‘Mighty Mo’ veteran visits former ship

"Sky" Fredrikson was aboard the USS Missouri when a kamikaze suicide bomber hit on April 11, 1945 during the Battle of Okinawa. Photo courtesy of Battleship Missouri Memorial

“Sky” Fredrikson was aboard the USS Missouri when a kamikaze suicide bomber hit on April 11, 1945 during the Battle of Okinawa. Photo courtesy of Battleship Missouri Memorial

Brandon Bosworth

Staff Writer

Since opening as a museum in the summer of 1999, more than 5 million people have visited the Battleship Missouri Memorial.

This month, the memorial welcomed a visitor for whom the ship isn’t just a tourist attraction. It is his former home.

Schuyler “Sky” Fredrikson served on the USS Missouri from 1944 to 1946. A third Class petty officer, Fredrikson was assigned to the engineering department and damage control for most of his time aboard the ship. He visited the memorial this year on Jan. 10. It was his third time aboard the vessel since its decommissioning.

“I toured her back in 1998 when she was in Oregon getting ready to get towed to Hawaii,” he said. “And I was here in 2001 for the 60th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.”

Fredrikson was born Feb. 11, 1927 in Brooklyn, N.Y. He was raised on a farm in Holden, Mass. and joined the Navy on Feb. 11, 1944 at the age of 17. He was aboard Missouri for most of his active duty service.

“I was a lookout when I first came aboard,” he said. “There were about six lookouts, aft and forward. Then I moved to damage control and diving.”

His time on Missouri took Fredrikson to some of the far corners of the globe. He visited places such as Panama, Trinidad, San Francisco, New York City, Italy, Greece and Turkey.

USS Missouri veteran Schuyler "Sky" Fredrikson visited the Battleship Missouri Memorial on Jan. 10.

USS Missouri veteran Schuyler “Sky” Fredrikson visited the Battleship Missouri Memorial on Jan. 10.

Of course, with World War II raging, much of Fredrikson’s time was spent in the South Pacific: Guam, Okinawa, Iwo Jima and the coasts of Japan.

“We were heavily involved in the bombardment of Japan, especially Tokyo,” he said. “The worst was the fighting in Okinawa. The Navy lost more men then in any other Pacific campaign.”

It was during the Battle of Okinawa that a kamikaze suicide bomber hit Missouri. On April 11, 1945, Japanese “Zeke” approached the ship through a hail of anti-aircraft gunfire, striking the battleship on the stern quarter.

“I saw the plane coming and ran like hell to the other side of the ship,” said Fredrikson.

No American lives were lost, and Missouri suffered only minor damage. The deceased kamikaze pilot was given a military burial-at-sea, led by a U.S. Navy chaplain who happened to speak Japanese.

At war’s end, on Sept. 2, 1945, Missouri sailed into Tokyo Harbor for the signing of Japan’s surrender.

“There were so many people, so many dignitaries from all different countries aboard,” he recalled. “I had a good view of everything.”

Fredrikson and his friends celebrated the end of the war with some homemade cocktails.

“We got some 180 proof alcohol from the sickbay and mixed it with grapefruit juice,” he said.

After the end of the war, Missouri returned to Pearl Harbor and Fredrikson took some time to enjoy some well-deserved R&R at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. He left the Navy in May 1946.

Fredrikson currently lives in Worcester, Mass. He has fond memories of his time in the Navy and is impressed by what has been done with the battleship he served aboard.

“They have done a great job restoring her,” he said of the Battleship Missouri Memorial.

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Category: News