!

This year the United States Navy turned 242 years old, and though we usually talk about many of the famous Sailors who have served our nation or famous battles that took place, this year we want to focus on how the Navy came into being. For that, we have to go back to the year 1775 when the Navy was first created. The Navy can trace its heritage back to the Continental Navy that was set up during the American Revolution.
On 12 June 1775 Rhode Island became the first colony to create its own Navy of armed ships to protect its coasts from the British. It was from their example that the need for a strong Navy became obvious in order to protect the colonies. Thus, on 13 October 1775 the Second Continental Congress passed a resolution for the creation of the Continental Navy and Congress authorized the building of thirteen frigates to help protect the newly forming Republic. In 1783 the Treaty of Paris was signed and the American Revolutionary War was over and by 1785 the Continental Navy was disbanded.

After the American Revolution, the founding fathers met in Philadelphia for what has become known as the Constitutional Convention in 1787. It was at this meeting that the U.S. Constitution was written. While writing the document, many officials believed that having a standing Army was a trait of a monarchy which they used to enforce their rule over the people. The founding fathers did not want this to happen in the newly established United States so they put restrictions in the Constitution regarding the Army, but were confident that a strong Navy would only benefit the country. Constitution Article 1, Section 8 Clause 12 and 13 states, “To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years; To provide and maintain a Navy.” So it is from the Constitution that our current Navy truly stems from, but without the success of the Continental Navy, our current Navy would never have become what it is today.
The U.S. Navy has a long and proud history in the U.S. and we wouldn’t be the same country we are today without their Honor, Courage, and Commitment to our great nation. Knowing their history and heritage helps us as citizens to better understand our nation and what our founding fathers wanted this country to become.
Fair winds and following seas!
Author: Megan Plaumann (Archival Assistant)

Friday, September 15, 2017

72nd Anniversary of the End of WWII- Highlighting Harry's Violin

In May 1954, a collection of 50 musical instruments was donated to the Bayonne Public Library by Joseph Keinath. The collection included a violin with catalog records indicating that it had belonged to Harry William Ware, Gunners Mate Second Class (GM2/c), Gunnery Department, 8th Division. GM2/cWare was present aboard Missouri to witness the Surrender Ceremony in Toky o Bay that formally ended World War II. 
On January 20, 2017, the Ware violin was sent to Jaroslaw Powichrowski of Princeton Violins for conservation. He replaced missing strings and keys, tuned the violin and provided a period violin case to protect the instrument during storage and transportation.
On February 7, 2017, the Board of Trustees of the Bayonne Public Library & Cultural Center voted unanimously to send the Ware violin to the Battleship Missouri Memorial in Hawaii on indefinite loan so that visitors to the Pearl Harbor could see the violin on display in the officers’ Wardroom where it had originally been played during evening meals and other occasions.
After conservation efforts were completed, Jarek Powichrowski played the Ware violin on the evening of Saturday, February 25, 2017, and it had retained its deep rich beautiful sound!
Gerard Nowicki, a Vice President for JPMorgan Chase in Bayonne, New Jersey, who initially recognized the significance of the violin and contacted our curator, hand carried the violin to Pearl Harbor in time for our September 2 commemoration this year. 
Saturday, September 2, 2017, The ceremony started at 9:02AM; the very same time the surrender deck was signed. With clear skies, the ceremony also highlighted the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Guadacanal.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

VJ Day and its National Significance

VJ Day stands for “Victory over Japan Day.” On the afternoon of August 15, 1945, the Empire of Japan made the announcement of its surrender. While August 15th is the official VJ Day, September 2nd is when the official signing of the surrender documents happened on board the Battleship Missouri (BB-63), officially ending the deadliest war of our time. 

As the nation found out about their victory, it rejoiced- “as if joy had been rationed and saved up for the three years, eight months, and seven days since the Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.” Countless photographs were taken this day, including the very famous, “Kissing Sailor in Times Square.” Shot August 14th 1945, shortly after the much anticipated announcement by President Truman. This image is strongly associated with VJ Day, capturing the sincere joy as a symbol of victory in the war.
The famous photo taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt tells a bigger story than one might think. George Mendosa a sailor who was 22 at the time of this photograph is seen kissing a “nurse”, while his date, shown smiling on his left looks on.  The “nurse” who is actually a dental assistant is Greta Zimmer, a complete stranger George decided to plant an unexpected smooch on after a couple drinks and hearing of the news of the Japanese surrender. Later as luck would have it, Rita Petry (the onlooker) would become his wife.

Images from this day were taken all around the United States reflecting pure exhilaration and a giant sense of relief.

During the 50th anniversary of VJ Day, President Bill Clinton referred not to VJ Day but to the “End of the Pacific War” in the official remembrance ceremonies. These remarks sparked much controversy as some thought it to be insensitive for the Veterans of WWII.

Here at the Battleship Missouri Memorial, we are fortunate to have the iconic VJ Day kissing statue on our pier. This statue symbolizes VJ Day 3 weeks prior to the official signing of the Instrument of Surrender on September 2, 1945.

