Battleship Missouri Memorial commemorates 72 years of peace in the Pacific

Members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart pose for a photograph aboard the Battleship Missouri Memorial, Sept. 2. Photo by MC3 Justin R. Pacheco

Battleship Missouri Memorial Association

“Today the guns are silent. A great tragedy has ended. A great victory has been won,” were Gen. Douglas MacArthur ‘s words from Sept. 2, 1945, which rang out again across the decks of the USS Missouri on Sept. 2, 72 years later.

Hundreds gathered to commemorate the 72nd anniversary of the end of World War II last weekend aboard the decks of the Battleship Missouri Memorial, berthed in the waters of Pearl Harbor, bow-to-bow with the sunken USS Arizona.

The ceremony honored the heroism, valor and sacrifices of the Greatest Generation, who upheld American freedom in the bloodiest war in modern history. It all culminated aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay 72 years ago, where MacArthur, Adm. Chester Nimitz and leaders of the Allied Forces accepted Japan’s formal surrender and brought an end to the global conflict.

Marines lined the decks of the Mighty Mo at this year’s commemoration, with the event paying special homage to the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Guadalcanal — a Marine Corps-led offensive in the Pacific Theater against Japan’s military forces. The firefight to secure this strategic locale in the Solomon Islands lasted six months and set the tone for the series of Allied victories that laid the foundation for peace in the Pacific and the eventual surrender aboard the Mighty Mo, America’s last battleship.

Rear Adm. Brian Fort, commander, Navy Region Hawaii and commander, Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, delivers remarks at the Battleship Missouri Memorial, Sept. 2.

Rear Adm. Brian Fort, commander of Navy Region Hawaii, spoke about the mission critical actions of the U.S. Navy ships, which supported the Marine forces in the Battle of Guadalcanal, praising in particular the leadership of Fleet Adm. William “Bull” Halsey. Bold and brash, Halsey had championed support for the U.S. Marines throughout the campaign, despite challenges of low supplies and faltering morale resulting from naval conflicts leading up to Guadalcanal.

“In 1942, he was the right leader at the right place at the right time. This mighty warship, the USS Missouri, served as Bull Halsey’s flagship at the end of World War II. He stood with Admiral Nimitz and General MacArthur for the signing of the surrender,” Fort said. “Admiral Halsey’s life shows us how one person can make a difference. One person can inspire.”

Lt. Gen. David H. Berger, commander of the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific, delivered the keynote address, honoring the valor of his brothers in arms, the sacrifices made by their families and the road to peaceful relations. Berger made a visit to Guadalcanal earlier this summer and walked many of the grounds where the six-month battle took place.

“They were fighting to secure a better world for themselves, their families, and for generations to follow. They stood tall. They held the line. They helped set the course for peace that endures today,” Berger said. “In 1945 Japan was our enemy. Today, 72 years later, Japan is our staunchest ally.”

“It is important for all generations to remember the USS Missouri’s role in America’s journey to peace, serving as a symbol not only for strength, but also compassion and reconciliation,” said Michael Carr, president and CEO of the USS Missouri Memorial Association.

A month distinguished guests was Art Albert, an original USS Missouri crewmember and World War II veteran, who witnessed the surrender ceremony on-board the Mighty Mo 72 years ago today. The solemn commemoration concluded with a rifle salute while the Pacific Fleet Band played Echo Taps to honor all fallen Armed Forces members who rest in peace in the former battlefields around the world.

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