Monday, December 28, 2015

2015 - Year in Review

It’s the most wonderful time of the year- before we sail into 2016, join us on a journey down memory lane as we reflect back on some of the last year’s wonderful ‘MO’ments at the Battleship Missouri Memorial.

In January, we welcomed the public to enjoy a full day of festivities at Living History Day. This annual event commemorates the dual anniversaries of the Mighty Mo, first as a battleship ready for combat 71 years ago, and then as a memorial 55 years later. Attendees were entertained by live band performances, vendor booths and a variety of fun activities. FREE admission was offered to Hawaii residents and members of the Armed Forces.

April marked the 70th anniversary of the Kamikaze strike against the USS Missouri and when an act of humanity was shown in the midst of a devastating war. In commemoration, the Battleship Missouri Memorial unveiled a new exhibit focusing on the USS Missouri’s connection to the pilot and the historical background and circumstances that inspired Japan’s World War II Kamikaze. The exhibit contains historical photographs, personal artifacts, uniform items and a special display of farewell letters written by the pilots to their loved ones. 

We then kicked off the summer with Picnic on the Pier during the months of June, July and August. Guests of all ages enjoyed a picnic style evening on the pier, while listening to live entertainment by talented local artists- Jeremy Cheng, Chris Salvador and Jason Laeha. Limited tours and spectacular views were an added bonus. Guests were invited to bring their own food, drinks and picnic gear. New this year was Gordon Biersch who cooked up some delicious eats available for purchase. It was difficult to escape the aroma of their famous garlic fries- YUM! In June, we welcomed Yelp Hawaii and their Elite Yelpers to join in on the fun.  In July, over 1,800 guests celebrated their 4th of July with us at our Picnic on the Pier. In addition to our tours, everyone enjoyed the amazing fireworks show in Pearl Harbor. We also offered VIP tables which included admission for 8 guests, a dinner buffet and no host bar, a reserved table on the ship’s Fantail and a private viewing area for the fireworks.
This year also marked the 70th Anniversary of the End of World War II, the day that launched a better future. In commemoration of the 70th Anniversary, the Battleship Missouri Memorial held a variety of events leading up to September 2. Activities included trivia night in the ship’s Wardroom, a special two-day edition of Mo-Joe: A Cup of History, where we welcomed guest speakers Paul Stillwell, historian and author of USS Missouri: An Illustrated History, and Daniel Martinez, Chief Historian at the USS Arizona Memorial. We also launched Project Peace where guests were invited to join us in folding one thousand paper cranes as we reflected on the legacy of peace and international friendship launched 70 years ago. The project was inspired by the tragic yet hopeful story of Sadako Sasaki. The cranes were later donated and displayed at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Japan.
As part of the commemoration we also opened a new exhibit, located in the Wardroom, which displayed three of the original pens that were used by Admiral Nimitz and General MacArthur to sign and accept the Instrument of Surrender. The pens were on loan courtesy of The MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk Virginia, the United States Naval Academy Museum in Annapolis, Maryland, and the Nanjing Museum in China.
The anniversary events concluded with our annual End of World War II Commemoration Ceremony on September 2 where we welcomed over 700 guests. Attendees included former WWII crewmembers along with distinguished guests such as Congressman Mark Takai, United States Representative for Hawaii, who presented the congressional recognition to the USS Missouri Memorial Association. The students of Kamehameha Schools graced us with an opening ‘oli (chant) and Admiral Scott Swift, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet spoke as our distinguished guest speaker followed by Senator Brian Schatz, United States Senator for Hawaii, who gave the keynote address. Our 2015 student essay winner was Isaiah Casintahan from James Campbell High School, where students were instructed to interpret the meaning of our 70th Anniversary theme, The Day That Launched A Better Future. 

