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: 

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 or call at 455-1600 x250. The deadline to RSVP is Friday, September 30. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


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.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Not Your Traditional Picnic

A summer sunset paired with an evening of live music, good eats, rich history and stunning views. Inspired by the U.S. Navy tradition, “Steel Beach Picnic,” the Battleship Missouri Memorial welcomes its 3rd annual Picnic on the Pier series.

During the months of June, July and August, the community is invited to bring blankets, beach chairs, food and drinks to enjoy a picnic style event with their family and friends at the Mighty Mo. The ship’s main deck and the Surrender Deck are open for touring complemented with our knowledgeable tour guides who are stationed throughout the ship to share her stories. The Missouri’s Education team hosts fun activities for the kids to enjoy. Delicious dishes, beer and wine by Gordon Biersch are also available for purchase at the event.

Traditionally, Steel Beach Picnics were held on the ship’s flight deck, hence the name ‘Steel Beach.’ Grills were fired up to cook hot dogs, hamburgers and baked beans and Sailors partook in sporting games for friendly competition. These picnics were a time for crew members to take a break from their daily operations, to relax and to have some fun while underway. The tradition also raised and maintained the Sailors morale.
The Mighty Mo kicked off its first Picnic on the Pier of 2016 on Friday, June 3- also National Donut Day! To celebrate the sweet holiday, the Battleship Missouri partnered with Salvation Army Hawaii who handed out free Krispy Kreme donuts in exchange for a canned good, which helped to provide assistance to families and seniors in need throughout Hawaii.
Historically, the Salvation Army established a mission to provide for the needs of U.S. soldiers fighting in France. Near the end of WWI, Salvation Army volunteers cleverly thought to fry donuts in soldier’s helmets, despite their limited ingredients and facilities. The sweet treats, along with the warm hearts and glowing smiles of those who served them, brought a bit of comfort to American soldiers who were serving our country.
That evening’s entertainment was provided by local artists, Melaniie and Evan.
The most anticipated and patriotic picnic of the summer series is held on the 4th of July. In addition to all the festivities, guests have the opportunity to view Pearl Harbor’s most spectacular fireworks show on the pier and ship of America’s last battleship. Last year, she welcomed over 1,200 event goers.

Duo artists, Jeremy Cheng and Alex Oasay are shceduled provide great music for all guests to enjoy. The event begins at 6:00PM and the fireworks show is scheduled to start at 9:05PM. The final picnic of the summer will be held on Friday, August 12 from 5:30 to 8:00PM. Entertainment will be provided by Randy Allen.

For more information and to pre-purchase your tickets, please visit our website at You can also follow the Battleship Missouri on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest for the latest event updates.

Friday, May 6, 2016

"My Ship"

The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards and guidelines for Historic Vessel Preservation Projects defines four treatment approaches. Those are: preservation, rehabilitation, restoration and reconstruction.

The intended process of the first of those, preservation, is described as:
 “…placing a high premium on the retention of all historic fabric through conservation, maintenance and repair. It reflects a building’s (or ship’s) continuum over time, through successive occupancies, and the respectful changes and alterations that are made”.

In 1998, as staff and volunteers for the USS Missouri Memorial Association began the initial work of preparing the battleship for opening to the public, there was little awareness of those Historic Preservation standards, guidelines or specific treatments among those first staff and volunteers who were busy cleaning, chipping, painting and working hard to make the battleship shine again.

What we did learn was that historic preservation of a historic battleship is hard physical labor.
As weeks and months passed, our relationship with the Missouri became personal, we called that feeling the “Mo Bug”; it was contagious and everyone caught it.

We came to know the physicality of the battleship intimately; every nut and bolt, every teak plank, everything about the ship gradually become more and more familiar, and it was clear to us what our job was all about.

Then came a moment, a visit by a former crewmember, and then another, and finally another. And as we walked the decks with these veterans of WWII and Korea and Operation Desert Storm, we suddenly began to see the battleship quite differently.

Until then, we had come to know the ship as a place, as a physical presence, and an empty, lifeless ex-Navy battleship. Now suddenly, we began to see the ship as a living, breathing presence filled with familiar smells and sounds and memories of historic times, and shipmates, and ports of call, and life at sea - and of war and being far away from home.

Suddenly preservation took a turn for us.

As we continued the physical labor of historic vessel preservation, and as we learned about the treatments and standards and guidelines of our responsibilities, we also recognized that there was a purpose and obligation in our work that went far beyond the preservation of the nuts and bolts and steel and teak of this historic vessel. We began to appreciate that preservation was also about remembrance, about memory, about generations of crewmembers who lived and worked and would always remember their precious time aboard this historic battleship.

