Passport to the World over 64 years. Pages from my Travel Diary Visit to Honolulu to attend the 60th. Anniversary of the signing of the Japanese Surrender on the 2nd of September 2005.

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As a 23 year old Lieutenant in the Royal Austalian Navy, Sunday, the 2nd. of September in 1945 found me serving in the cruiser HMAS Shropshire, as part of a US Navy Task Force in Tokyo Bay. I was thus present in that area when General Douglas Mac Arthur, orchestrated the Japanese Surrender on board the flagship of the US Third Fleet, USS Missouri that morning.

The ship is now secured alongside a pier on Ford Island at the US Navy base of Pearl Harbor, and was handed over to the USS Missouri Memorial Association by the US Secretary for the Navy in 1998.

My wife Denise, and I, were invited by that Memorial Association to be on board the Mighty Mo for the historic 60th. Anniversary of that memorable day in 1945 when WW2 finally officially came to an end.

16 inch guns of Missouri

16 inch guns of Missouri

We set off on our way on the 31st. of August 2005.
We departed from Melbourne early on the morning of Wednesday the 31st. of August 2005 to drive up to Sydney, and stay the night at the Holiday Inn, Sydney Airport Hotel. An uneventful journey found us checking in about 5 PM, the hotel was going to garage our car undercover for the 8 days we were away as part of our package.

The 1st. of September 2005.
The hotel staff were very accommodating in allowing us to stay in our room until about 4.30 PM and we took their shuttle bus to the Sydney International Airport to check in at Qantas at 5.30 PM for an 8.30 PM take off, we were able to book our usual aisle seat and the next one, in the centre four seat configeration in the first section of economy. They are close to both the toilets and the exit on arrival, and meals come reasonably quickly when served. These seats allow us to get out when we need to, without having to crawl over others, or in turn have them crawl over us to get out for the loo or other reasons. If you take 2 of the 3 seats either side of the four central seats, you always have those problems.

After boarding, we were pleased to find an empty seat next to Denise, and the 10 hour flight passed as slowly as they do. When the Captain announces, "Sit back and enjoy your Flight." Can he really be serious?

Some of the crowd on the pier laeving after the ceremony

Arrival at Honolulu Airport.
Several planes obviously arrived about 11 AM all at the same time, queueing at Immigration were literally hundreds of people, many from Japan. As each arrival needed to have both index fingers fingerprinted, and then have a photograph taken, it took an eternity. We must have waited some 2 hours to make to an interview desk, then to the luggage area, bags of every shape and colour just strewn all around the delivery carousal.

Utter chaos, we have never seen such a mess, with people desperately picking over the piles and piles of luggage, many of the cases looking alike. At last we tracked down our two simple cases, and went off to pass customs, no trouble there, and then wait for a taxi. Finally we were on our way out of the wretched airport to the Outrigger Luana, a 14 storey condominium complex, set in front of a park with the ocean in the near distance.

The Military Liaison Officer working with the Missouri Memorial association had organised this suite for our first three days here. It was thankfully ready, and consisted of a fitted kitchen, with the biggest refrigerator we had ever seen, it dominated the area, sitting there like an Everest, overlooking the scene. A large electric stove, double sink with a sinkerator, and dish washer. All the necessary china, glasses and cutlery for 6 included.

Then came the lounge room with a great TV, and rather heavy Hawaiian type furniture, and a small terrace overlooking the park with the ocean nearby. This area was served by a rather ancient and noisy, on the floor air conditioner, that was in dire need of replacement, we found it better to switch it off, and rely on a similar one in the bedroom that was much less noisy to run.

A second TV in the bedroom, then a large bathroom with a shower over the bath, and a walk in wardrobe, which included a safe that could be set to our combination. All in all, very suitable at a reasonable cost for Hawaii, Mildred Courtney the Military Liaison lady had done well by us, thank you.

Thursday the 2nd. of September 2005.
The ceremony on board Missouri was scheduled to start at 8. 45 AM , and we needed to be out at Pearl Harbor to register by 7.45 AM, and it could take an hour for the journey given the early morning traffic rush. We had ordered transport for 6.45 AM, and we left on time, it took our lady driver a good deal of time to negotiate the crush of cars etc as she weaved her way down crowded side streets onto the freeway. There the traffic was horrendous, she had notice by phone there was a serious car accident well ahead of us, and an ambulance some how managed to move through this mass of vehicles, as cars did stop and move as much as possible to let it through.