In November, we held our special Veterans Day Sunset Ceremony on board the Battleship Missouri. The ceremony honored all veterans and held a special tribute to those veterans who served during the Vietnam War, as 2015 marked the 40th anniversary of its conclusion. Captain Gerald Coffee, USN (Ret.) served as our Distinguished Guest Speaker. He is a Vietnam War veteran who was held as a prisoner of war for seven years from 1966-73 in the infamous ‘Hanoi Hilton.’ U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) presented the ceremony’s keynote address honoring the service of her fellow veterans. The ceremony also featured a flag folding tribute by the Hickam Honor Guard with a flag that was flown over the Battleship Missouri Memorial and presented to retired Colonel Jack Detour, who holds the distinction of having served in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, first with the U.S. Army and then with the U.S. Air Force.
Lastly, we would like to recognize the former crew members who visited the ship this year.
March 27 - Al Chagnon: 1988-90, NCC/SW, X Division, Admin. Dept.
May 26 - Steve Verdugo: 1987-88, SR 5th Division, Deck Dept.
May 21 - Andy Vasquez: 1990 – 92, Lt.JG, Engineering Dept.; B Division,’90-’92
June 15 - Rich Tarvin: 1990-91, FC2 F Division, Weapons Dept.  
September 11 – Michael “Mickey” Griffith: 1990-92, DP3 OA Division, Operations Dept.
November 14 - Joe Dorn: 1953-55, DC3 R Division, Engineering Dept.
James “Jim” E. Behling: 1952-55, SK2 S-2 Division, Supply Dept.

The Battleship Missouri was also lucky to welcome local Hawaii residents and former Mighty Mo crewmembers back regularly:

Lawrence “Larry” Doong: 1990-92, CDR, Chief Engineer, Engineering Dept.
Kenneth “Ken” Jordan: 1991-92, Captain CDR
Brooks Outland: 1950-52, FA Division, Gunnery Department

And last but not least, our USS Missouri WWII crewmembers who attended the 70th Anniversary Commemoration Ceremony who were present for the Surrender Ceremony in 1945:  Art Albert, Jack Brock, Lee Ray Broussard, Phillip Coneeny, Sam Dawson, Lindsey Edwards, Donald Fosburg, Gene Morse, Ray Morse, Tom Schonecker and Robert Watts.

To watch the complete 70th Anniversary Commemoration Ceremony visit:

Monday, November 23, 2015

A Tribute to Veterans

Each year, the Battleship Missouri Memorial hosts a special Veterans Day sunset ceremony on board the historic ship in the reverent waters of historic Pearl Harbor.  The ceremony honored the service and sacrifice of all veterans, and featured a special tribute to those veterans who served during the Vietnam War, as 2015 marks the 40th anniversary of its conclusion. 
America’s involvement in the Vietnam conflict spanned nearly 20 years, longest in U.S. history. Of the estimated 23.2 million U.S. veterans, 7.8 million – one-third of all veterans – served during Vietnam. The average infantryman in Vietnam was 22 years old and served 240 days of combat in one year.
U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) presented the ceremony’s keynote address honoring the service of her fellow veterans. Rep. Gabbard served two tours of duty in the Middle East and is currently a Military Police Major in the Hawaii Army National Guard.
“Today our nation is grateful and forever indebted to our fallen warriors. To those who served and came home, this is a debt that is impossible to measure and is impossible to perfectly repay. But it’s a debt that’s important for us to remember, to consider the cost of war. There’s no question about our men and women standing ready to answer the call. They volunteered to sacrifice everything for this great country, to do whatever needs to be done to protect the freedoms and the security that we cherish,” said Rep. Gabbard.
Capt. Gerald Coffee, USN (Ret.) served as the ceremony’s Distinguished Guest Speaker. Capt. Coffee, a Vietnam War veteran, was held as a prisoner of war for seven years from 1966-73 in the infamous ‘Hanoi Hilton’ where he was routinely subjected to torture and solitary confinement.
“I’m very proud of my service in Vietnam, as every Vietnam veteran should be. We accomplished so much more than we get credit for. Every Vietnam veteran should hold his or her head high and acknowledge the accomplishments that we achieved there. Congratulations on a job extremely well done,” said Capt. Coffee.
As an organization, the Battleship Missouri is home to a current crew of veteran staff and volunteers, including Tim Guard, Chairman of the USS Missouri Memorial Association, who presented the opening address. Guard, served in Vietnam as an officer for the U.S. Navy in 1969-70. His patrol boat unit, the Black Cat Squadron, fought in the heavy combat zones of Vietnam’s river deltas and was one of the war’s most highly decorated naval units.
“We Vietnam veterans came home to a nation of fellow Americans who hardly seemed to care that we had ever left. People were apathetic at best, derisive at their worst. Time and circumstances have moderated the attitudes of many about the Vietnam War. Thankfully, a lasting lesson learned from the experience of Vietnam is that veterans now return home greeted by well-deserved tributes for their service. Proclamations are issued, bands play patriotic music, parades march along main street, and people cheer. America truly affirms the pride and appreciation our nation has for the courage, valor, sacrifice, and service of our veterans,” said Guard.  

