The USS Missouri was the last, and most famous, battleship commissioned by the United States Navy. Launched on January 29, 1944, the “Mighty Mo” would see action in three wars—World War II, and the Korean and Gulf Wars.
2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the Japanese surrender aboard the Missouri in Tokyo Bay on September 2nd. It will also mark the 75th anniversary of the first time the ship was hit by a kamikaze.
“The attack did not get much media attention when it happened near Okinawa on April 11, 1945.” says Museum Curator Meghan Rathbun, “But the story of the attack and its aftermath is remarkable in many ways.”
The Missouri was struck on the ship’s starboard side and parts of the plane’s wreckage and the pilot’s body landed on board. Miraculously, there were no American casualties. “To the surprise of the crew, Captain William Callaghan ordered the body be taken to the sick bay and prepared for a military funeral the following day,” says Rathbun. “Despite whatever misgivings the crew may have held they followed Callaghan’s order, and the following day, the pilot received a military burial at sea.”
President Obama recalled the incident in a speech he made when laying a wreath with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the USS Arizona Memorial in late 2016. “It (the incident) insists that we strive to be what our Japanese friends call ‘otagai no tame ni’ — ‘With and for each other,’” Obama said.
[A version of this article appears in print in the pages of This Week Oahu]