75 years ago, ’Mighty Mo’ played a starring role in the end of WWII

Updated: Sep. 1, 2020 at 2:13 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Anchored off Ford Island, the USS Missouri is one of the most storied ships in America’s military history.

On her decks 75 years ago Wednesday, while the 45,000-ton battleship was in Tokyo Bay, Japan formally surrendered to bring the bloodiest conflict in human history to a close.

Dignitaries, veterans who witnessed the surrender and others will gather at the Battleship Missouri Memorial at Pearl Harbor on Wednesday to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II.

The somber ceremony is an opportunity to remember the sacrifice of so many during World War II. It is also a chance to recall the incredible life — and retirement — of the Missouri.

The battleship was built during the height of World War II at a Navy yard in New York.

“The ship was a late entry into the war. She was the last battleship ever commissioned by the United States,” said Battleship Missouri Memorial President and CEO Mike Carr.

[How to watch the 75th WWII Commemoration Ceremony on Wednesday]

Launched in January 1944, the Missouri could carry more than 1,900 sailors and Marines and was heavily armed. “This was the state-of-the-art battleship,” Carr said.

Under the command of Capt. William Callaghan, the “Mighty Mo” fought at Iwo Jima.

In the battle of Okinawa it was attacked by enemy planes flying suicide missions.

One slammed into the ship, and the crew planned to toss the pilot’s body overboard. But the captain stopped them, Carr said. “He said, ’No, we’re going to give this young man a proper burial.’”

In July 1945, the Missouri assisted in the bombardment of Japan. Then in September of that year it sailed into Tokyo Bay to host Japan’s historic surrender with Gen. Douglas MacArthur presiding over the proceedings. “World War II ended in a ceremony that took a total of 20 minutes,” Carr said.

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