'Thank you for taking care of my boat': After 7 decades, a vet and the 'Mighty Mo' reunite

World War II vet reunites with USS Battleship Missouri
Published: Mar. 14, 2018 at 11:21 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 14, 2018 at 11:54 PM HST
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( Image: Hawaii News Now )
( Image: Hawaii News Now )
( Image: Robert Hall )
( Image: Robert Hall )

FORD ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - It took decades to do but Robert Hall finally had his homecoming.

The retired Navy pilot traveled from Florida to Ford Island Wednesday for a long-awaited reunion with a battleship. He hadn't seen the USS Battleship Missouri since he was stationed on it during World War II.

"For an old, old man, I thank you all for taking such good care of my boat," he said.

Hall was in his early 20s when he spent about two years on the Missouri.

He was there when a Japanese fighter plane crashed into the ship, killing the pilot, who was then buried at sea.

Many of his shipmates have passed away. The pilgrimage was for them, too.

"All the people at that time, aviators like me, were ship's company. That's different from the way they do things now," he said.

"It's a fantastic thing for him to come back," said his daughter, Lynne Reynolds. "It's brought up a lot of memories for him which he's been able to relay to us. A lot of things were left unsaid for many years."

The USS Battleship Missouri Memorial Association rolled out the red carpet. A high school band from Arizona honored him with a short concert. One of the band members is his great-granddaughter.

"I was kinda peeking at him while I was playing," Macey Hall said. "He looked at me and blew a kiss to me. I wanted to walk over to him and hug him."

Hall admits at 94 he's forgotten more than he remembers. But he'll never forget seeing Japan's surrender in 1945, which ended World War II.

"If you can find Sky Forward, that's where I was," he said. "I had my spotting binoculars and I could see them write their names."

Hall's military service didn't end after World War II. He fought through the conflict in Korea and the Vietnam War.

He served aboard other ships during his 27 years in the Navy. He retired as a lieutenant commander. The USS Missouri was by far his favorite home away from home.

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