This is the USS Missouri (BB-63), better known as “Mighty Mo”.
From a historical perspective, the USS Missouri is arguably one of the most famous ships the world has ever seen. Let’s begin with an over-view of some of her many feats.
The photo above is of the USS Oklahoma. During the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Oklahoma was sunk by several bombs and torpedoes. A total of 429 crew died when the ship capsized. Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Navy began building the USS Missouri to battle Japan in the Pacific. She was commissioned for service in 1944 and is the last of the iconic Iowa-class battleships ever built.
In the Pacific Theater, BB-63 fought in the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
The Iowa-class battleships were literally “armed to the teeth”. They had 9 big guns, named the “Mark 7”, which were 16 inches in diameter and fired 2,700 pound shells that could travel a distance of 20 miles.
In addition they carried 20 “Mark 12” guns that could hit a target 10 miles away.
For anti-aircraft protection, they had two types of guns. There were 49 of the smaller 20 millimeter “Oerlikon” guns and 80 larger 40mm “Borfors” guns.
From WW2, “Mighty Mo” went on to serve in the Korean War from 1950 to 1953.
In 1984, she was modernized to carrier Tomahawk cruise missiles along with up-dated air defense systems.
Forty-seven years after her commissioning, in 1991 the USS Missouri was modernized and sent to battle Iraq in “Operation Desert Storm”.
The ol’ beast fired multiple Tomahawk cruise missiles at Iraqi targets.
Her final resting place came in 1998, where the Missouri has been honored as a museum ship at Foxtrot 5 Pier on Ford Island in Pearl Harbor.
These achievements over such a long period of time are amazing but it is one other event in which history will forever remember this ship.
On this ship the Empire of Japan officially surrendered, bringing a final closure to World War 2.
However the real story involves none of these achievements. In fact, this is not a story about a weapon. This is an inspirational story about the human side of War.
One of the scariest tactics of WW2 came from the Kamikaze. Takijiro Onishi was an admiral in the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War 2. He set up the first Special Attack Unit, Kamikaze unit, near Manila (the capital city of the Philippine Islands) as the certainty of a U.S. invasion became unavoidable. In his own words, “I don’t think there would be any other certain way to carry out the operation (to hold the Philippines), than to put a 250 kg bomb on a Zero and let it crash into a U.S. carrier, in order to disable her for a week.”
In total 2,800 Kamikaze attack planes were sent on their one-way missions.
They damaged 368 ships.
34 other ships were completely sunk.
MG machine gun from a crashed Kamikaze gets lodged in the barrel of Naval Borfors gun.
The attacks accounted for over 4,800 wounded sailors and 4,900 deaths.
This was the terrifying reality of war in the Pacific.
Here is where the story begins. Below are images of the USS Missouri battling in coming Japanese Kamikaze “Zeroes”.
On April 11th of 1945 while fighting off in-coming Kamikazes during the battle for Okinawa, a sailor nicknamed “Buster” Campbell was hanging out with the ship’s photographer and caught the following unforgettable photo just before a Zero hit the side of the ship.
The remains of the pilot were found among the wreckage. To which the Missouri’s Captain, William Callaghan (pictured on the left), ordered the burial of the unknown Japanese pilot the following day.
At 9am the following morning of April 12th, 1945 in waters northeast of Okinawa, as the last major battle of World War 2 raged at both sea and ashore, the body of a Japanese pilot is readied for burial at sea. The pilot’s body was placed in a canvas shroud and draped with a Japanese flag sewn by the Missouri crew. Sailors then stood by as the flag-draped body was brought on deck from sickbay and carried by a 6-man burial detail toward the rail near to the point of impact. Those present come to attention and offered a hand-salute as the Marine rifle detail aimed their weapons skyward to render a three-volley salute over the remains. Then a member of the ship’s bandsmen stepped forward with his bugle and played “Taps”. Finally the Senior Chaplain, Commander Roland Faulk, concluded the ceremony by saying the following, “we commit his body to the deep”.
The burial detail then lifted the flag-draped fallen pilot over the side and into his final resting place of the Pacific Ocean.
To this day, the bent side-railing was never replaced in memory of the Kamikaze attack.
The lodged Kamikaze gun was from the USS Missouri crash.
These are the remains kept of the Japanese pilot. The gold button is believed to have come from the uniform of the pilot.
In 1945, the official Allied reporting name for the Mitsubishi A6M Zero was “Zeke” which later became commonly known as the “Zero”.
The Kamikaze pilot had a family and a name. This was Setsuo Ishino.
On November 26th of 1944, after the Essex-class aircraft carrier USS Intrepid (CV-11) was struck by 2 Kamikazes which killed 6 Officers and 59 of it’s crew.
Photoed above are Kamikaze pilots in May of 1945. They never returned, just months before the war ended. Below is an old man named Hishashi Tezuka. He was a kamikaze pilot that would survive because the war ended.
War is hell. Thank you to our greatest generation. Thank you to those out there serving today.
August 15th, this Saturday, marks one of the most important dates in America’s History.
The 75th Anniversary of VJ Day…let’s begin where it all Ended.
75 years later…the end of World War II.
I’ve collected 7 powerful stories from the Pacific Battles of WW2.
Problem is, I’d like to round them down to about 3 posts
(don’t want to have Chivers get bored by too many galleries on the same topic).
Basically, I’d like to cover:
-Boots on the Ground (USMC)
“YES” this one is a re-post.
Sorry, I’ve spent 4-hours trying to figure-out how to round the content down…and well, I have to actually “get some posts out”.
THAT being said,
Hope you get a chance to give the 3 up-coming WWII stories a read.
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