Passport to the World over 64 years. Pages from my Travel Diary Visit to Honolulu to attend the 60th. Anniversary of the signing of the Japanese Surrender on the 2nd of September 2005.
The ship is now secured alongside a pier on Ford Island at the US Navy base of Pearl Harbor, and was handed over to the USS Missouri Memorial Association by the US Secretary for the Navy in 1998.
My wife Denise, and I, were invited by that Memorial Association to be on board the Mighty Mo for the historic 60th. Anniversary of that memorable day in 1945 when WW2 finally officially came to an end.
16 inch guns of Missouri
We set off on our way on the 31st. of August 2005.
The 1st. of September 2005.
After boarding, we were pleased to find an empty seat next to Denise, and the 10 hour flight passed as slowly as they do. When the Captain announces, "Sit back and enjoy your Flight." Can he really be serious?
Arrival at Honolulu Airport.
Utter chaos, we have never seen such a mess, with people desperately picking over the piles and piles of luggage, many of the cases looking alike. At last we tracked down our two simple cases, and went off to pass customs, no trouble there, and then wait for a taxi. Finally we were on our way out of the wretched airport to the Outrigger Luana, a 14 storey condominium complex, set in front of a park with the ocean in the near distance.
The Military Liaison Officer working with the Missouri Memorial association had organised this suite for our first three days here. It was thankfully ready, and consisted of a fitted kitchen, with the biggest refrigerator we had ever seen, it dominated the area, sitting there like an Everest, overlooking the scene. A large electric stove, double sink with a sinkerator, and dish washer. All the necessary china, glasses and cutlery for 6 included.
Then came the lounge room with a great TV, and rather heavy Hawaiian type furniture, and a small terrace overlooking the park with the ocean nearby. This area was served by a rather ancient and noisy, on the floor air conditioner, that was in dire need of replacement, we found it better to switch it off, and rely on a similar one in the bedroom that was much less noisy to run.
A second TV in the bedroom, then a large bathroom with a shower over the bath, and a walk in wardrobe, which included a safe that could be set to our combination. All in all, very suitable at a reasonable cost for Hawaii, Mildred Courtney the Military Liaison lady had done well by us, thank you.
Thursday the 2nd. of September 2005.
But, time was ticking by, and our progress was meagre, our driver was well aware of our deadline, and with great skill moved right and across about four lanes of traffic, we thought her negotiation of these lanes quite brilliant, and she saved some 15 minutes. At last we passed the blockage, and got moving, I had been sent a VIP Car Pass to allow us over the bridge to Ford Island, anyone wanting to visit Missouri, had to pay the fee of $16 by the Submarine Bowfin, then take the Association trolley across the bridge to Ford Island, and down to the pier where the battleship is moored. This takes about 7 minutes.
I also had a personally named WWII Veteran Pass worn on a Red, White and Blue USS Missouri Pearl Harbor lanyard, it worked miracles at all check points, we were saluted and waved through. We were close to the ship, and on alighting from our transport ( it was returning to pick us up at 10.45 AM ) Denise said "My Husband has a bad knee!" up sailed a small conveyance driven by a US sailor, to pick us up, and drive to the check in table.
My WW11 Veteran's Pass which worked like Magic
A quick look at my Pass, a look at a typed list, and we were registered, no fuss, all like clockwork, and a US Army Airforce guide, dressed smartly in his blue uniform was allocated to get us to the Missouri gangway nearby. Here we were handed over to a US Marine in dress uniform, with polished shoes so bright they dazzled. Our Marine handed us both a bottle of water, branded as USS Missouri, American Hero water, to me a Navy blue cap, on its front in gold lettering read: WE REMEMBER 60th Anniversary Sept 2nd 1945-2005.
At the back, also in gold lettering: Battleship Missouri Memorial Pearl Harbor Hawaii. We were each given a small pack of Missouri souvenirs, and a copy of the Official Programme, headed The End of World War 11.
Our Marine conducted us on board, up the starboard side, behind No 2 triple 16 inch gun turret to our seats on the port side abreast the No 2 turret, and facing aft. On our left, the flags of the US allies flew, mounted on short poles with the Australian flag first, and the Japanese flag also was displayed, last in this row of about six flags.
A huge wreath stood below this row of flags, soon to be guarded by a Marine on each side, standing rigidly at attention.
Parade the Colors.
The Star Spangled Banner.
Post the Colors.
Message from the Governor, State of Hawaii.
Wreath Presentation in Honor of WW11 Veterans.
1. Colonel Ben N. Scardon, US Army ( R'td ) WW2 Prisoner of War of the Japanese.
He was transferred to Manchuria, and was near death on occasion, and was really saved by the dedication of two mates from Clemson University, who kept him alive in the freezing conditions by the the heat of their own bodies on top of Ben who outlived them both. As a last resort in fighting for life with his will to live, he exchanged his Clemson University ring secretly for a bit of food including a chicken.
Ben was finally released by the Russians, having survived the bestiality of his captors. He went on to serve in Korea, and be awarded the Silver Star Medal with three oak-leaf clusters and the Purple Heart.
The Colonel's remarkable address was received with a standing ovation from all in the Missouri, and the 2,000 or so guests on the pier. It went on and on, and deservedly so.
2. James L. Starnes. Lieutenant Commander, USNR ( R'td )
Post war James took a law degree at Atlanta, and entered the real estate and banking segment of business.
The Arizona Memorial just ahead of Missouri
3. Murray Yudelowitz. 8th. Division, Gunner's Mate. USS Missouri ( 1944-1946 )
Murray was aboard the Mighty Mo for her NY christening, and she traversed the Panama Canal which is 110 feet wide, and Missouri comes in with a beam of 108 feet. After squeezing through the various locks and finally making it into the Pacific Ocean, Murray reported that the order came over the ship's broadcast system, " All hands man your paint brushes."
He concluded his remarks by facing forward towards the Arizona Memorial, and saluting all those lost during the attack on Pearl Harbor, particularly those 1,000 sailors still entombed in the USS Arizona, but a few ship lengths away from all of us in Missouri today.
He did indeed mirror all of our thoughts as we sat alongside the No 2 Gun Turret in this historic Battleship.
My own remembrances.
It was hard to believe, as the finale to so long a war, in the end came very quickly. Two Atom bombs were dropped on the Japan mainland, and suddenly finito!
Key Note Speaker.
Admiral Gary Roughead USN.
Commander, US Pacific Fleet.
Admiral Gary Roughead USN
God Bless the U.S.A.
Moment of Silence followed by a Rifle Volley Salute.
Rifle Volley Salute
Echo Taps and Missing man formation flyover.
The 4 jets in formation
The paraded colors were retired.
Captain Gene Theriot USN gives the Benediction.
The vertical climb to remember the Missing Man
General Douglas MacArthur's Closing Remarks.
It was quite eerie to hear Douglas MacArthur's voice boom out again over the decks of this mighty ship, so steeped in both Naval and World History. A most apt way to acknowledge the formal conclusion to this very impressive ceremony.
Armed Forces Medley.
I had been fortunate to be in Tokyo Bay on that magical day, and again to be invited to remember today. The memory of today I will carry with me always.
Our transport returns.
Old Glory close up at the Yard arm