In the 1944 2nd edition of the Naval Officer Guide, is a narrative poem by an anonymous author, entitled: “The Soul of a Ship” that reflects our shared realization about historic preservation and the obligation we have taken to heart. It is quoted in part below:

   “The Soul of a ship is a marvelous thing,
   Not made of its wood or its steel,
   But fashioned of mem’ries and songs that men sing,
   And fed by the passions men feel.
   It’s built of ambition, of jealousy, strife,
   Of friendship, of love, and of fear;
   It includes almost all of the makings of Life;
   It’s nurtured on grumble and cheer.”

   The Soul of a ship is a molder of men –
   Her spirit lives on through the years,
   As she started her life, so she is to the end;
   She shares each recruit’s hopes and fears.
   And each man who joins feels the breath of her life –
   As he stands up and takes heart again –
   So he takes to himself the old sea as his wife,
   And the ship’s made a man among men.” 

And so we learned that historic preservation is the hard, difficult labor of physically preserving a battleship. But we also learned and are striving to preserve the remembrances of generations of crew who breathed life into her and always called her “My ship”. 

Post by guest blogger: Mike Weidenbach, Curator, USS Missouri Memorial Association

The Battleship Missouri Memorial is celebrating National Preservation Month and spreading the word on why This Place Matters. We encourage you to do your part by sharing her story or contributing to her preservation. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Valuing Our Volunteers

Did you MO that April is National Volunteer Month? The dedication and hard work that volunteers provide plays an important role in supporting the USS Missouri Memorial Association’s mission. Many of them are at the ship day-to-day, working tirelessly on projects and preservation efforts for America’s last battleship. To celebrate the spirit of volunteerism, we are highlighting the Mighty Mo’s incredible team of volunteers.

The Battleship Missouri is proud to welcome supporters from all around the world. Volunteers include: the Rotary Club, the Odd Fellows, Kiwanis Key Club, Easter Seals, Waipahu High School, Mililani High School, NIOC Hawaii, the 715th Military Intelligence Battalion, the USS Jefferson City, the USS Michael Murphy and the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard just to name a few. 

One of the key elements to preserving the Battleship Missouri is the association’s “Adopt-A-Space” program. Over the years, many of the military commands, civic organizations and commercial companies have adopted spaces such as the bridge, engine room, the combat engagement center, gun turrets, gun mounts and the Surrender Deck. Volunteer groups restore these areas to true flagship condition and continue to maintain these locations over a period of time.

When the Battleship Missouri was active duty in World War II, there were over 2,500 Sailors maintaining the ship. Today, the USS Missouri Memorial Association has less than 25 ship maintenance staff working on her decks. Volunteers are needed to restore and preserve teak decks, metal decks, bulkheads, displays and equipment. 

As a mighty mahalo, the USS Missouri Memorial Association invites all of the volunteers to enjoy a fun and relaxing Fourth of July barbecue at the ship. In addition, the association holds a Volunteer Recognition Event at the beginning of the year. The purpose of these events is to acknowledge all individuals who dedicate themselves to restoring the Mighty Mo and to honor outstanding volunteers and volunteer groups who sail above and beyond to support the ship. Congratulations to all those who were recognized for their performance in 2015. Your great efforts help to preserve her story for  generations to come.

 USS Missouri Memorial’s 2015 Volunteer Award Recipients

Outstanding Volunteer of the Year 2015
Wayne Ohashi
USS Missouri Legacy Award: Outstanding Military Support
Geoffrey Schaeffer
Truman Centennial Award: Outstanding Senior Volunteer
Dom Bracken
Big Guns Award: Volunteer Jack of All Trades
Roy Taira
Outstanding Adopt-A-Space
Executive Transport Detachment
Outstanding Military Support
Naval Health Clinic Hawaii
Outstanding Military Group Support
NIOC Hawaii
Outstanding Group Support
Waipahu High School
Outstanding Group Support
Easter Seals
Outstanding Volunteer Support
Patricia Suhs
Outstanding Group Support
715th Military Intelligence Battalion
2015 Teak Support
Annette “Netter” Lancaster

Outstanding Volunteer Group
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
Outstanding Volunteer Group
Downtown Rotary
Outstanding High School Student Volunteer
Jared Tomori
Lifetime Achievement
Larry Castillo

Interested in becoming a volunteer? Visit our website at or contact our Director of Volunteers, Keven Williamson, at or (808) 455-1500 x224.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Continuing Her Legacy - Get to Know the Mighty Mo

When three friends sat down for lunch in early 1994, no one could have predicted how their meeting would change the way Pearl Harbor is seen today. At the time, the Battleship Missouri had been recently removed from the Navy’s ship registry after being decommissioned for the final time on March 31, 1992. With the right setting and proper support system, the ship could be eligible for donation. Retired Honolulu executive Edwin Carter, retired Admiral Ron Hays, and retired Navy veteran Harold Estes, founders of the Battleship Missouri, agreed, “Why not Pearl Harbor?” In March 1994, the USS Missouri Memorial Association was officially registered as a non-profit organization, and its volunteer board of directors set out to make the case for Hawaii.