Capt. Gerald "Jerry" Coffee (3rd from left), Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (3rd from right), and Tim Guard (far right) were featured speakers at today's sunset ceremony onboard the Battleship Missouri Memorial.
The ceremony also featured patriotic music by the U.S. Army 25th Infantry Division Band, a certificate presentation by members of the Hawaii State Senate, and a flag folding tribute by the Hickam Honor Guard. The flag, which was flown over the Battleship Missouri Memorial earlier in the day, was presented to retired Colonel Jack Detour, who holds the distinction of having served in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, first with the U.S. Army and then with the U.S. Air Force.
Special recognition goes to our own Mighty Mo veteran staff members:
George Arine, U.S. Army                 Michael Carr, U.S. Army           Marvin Dumlao, U.S. Army National Guard
Paul Dyson, U.S. Coast Guard        Jeff Eck, U.S. Army                  Laurence Elrich, U.S. Navy
John Fernie, U.S. Navy                   Daniel Fey, U.S. Army               Henry 'Hank' Heren, U.S. Air Force
Robert Honea, U.S. Air Force          Henry 'Kimo' James, U.S. Navy   Jim King, U.S. Navy
James Kingery, U.S. Army & Navy  David Kinney, U.S. Army            Leslie Lancaster, U.S. Navy
Tobias Lanqcaon, U.S. Navy           Thomas Manuel, U.S. Navy        Peter Masga, U.S. Navy
Jason Morrison, U.S. Marine Corps  Robert Morrison, U.S. Navy        Zachary Musolf-Domstead, U.S. Navy
Kevin Naeyaert, U.S. Navy              Michael Nolan, U.S. Army          Daniel Parsons, U.S. Navy
William Powers, U.S. Marine Corps  Patricia Roebuck, U.S. Navy       Richard Rupe, U.S. Coast Guard
Ralph Schmidt, U.S. Navy               Harold 'Doc' Simpson, U.S. Army Elbert Stills, U.S. Coast Guard
David Suhs, U.S. Navy                   Robert White, U.S. Army              Michael Weidenbach, U.S. Air Force 
Greg Williams, U.S. Marine Corps    Keven Williamson, U.S. Navy       Andrew Toia, U.S. Army National Guard
Michael Yanagihashi, U.S. Army

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

It’s about remembering

At this year’s USS Missouri BB-63 Association reunion of former crewmembers, we gathered for the annual memorial service. Reverend Eugene Land began the service and talked about the importance of remembering. And, as the service proceeded, as the names of the departed were read, as the whistle of the bos’n’s pipe and the tolling of the bell sounded, with silent tears and heads bowed, we remembered.

This year, 2015, marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. It also marked the 150th anniversary of the end of our nation’s Civil War as well as the 40th anniversary of the end of America’s war in Vietnam.  And, on the 11th of November, the anniversary of the end of World War I, we will honor and remember the service and sacrifice of veterans of all wars.

Aboard USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945, General of the Army Douglas MacArthur stood before the microphone amid representatives of the warring nations and said:

“It is my earnest hope and indeed the hope of all mankind that from this solemn occasion a better world shall emerge out of the blood and carnage of the past…”

In line with that hope, we characterize this year’s anniversary commemoration of September 2nd as “the day that launched a better future.”  Yet, we look around the world today, and we remember the past 70 years and the decades and centuries preceding and see wars raging world-wide.

In light of our world’s history, in the midst of these ongoing conflicts, it is easy to allow ourselves to feel the futility of that hope for a better future, and it is easy to turn away, to close our eyes and minds and hearts to the brutality and tragedy of wars past and present.

On this 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, we briefly paused and allowed ourselves to remember, and we will again and again, every September 2 on board the USS Missouri.

But for veterans of war, remembrance doesn’t wait for anniversary dates, it is part of daily life. For those who gave their lives in war, there is only a silence.

Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz provided this perspective of war and defined our obligation:

“They fought together as brothers in arms; they died together and now they sleep side by side...To them, we have a solemn obligation — the obligation to ensure that their sacrifice will help make this a better and safer world in which to live.”

But where do we begin?

We remember.

Submitted by special guest blogger: Mike Weidenbach, Curator, Battleship Missouri Memorial

(caption): This is a US Army Signal Corps photograph that we discovered among the thousands in the collections of the National Archives at College Park, MD during a recent research visit.

