Monday, March 16, 2015

The Last Battleship

On March 31, 1992, America’s last and greatest battleship was decommissioned for the second and final time at NAVSTA Long Beach, California. The United States suffered from defense budget cuts and the cost of maintaining and operating battleships became uneconomical. “I found that day to be very somber and sad, yet proud and inspiring,” said Larry Doong, the USS Missouri’s last Chief Engineer. “As a crewmember, it was difficult to face the fact that they were decommissioning a beautiful, trustworthy ship but we all understood the financial rationale behind it all.”

The Missouri crew mans the rails during the USS Missouri’s decommissioning ceremony at NAVSTA Long Beach, California.

Captain Albert Lee Kaiss was the Battleship Missouri’s last commanding officer. He also served as the first commanding officer after the Missouri’s recommissioning in 1986. Larry expressed how difficult it was to say goodbye to Captain Lee Kaiss as he was the man who took them to battle and returned them all home safely.

Captain Albert Lee Kaiss

The USS Missouri was launched on January 29, 1944 at the Brooklyn Naval Shipyard. She participated in the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa during World War II where she served as the site of surrender on September 2, 1945. She participated in the Korean War and was decommissioned for the first time in 1955. She was later modernized and recommissioned on May 10, 1986 and served in Operation Desert Storm.

The Battleship Missouri was quite the fighting fury, but she was more than a warship. She was a home for thousands and thousands of sailors who are all now a part of her history and legacy. She was a place for everlasting friendships and moments that would turn into stories for future generations. “It was sad to say aloha to our shipmates, as the word shipmate took on a whole new meaning after going to war with everyone.” During the decommissioning ceremony, Larry stood aboard the Mighty Mo facing the audience with his fellow crewmen. At that moment, he felt the camaraderie that developed between them. “We shared something unique and treasured being a Mighty Mo sailor ...and that is something I will not forget.”

A crew member lowers the colors of the USS Missouri for the last time.

“The Missouri is not a symbol of might in war, but a symbol of might in peace.” These were the words of President Harry Truman. Today, the Mighty Mo proudly sits in the hallowed waters of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, enjoying retirement, as her legacy continues. So whether you’ve lived it, learned it or seen it, we encourage you to post your stories and upload your photos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #sharemore. Be sure to tag us @BattleshipMissouri. 

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