Often imitated but never duplicated because we will never know the exact genuine happiness of what these two strangers felt in that moment.

“Lest We Forget.” We honor those that fought for America not only today, but every day.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Admiral Roscoe Henry Hillenkoetter: Pearl Harbor Survivor to CIA Director

There were twenty commanding officers of the USS Missouri during the course of her career as an active ship. Three of them served as commanding officer twice, one witnessed the signing of the Instruments of Surrender, and one went on to be the first director of the CIA. 

Admiral Roscoe Henry Hillenkoetter wanted to be a baseball player when he grew up, but his appointment to the Naval Academy changed the course of his life. He was born in St. Louis, Missouri on May 8, 1897 and graduated from the United States Naval Academy, class of 1920. In 1918, during WWI, he served as a Midshipman on the USS Minnesota (BB-22) earning him the WWI Victory Medal. In 1932 he was sent to Nicaragua where he served during the Banana Wars and specifically the Second Nicaraguan Campaign. He was there to help facilitate with the elections happening in Nicaragua at the time. For his actions in Nicaragua he was presented the Nicaraguan Medal of Merit.

Later in the 1930s Hillenkoetter served at the American Embassy in Paris as an Assistant Naval Attaché, and in 1940 was appointed as the Naval Attaché in Vichy, France. His time in France is where he really developed his knowledge of Naval Intelligence. One interesting story of Hillenkoetter’s time as attaché took place not long after the Nazi’s marched into France. Hillenkoetter and assistant to the American Ambassador , Robert Murphy were instructed by Ambassador William Bullitt to pay a formal visit to the German Provisional military governor, Generalleutnant Bogislav von Studnitz. As luck would have it, Generalleutnant von Studnitz set up his headquarters at a hotel across the street from the U.S. Embassy. Hillenkoetter and Murphy had only been expecting to meet with the Generalleutnant for a few minutes, but to the benefit of the Americans, the general had previously ordered champagne from the Crillion’s excellent cellars and was in a mood to answer all the questions the military and naval attachés had. Hillenkoetter was able to use the intelligence gathered from Generalleutnant von Studnitz to help the allies before the U.S. had entered the war.

In the summer of 1941 Hillenkoetter left France and joined the crew of the USS West Virginia (BB-48) as Executive Officer. Ironically, he and his fellow sailors and military service members were the first to be impacted by America’s fractured intelligence apparatus, because the USS West Virginia was in port at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. On that fateful day the USS West Virginia was moored outboard of the USS Tennessee (BB-43) at berth F-6. Since the USS West Virginia was moored outboard the ship was hit badly by Japanese torpedoes and only through the courageous and quick actions of the West Virginia crew was the ship prevented from capsizing like the USS Oklahoma (BB-37). Hillenkoetter was the most senior surviving crewmember of the West Virginia and received the Purple Heart for injuries sustained during the attack.

In October 1945 Hillenkoetter assumed command of the USS Missouri (BB-63), the famed surrender ship. In the spring of 1946 the Missouri was chosen for a diplomatic assignment to Turkey to repatriate the body of Ambassador Mehmet Munir Ertegun. Ambassador Ertegun had passed away in 1944 while posted in the U.S. but due to the war it was unsafe to return him any sooner. Normally a cruiser would be chosen for this type of mission, but the Missouri, being one of the largest battleships ever built by the U.S. and the surrender ship, showed the strength of the U.S. to the Eastern European countries. Not only was the Missouri to repatriate the Ambassador, but the U.S. government had intended to demonstrate the U.S.’s resolve against communism. During this cruise the ship visited Istanbul, Athens, Rome and Algeria. While on board the Missouri the crew drew a picture of him riding on a magic carpet, which we proudly house in our museum collection.

In 1947 Hillenkoetter was appointed the first director of the newly established C.I.A., where he served for three years. When the Korean War broke out in June 1950 he decided to return to active duty. Hillenkoetter was given command of Cruiser Division One, with his flagship being the USS St. Paul (CA-73). While serving in the Korean War he commanded the naval gunfire which covered the South Korean advance up the east coast almost to China; then commanded the Marine evacuation southward again from Wonsan and Hungnam; and later commanded the Navy’s recapture of Seoul’s west coast outlet, the port of Inchon.  Hillenkoetter served as the Commander of Cruiser Division 1 in the Pacific from October 1950—August 1951. He was promoted to Vice Admiral on April 9, 1956 and served as Inspector General of the Navy until his retirement on May 1, 1957. After his retirement he was on the board of the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena from 1957-1962. Hillenkoetter died on June 18, 1982 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Admiral Hillenkoetter’s naval career was out of the ordinary in many ways. He fought in three wars, served as an attaché in France during a crucial time, survived one of the most devastating blows to the U.S. at Pearl Harbor, and had the opportunity to set up the CIA which has helped to keep the U.S. safe from international threats for the past 70 years. Though he was only on the USS Missouri for a short while, his legacy will continue to inspire others who visit the famous surrender ship through our exhibit dedicated to him on the second deck.

By guest blogger: Megan Plaumann, Archival Assistant