On a mountain top in Northern Luzon at war’s end, Marine PFC Elmer Pitlik lights a cigarette for a Japanese guard as American and Japanese forces met to discuss surrender arrangements for Japanese forces remaining in the Philippines. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015


Seventy years ago, on September 2 at 9:02 a.m., more than two weeks after accepting the Allies terms, Japan formally surrendered. The ceremony took place on board the 01 Deck of the USS Missouri where she was anchored with over 200 allied warships in Tokyo Bay. Her superstructure was crowded by media and spectators who stood by to witness the day that launched a better future for the world. 


General of the Army, Douglas MacArthur, stepped forward to begin the proceedings and said, "It is my earnest hope, and indeed the hope of all mankind, that from this solemn occasion a better world shall emerge out of the blood and carnage of the past -- a world dedicated to the dignity of man and the fulfillment of his most cherished wish for freedom, tolerance and justice." 

Two copies of the Instrument of Surrender were signed by representatives of the Allied and Axis powers. First to sign was Japanese foreign minister, Mamoru Shigemitsu, he signed on behalf of the Emperor of Japan and the Japanese Government. Followed by Yoshijiro Umezu who signed on behalf of the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters. General Douglas MacArthur, Commander in the Southwest Pacific and Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, signed on behalf of the Allies and Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz signed for the United States.


Within twenty-three minutes, one of the bloodiest wars came to an end. General MacArthur concluded the ceremony by saying, “Let us pray that peace be now restored to the world, and that God will preserve it always. These proceeding are closed.” With those words, World War II was over. U.S. Navy carrier aircraft from Task Force 38 flew in formation over the USS Missouri as the surrender ceremony concluded. Today, a surrender plaque is displayed on the USS Missouri’s 01 Deck, located in the exact place where the Instrument of Surrender was signed.

In commemoration of the 70th Anniversary, the Battleship Missouri Memorial opened a new exhibit, located in the Wardroom, which displays three of the original pens that were used by Admiral Nimitz and General MacArthur to sign and accept the Instrument of Surrender. These pens are on loan courtesy of The MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk, Virginia, the United States Naval Academy Museum in Annapolis, Maryland, and the Nanjing Museum in China. 

On behalf of the USS Missouri Memorial Association, we would like to honor and recognize our former crewmembers that were on board the USS Missouri and witness to the Surrender Ceremony on September 2, 1945.

Please note: The following photos were shared with us by friends and family on Facebook. 
                           Ernest Thompson, Age 97


Art Albert, Fireman First Class, Age 88      Sky Fredrickson, 1927-2015     Anthony Schulmeister 1915-1993 


            Otto Wilkinson, Age 90

    Robert V. Shultz, RM3C, Age 89 

Albert J. Gurtner, Fireman Second Class, A Division 1924-2015 

Johnnie Barr, PFC USMC, Age 94 

Never forget the Greatest Generation and the day that launched a better future. So whether you lived it, learned it or seen it, we encourage you to share your stories. #ShareMore 

Friday, July 31, 2015

Mighty Mo Campus

Each year the USS Missouri Memorial Association welcomes students, teachers and parents from all around the world to explore the decks of the Mighty Mo and to learn about her story through our interactive educational programs. Within the past 6 months, our Education Department hosted over 7,500 education visitors which included twenty-seven school groups who participated in our Overnight Encampment program. Just like real sailors, the students experienced “life at sea” where they slept in the crew berthing areas, ate in the ship’s mess deck and learned the importance of leadership, communication and teamwork through on board activities.

Ninety-one education groups took part in our day-time education programs. This included 22 schools who took part in our Mighty Mo Robotics class, nine schools who joined our newest program, Journey with the Stars, six schools for the Dental Health program and tour, eight classes of second graders who participated in Math Measurement and 29 groups who captured hands-on history through our guided and self-guided tours of the Battleship Missouri. 

Over thirty schools from California, Texas, Arizona, Minnesota and Canada, just to name a few, took part in our Music Exhibition program. School bands, choirs and performance groups showcased their musical talents as they paid tribute to the Mighty Mo. The Battleship Missouri also welcomed four of Hawaii’s school bands: Ewa Makai Middle School, James Campbell High School, Keone’ula Elementary School Fife and Drum and Maui’s Lokelani Intermediate School. 

Our educational efforts extend beyond the decks of the Mighty Mo. With our Worldwide Video Teleconference program, school groups who are unable to visit the ship can experience a virtual tour of the Mighty Mo while learning about this famous battleship and her role in World War II. This program continues to reach 461 students from seven schools on the mainland.

