Battleship Missouri Opens New Exhibit of Kamikaze Artifacts Never Before Shown Outside Japan
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BATTLESHIP MISSOURI MEMORIAL OPENS NEW EXHIBIT OF KAMIKAZE ARTIFACTS NEVER BEFORE SHOWN OUTSIDE JAPAN
Rare Collection of Artifacts from Japan’s Chiran Peace Museum Includes Farewell Letters from Kamikaze Pilots to Family and Loved Ones
Pearl Harbor, HI – (April 11, 2015) – Today, 70 years to the day after the USS Missouri was attacked by a Japanese kamikaze pilot during the Battle of Okinawa, America’s last battleship opened a new onboard exhibit of kamikaze artifacts that have never been displayed outside Japan.
The retired USS Missouri, now known as the Battleship Missouri Memorial and berthed in Pearl Harbor, was the site of Japan’s formal surrender to the Allied Forces on September 2, 1945 to end World War II.
The new exhibit, located one deck below and a few steps from where the kamikaze pilot struck the USS Missouri, offers a rare glimpse into the lives and final days of these young kamikaze pilots or Japanese tokko tai (special attack forces). Exhibit artifacts include farewell letters and poems (translated in English) from the pilots to family members and loved ones, personal photographs and information, historical images, and uniform items. The exhibit will be on display through November 11, Veterans Day.
Michael Carr, president and CEO of the Battleship Missouri Memorial, noted the significance of today’s 70th anniversary and the opening of the new exhibit. “What emerged from that attack 70 years ago was a sincere gesture of humanity by the Missouri’s captain and crew whose spirit continues to resonate today. The Battleship Missouri Memorial is honored to offer for the first time ever in the United States a rare collection of artifacts gathered from some of the kamikaze pilots of World War II.”
The kamikaze artifacts are provided courtesy of Minamikyushu, Kagoshima, Japan, the city where many pilots departed for their final mission and is home to the Chiran Peace Museum, where the artifacts are housed. This is the first time the artifacts have been exhibited outside of Japan.
Preceding the exhibit unveiling was a ceremony featuring remarks from guest speakers, including Minamikyushu Mayor Kampei Shimoide, the telling of the story about the kamikaze attack against the USS Missouri, and a reading of a farewell letter written by a kamikaze pilot.
Mayor Shimoide praised the Battleship Missouri Memorial for “this opportunity to exhibit artifacts from our city’s collection of kamikaze pilot letters and personal effects in this historic and symbolic place.”
Mayor Shimoide added, “In the last months of the war – a war which started with an attack by Japan upon this very spot in 1941 – our town saw off many, many kamikaze missions. It is regrettable that we cannot undo a past in which our two countries were once at war. But now, 70 years later, through this historic exhibit at the Battleship Missouri Memorial, we are provided with an opportunity to stand together steadfastly and look back upon that past in a spirit of reconciliation and mutual understanding.”
USS Missouri Displays Humanity After Kamikaze Attack – April 11, 1945 The Battleship Missouri Memorial as the host site for this exhibit is especially appropriate considering the history and humanity of 70 years ago that connects Japan’s kamikaze with the USS Missouri.
On the afternoon of April 11, 1945, with tensions at their highest in the Pacific theatre of World War II, a kamikaze pilot crashed a Japanese Zero fighter plane into the starboard side of the USS Missouri during the Battle of Okinawa.
Fortunately, the Missouri sustained only minor damage and none of its crewmembers suffered serious injuries. However, the pilot – believed to be 19-year-old Setsuo Ishino – was killed instantly, his body found among the wreckage on the deck.
The USS Missouri’s commanding officer, Captain William M. Callaghan, issued an order that the pilot be given a military burial at sea the following morning. A Japanese flag, hastily-sewn and pieced together by Missouri crewmembers, was draped over the pilot’s body and as he was laid to rest, the Marine guard fired a traditional three-volley rifle salute, a bugler played “Taps” and the ship’s chaplain, Roland Faulk, concluded the brief ceremony with the words, “Commend his body to the deep.”
Battleship Missouri Memorial Since opening in January 1999, the Battleship Missouri Memorial has attracted more than 6-million visitors from around the world with a fascinating tour experience showcasing the USS Missouri’s unique place in history. Located a mere ship’s length from the USS Arizona Memorial, the Mighty Mo completes a historical visitor experience that begins with the “day of infamy” and sinking of the USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and ends with Japan’s formal surrender aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945.
The USS Missouri had an astounding career over five decades and three wars – World War II, the Korean War, and Desert Storm – after which it was decommissioned and donated to the USS Missouri Memorial Association, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The Association operates the Battleship Missouri Memorial as a historic attraction and oversees her care and preservation with the support of visitors, memberships, grants, and donations.
The Battleship Missouri Memorial is open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. General admission, which includes choice of an optional tour, is $25 per adult and $13 per child (4-12). Military, kamaaina (local resident) and school group pricing is available. For information or reservations, call (toll-free) 1-877-644-4896 or visit USSMissouri.org.
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