World War II

USS Missouri Enters the War

Construction on the battleship Missouri began on 6 January 1941 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. She was launched on 29 January 1944 and officially commissioned on 11 June 1944. From there, she went on her Shakedown Cruise where the battleship and her crew tested their limits. USS Missouri would leave for the Pacific Theater from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii in early January 1945. On 16 February, she provided anti-aircraft defense for carriers conducting strikes against Tokyo. On 19 February, she supported the invasion of Iwo Jima. On 25 February, she participated in air strikes against Tokyo and on 1 March, against Okinawa. For much of March, she would provide anti-aircraft support, firing on Japanese aircraft that threatened the aircraft carriers around her (then Task Group 58.4). On 24 March, she joined USS New Jersey and USS Wisconsin for the shore bombardment of Okinawa. She would bombard Okinawa’s shores for the invasion beginning on 1 April. 

Kamikaze Attacks

On 11 April at 2:43 PM, a kamikaze aircraft glazed Missouri on her starboard side a little below the level of the main deck. In the crash, part of the plane was thrown onto the main deck with the rest of the wreckage falling into the water. One of the aircraft’s machine gun was found impaled on a 40mm gun. The pilot’s body was found on the main deck and given a military burial the next day at the orders of Captain William M. Callaghan. Chaplain Roland Faulk conducted the funeral, committing the pilot’s body to the deep. 

16 April would bring more kamikaze attacks. One kamikaze aircraft crashed in the battleship’s wake as it flew toward the battleship’s stern, littering the fantail with metal and injuring two sailors: Seaman Alfonse J. Palermo and Seaman D. J. Guiliano. 

From March to May, the crew of USS Missouri fired upon 16 enemy aircraft, claiming for themselves 5 kills (with 1 probable kill) and 6 assists. On 18 May, the battleship became a flagship for Third Fleet and Admiral “Bull” Halsey. 

The End of the War

In July, the battleship joined Task Force 34 and aircraft carriers for more strikes against mainland Japan, bombarding the steel works at Muroran and Hokkaido and other industrial targets at Honshu. 

In August, the war was drawing to a close. Task Force 38, with Flagship Missouri at its heart, fended off a final assault of kamikaze aircraft on 9 August. On 15 August, Halsey received word of Japan’s surrender. By 23 August, USS Missouri was confirmed as the surrender ship.