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: https://ussmissouri.org/get-involved/events/end-of-wwii-commemoration/