But, time was ticking by, and our progress was meagre, our driver was well aware of our deadline, and with great skill moved right and across about four lanes of traffic, we thought her negotiation of these lanes quite brilliant, and she saved some 15 minutes. At last we passed the blockage, and got moving, I had been sent a VIP Car Pass to allow us over the bridge to Ford Island, anyone wanting to visit Missouri, had to pay the fee of $16 by the Submarine Bowfin, then take the Association trolley across the bridge to Ford Island, and down to the pier where the battleship is moored. This takes about 7 minutes.

I also had a personally named WWII Veteran Pass worn on a Red, White and Blue USS Missouri Pearl Harbor lanyard, it worked miracles at all check points, we were saluted and waved through. We were close to the ship, and on alighting from our transport ( it was returning to pick us up at 10.45 AM ) Denise said "My Husband has a bad knee!" up sailed a small conveyance driven by a US sailor, to pick us up, and drive to the check in table.

My WW11 Veteran's Pass which worked like Magic

My WW11 Veteran's Pass which worked like Magic

A quick look at my Pass, a look at a typed list, and we were registered, no fuss, all like clockwork, and a US Army Airforce guide, dressed smartly in his blue uniform was allocated to get us to the Missouri gangway nearby. Here we were handed over to a US Marine in dress uniform, with polished shoes so bright they dazzled. Our Marine handed us both a bottle of water, branded as USS Missouri, American Hero water, to me a Navy blue cap, on its front in gold lettering read: WE REMEMBER 60th Anniversary Sept 2nd 1945-2005.

At the back, also in gold lettering: Battleship Missouri Memorial Pearl Harbor Hawaii. We were each given a small pack of Missouri souvenirs, and a copy of the Official Programme, headed The End of World War 11.

Our Marine conducted us on board, up the starboard side, behind No 2 triple 16 inch gun turret to our seats on the port side abreast the No 2 turret, and facing aft. On our left, the flags of the US allies flew, mounted on short poles with the Australian flag first, and the Japanese flag also was displayed, last in this row of about six flags.

A huge wreath stood below this row of flags, soon to be guarded by a Marine on each side, standing rigidly at attention.

Ceremony begins.
At 8.45 AM the ceremony was started by the Master of Ceremonies, the President and Chief Operating Officer of the USS Missouri Memorial Association, Captain Donald R. Hess. USN R'td making some opening remarks and introducing his Chairman, Vice Admiral Robert K. U. Kihune USN R'td, who welcomed all guests, and read the message from United States Senator Daniel K. Inouye who apologied for his absence on account of his wife's illness.

Parade the Colors.
The Colors were paraded, led by a special OLD GLORY, which had flown at Ground Zero in New York, and around the world where US forces have been in action including Iraq and in Afganistan.

Parade the Colors

The Star Spangled Banner.
Was performed by the Jefferson Elementary School Choir, accompanied by the Joint Military Ceremonial Band, and the Sounds of Aloha Chorus, in a very moving rendition.

Post the Colors.
The Colors were posted in front of the Allied flags.

Read by Captain Gene P. Theriot, CHC, USN.

Message from the Governor, State of Hawaii.
The Honorable Linda Lingle spoke with emotion and feeling, setting the tone for the forth coming speeches.

Wreath Presentation in Honor of WW11 Veterans.
This lovely and large wreath was taken from its place of honor and cast over the ship's side." GOD BLESS AMERICA." The Sounds of Aloha Chorus excelled themselves with their interpretation of "God Bless America" to the extend that both Denise and I were very moved by this performance.

Guest Speakers.

1. Colonel Ben N. Scardon, US Army ( R'td ) WW2 Prisoner of War of the Japanese.
The Colonel, now delivered a most moving address, as a young Lieutenant he was captured by the Japanese in the Philippines, took part in the infamous Bataan Death March, and was part of a 1,600 contingent consigned to the Japanese mainland to be transported in a Japanese merchant ship, to be sunk en route, a second ship suffered the same fate. Ben joined a third ship to arrive in Yokahama, but once more to be sunk, this time by US aircraft, now only 400 from the original 1,600 POW's had survived.

He was transferred to Manchuria, and was near death on occasion, and was really saved by the dedication of two mates from Clemson University, who kept him alive in the freezing conditions by the the heat of their own bodies on top of Ben who outlived them both. As a last resort in fighting for life with his will to live, he exchanged his Clemson University ring secretly for a bit of food including a chicken.

Ben was finally released by the Russians, having survived the bestiality of his captors. He went on to serve in Korea, and be awarded the Silver Star Medal with three oak-leaf clusters and the Purple Heart.