On May 4, 1998, the Navy made it official and entrusted the battleship’s care to the Association. Six weeks later, on June 21, 1998, Father’s Day, the Missouri received a hero’s welcome as it was towed into the waters fronting Honolulu’s shoreline. The Battleship Missouri Memorial opened on January 29, 1999, at Pier Foxtrot-5 on Ford Island, Pearl Harbor.

Today, visitors can walk her decks, stand on the spot where the formal surrender took place ending WWII, tour the wardroom and officers’ quarters, see how the crew lived, ate and slept and gain an understanding of how the Navy operated on the high seas.


Dedicated to preserving the Battleship Missouri and sharing her story and place in history, the USS Missouri Memorial Association also offers volunteer, military and educational programs to support these efforts.

Mighty Support for the Mighty Mo
When the Battleship Missouri was active duty in WWII, there were over 2,500 Sailors maintaining the ship. Today, the USS Missouri Memorial Association has less than 25 ship maintenance staff working on her decks. Volunteers are vital to restore and preserve her teak decks, metal decks, bulkheads, displays and equipment. Each month, we rely on approximately 36 Civilian individual volunteers, 16 military volunteer groups, and 8 Non-military volunteer groups to deliver roughly 1,800 hours of volunteer manpower.

Saluting Our Military

To honor the commitment of all the men and women past and present who served our great country, the USS Missouri Memorial Association is proud to host Military Ceremonial Programs including Retirements, Reenlistments, and Change of Commands among others for service members in all branches of the military. In 2015, the Battleship Missouri hosted over 1,000 military ceremonies.

Education for the Next Generation
Each year the USS Missouri Memorial Association welcomes students, teachers and parents from all around the world to explore the decks of the historic Mighty Mo and to learn about her story through our interactive education programs. In 2015, we hosted more than 12,000 education visitors through programs such as Mighty Mo Robotics, Journey with the Stars, Dental Health, Math Measurement and guided tours. Additionally, 660 students participated in our Worldwide Video Teleconference program, experiencing the ship and her role in World War II virtually.

Although she no longer reports for duty, her legacy continues. Get to know the Mighty Mo by following us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+.  We encourage you to be a part of her journey and join the conversation by sharing your best moment and stories about the historic Battleship Missouri on social media using the hashtag #MightyMOments. 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

5 Things You Probably Didn’t ‘MO’ About President Harry S. Truman and the Mighty Mo

Harry S. Truman served as the 33rd President of the United States from 1945 to 1953. Prior to his presidency, he was the United States Senator for his home state, Missouri. He played an important role in the USS Missouri’s journey. In honor of Presidents Day, we are going to share some fun facts to help you get to know the Mighty Mo. Here you will discover why President Truman was such a huge supporter of the USS Missouri and his connection to this historic ship.

Fun Fact 1:

President Truman’s daughter, Margaret Truman, served as the USS Missouri’s sponsor. She christened the ship during the launching ceremony at the New York Navy Yard on January 29, 1944. 

Fun Fact 2:
The USS Missouri was chosen as the site of the Surrender Ceremony ending World War II by President Truman. He announced Japan’s acceptance of unconditional surrender on August 14, 1945.

Fun Fact 3:
President Truman came aboard the USS Missouri during the Navy Day celebrations in New York on October 27, 1945. He along with the Commander in Chief of the Atlantic Fleet, ADM Jonas H. Ingram, and his Chief of Staff, FADM William D. Leahy, examined the commemorative plaque that marked the spot where the Japanese signed the instrument of surrender on the deck of the Missouri.

He also signed a guest log while being seated at the same table that was used for the signing of the surrender documents in Tokyo Bay. In his address during the Navy Day celebrations, Truman spoke these words, “control of our sea approaches and of the skies above them is still the key to our freedom and to our ability to help enforce the peace of the world."

Fun Fact 4:
The Missouri’s chow line was renamed the Truman Line in honor of President Truman. In 1947, the Missouri crew welcomed President Truman and his family aboard the Mighty Mo during a 12-day return cruise to Norfolk, Virginia, following a conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Truman Family made it a point to have meals with the officers and crew during the cruise, endearing them to the entire crew.

Fun Fact 5:  
By 1949, three of the four Iowa Class battleships had been decommissioned. However, President Truman ordered for the Missouri to remain in service because of his fondness for the ship. Shortly after, she served in the Korean War. 

Photos by: NavSource Online, USS Missouri Memorial Association collections and Wikipedia.