Never before seen Kamikaze artifacts unveiled at Battleship Missouri exhibit

Published: Apr. 12, 2015 at 2:25 AM HST|Updated: Apr. 13, 2015 at 1:03 AM HST
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Courtesy: Battleship Missouri Memorial
Courtesy: Battleship Missouri Memorial
Courtesy: Battleship Missouri Memorial
Courtesy: Battleship Missouri Memorial
Courtesy: Battleship Missouri Memorial
Courtesy: Battleship Missouri Memorial

PEARL HARBOR (HawaiiNewsNow) - 70 years ago, the USS Missouri was attacked by a Japanese kamikaze pilot during the Battle of Okinawa.

Now, after seven decades, America's last commissioned battleship unveiled its newest exhibit which features artifacts from that attack other World War II kamikaze flights. These artifact have never been seen before outside of Japan.

The USS Missouri has since been renamed the Battleship Missouri Memorial which is berthed in Pearl Harbor.

Since opening in 1999, the memorial has attracted more than 6 million visitors from around the world.

In the coming years, those who board the ship will now be able to view the new exhibit on the deck below where an actual kamikaze attack struck.

The newest attraction gives viewers a glimpse into the last days in the lives pilots on suicide missions.

Artifacts such as farewell letters, poems, uniforms, personal photographs and much more will be on display.

At the exhibition opening, President and CEO of the Battleship Missouri Memorial, Michael Carr, spoke about the positives that materialized from a time of darkness.

"What emerged from that attack 70 years ago was a sincere gesture of humanity by the Missouri's captain and crew whose spirit continues to resonate today. The Battleship Missouri Memorial is honored to offer for the first time ever in the United States a rare collection of artifacts gathered from some of the kamikaze pilots of World War II."

Carr was referring to how the crew of the USS Missouri gave a formal and proper burial at sea to the pilot who lost his life in an attempt to take the lives of those on board.

On April 11, 1945 a pilot crashed his Japanese Zero fighter plane into the starboard side of the USS Missouri. None of the crew members on board were injured but the body of what is believed to be 19-year-old Setsuo Ishino was found among the wreckage; he is said to have died on impact.

In an act of respect and honor the USS Missouri crew hand-stitched a Japanese flag together and wrapped up Ishino's body; a small ceremony was held including a traditional three-volley rifle salute.

Now on the same site where Japan formally surrendered to the Allied Forces and thus ended World War II, a memorial commemorating the lost lives of Japanese soldiers now stands.

The unveiling ceremony of the kamikaze exhibition welcomed Kampei Shimoide, the Mayor of Minamikyushu, the town from which many kamikaze pilots took off.

Shimoide spoke about mindset of both countries 70 years ago and is happy that over time a new bond has formed.

"In the last months of the war - a war which started with an attack by Japan upon this very spot in 1941 - our town saw off many, many kamikaze missions. It is regrettable that we cannot undo a past in which our two countries were once at war. But now, 70 years later, through this historic exhibit at the Battleship Missouri Memorial, we are provided with an opportunity to stand together steadfastly and look back upon that past in a spirit of reconciliation and mutual understanding" Shimoide said.

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