“Just finished a Skype session with the USS Missouri. This was an amazing session! The information was relevant and informative. The education specialist (Neil Yamamoto) tailored the lesson for our kids and they loved it! Please check this Skype session out!” -Teacher from Sioux City, Iowa

To come aboard the largest classroom and to learn more about the Battleship Missouri’s education programs, please visit our website at You may also contact our Education Director at (808) 455-1600 ext. 240 or by email at

Monday, June 22, 2015

Aloha Mighty Mo!

On June 21, 1998, Hawaii welcomed America’s last battleship, the USS Missouri. Thousands of spectators stood along Oahu’s shorelines from mauka (mountains) to makai (ocean) as they anxiously awaited the passing of the Mighty Mo. For many, it was the first time seeing the Battleship Missouri in open waters; an experience like no other. 
The following morning, just after 8:35 a.m., the Victory Sea and Navy tug boats led the Mighty Mo into Pearl Harbor as she finished her 29 day, 2,715 mile journey from the Pacific Northwest. 

Thousands of people gathered by the Hickam Officers’ Club and stood on the beaches of Iroquois Point to get a glimpse of the famous American hero. Among the many spectators was Word War II veteran, Jiro Yukimura, who witnessed the signing of the Instrument of Surrender on September 2, 1945 on board the Battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay.

At 9:15 a.m. the USS Missouri reached Pier Foxtrot 5 where she begin her watch over her fallen sister ship, the USS Arizona

Jennie Yukimura captures a photo of her husband, Jiro and granddaughter, Maile Wehrheim.

On January 29, 1999, the Missouri opened up as a museum and tourist attraction to the public. Since then, the association has taken on numerous projects which include the restoration of the ship’s teak deck, the Wardroom, the ship’s superstructure, staterooms, berthing areas, new exhibits and more. With the support from employees, volunteers, members, donors and visitors, the USS Missouri Memorial Association, a non-profit 501(c)(3), is able to continue to share the ship’s story and her place in history. Today, the Missouri welcomes over 500,000 visitors each year.
This year, the association will be commemorating the 70th Anniversary of the End of World War II, under the theme, The Day that Launched a Better Future. The ceremony will be held on Wednesday, September 2, 2015 at 9:02 a.m. at the Battleship Missouri where the Instrument of Surrender was signed in 1945. For more information and to confirm your attendance to this anniversary event, please visit-

Were you one of the thousands of spectators who saw the Mighty Mo arrive in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii in 1998? We encourage you to share your story and experience in the comments below. 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Return of the Mo

On this day, 29 years ago, the USS Missouri was recommissioned for the second time. The United States suffered from a sequence of events during the 1970s creating a perception that the country was weak. In response, a program was established to build a six hundred ship fleet, led by Secretary of the Navy John F. Lehman. The entire project to modernize and reactivate the USS Missouri cost nearly 475 million dollars which is over four times her original cost during World War II.

Captain Lee Kaiss was reported to be the commanding officer of the USS Missouri.  On September 12, 1985, the first crew members moved onto the ship and got acquainted with her by working in stages. As time went on, the crew members developed a feeling of pride and ownership of the Mighty Mo. To display their pride, bumper stickers were made, one of the most popular being, “Battleship Sailors Do It with 16-inchers.” Bumper stickers were found in a variety of places-the shipyard, on trucks, cranes and buildings. Captain Kaiss supported his crew’s spirit and educated them by sharing the ship’s story and history. He would also remind them that, “Missouri sailors walked six inches taller than anyone else.” 

The newly modernized and freshly painted Missouri steamed into San Francisco on May 6, 1986. The recommissioning ceremony took place four days later at pier thirty-two, just near the Oakland Bay Bridge. Approximately twelve thousand spectators joined the event as the crew members lined up alongside the ship. Standing on the Surrender Deck was Captain Kaiss and several politicians who took part in the ceremony.

As Captain Kaiss concluded his speech, the crew members ran across the ship’s brow. They were found manning the main deck, climbing ladders to the decks of the superstructure while others disappeared inside of the Missouri. As the audience continued to face the Mighty Mo, her 16 inch guns and 5 inch guns turned towards them and rose to maximum elevation. The Tomahawk missiles were placed in their firing position and her Vulcan/Phalanx close-in weapon system began to rotate. The Missouri had officially returned.

Today, the USS Missouri Memorial Association serves as her caretaker with the support of daily visitors, volunteers and donors. Although no longer an active ship, she continues to serve as a symbol of peace, honor and strength. So whether you lived it, learned it or seen it, #sharemore.