The Colonel's remarkable address was received with a standing ovation from all in the Missouri, and the 2,000 or so guests on the pier. It went on and on, and deservedly so.

2. James L. Starnes. Lieutenant Commander, USNR ( R'td )
Now 88 years of age, James was the Navigating Officer in Missouri when she steamed into Tokyo Bay as the flagship of Admiral Bull Halsey in command of the Third Fleet. Organisationally, the Navigator served as the Officer of the Deck for special occasions such as the Surrender of the Japanese Nation, to be conducted by General Douglas MacArthur on the deck of Missouri on the 2nd. of September 1945.

Post war James took a law degree at Atlanta, and entered the real estate and banking segment of business.

The Arizona Memorial just ahead of Missouri

The Arizona Memorial just ahead of Missouri

3. Murray Yudelowitz. 8th. Division, Gunner's Mate. USS Missouri ( 1944-1946 )
Murray a resident of the Bronx in New York, with his broad accent, was resplendent in his Navy white " Cracker Jack " uniform. He was quite a character, and had been a taxi driver in New York, prior to enlistment in the USN, with this background, he found himself designated as the Captain's driver at the time of the Japanese Surrender.

Murray was aboard the Mighty Mo for her NY christening, and she traversed the Panama Canal which is 110 feet wide, and Missouri comes in with a beam of 108 feet. After squeezing through the various locks and finally making it into the Pacific Ocean, Murray reported that the order came over the ship's broadcast system, " All hands man your paint brushes."

He concluded his remarks by facing forward towards the Arizona Memorial, and saluting all those lost during the attack on Pearl Harbor, particularly those 1,000 sailors still entombed in the USS Arizona, but a few ship lengths away from all of us in Missouri today.

He did indeed mirror all of our thoughts as we sat alongside the No 2 Gun Turret in this historic Battleship.

Murray Yudelowitz

Murray Yudelowitz

My own remembrances.
Throughout today's moving ceremony I found my thoughts drifting back 60 years ago, when I too was present in Tokyo Bay, after 6 years of war at sea, I came to the realisation that at last " IT WAS ALL OVER, I HAD SURVIVED," the sheer and utter joy of knowing that I would soon return home to Australia finally got through to me.

It was hard to believe, as the finale to so long a war, in the end came very quickly. Two Atom bombs were dropped on the Japan mainland, and suddenly finito!

Key Note Speaker.

Admiral Gary Roughead USN. Commander, US Pacific Fleet.
The current Commander of the US Pacific Fleet, with the lovely name of Roughead, gave the key note address, he has an enormous command , probably the largest in the world geographically.

Admiral Gary Roughead USN

Admiral Gary Roughead USN

God Bless the U.S.A.
A wonderful performance by the Sounds of Aloha Chorus, the American people certainly take this song to heart, one could hear a pin drop, not a cough, not a rustle of feet, just rapt silence, whilst the assembled audience allowed this rendition to wash over them all.

Moment of Silence followed by a Rifle Volley Salute.
We all stood quietly for our moment of silence, I particularly remembered my 84 shipmates lost from HMAS Canberra at the Battle of Savo Island on the 9th. of August 1942. A coloured Marine Sergeant carrying a sword, marched his gun bearing troop of 6 Marines onto No. 2 turret, they faced outboard to port and fired 3 volleys in salute.

Rifle Volley Salute

Rifle Volley Salute

Echo Taps and Missing man formation flyover.
A lone Sailor bugler played Taps from alongside No. 1 turret, with the echo reaching out from the starboard side of the ship, very, very effective. At the same time a formation of 4 jets screamed by our port side, the last airman taking his plane into a vertical climb signifing the Missing Man.

Missing man formation

The 4 jets in formation

The paraded colors were retired.
The Colors were retired and the flag bearers marched off.

Captain Gene Theriot USN gives the Benediction.
The Chaplain gave the Benediction to the assembly.

# The vertical climb to remember the Missing Man

The vertical climb to remember the Missing Man

General Douglas MacArthur's Closing Remarks.
The General's closing remarks at the Surrender Ceremony in Tokyo Bay on the morning of Sunday the 2nd. of September of 1945 were recorded. Now for this 60th. Anniversary they were broadcast again, it was I believe a stroke of genius on a planner's part to reiterate his 1945 words.

It was quite eerie to hear Douglas MacArthur's voice boom out again over the decks of this mighty ship, so steeped in both Naval and World History. A most apt way to acknowledge the formal conclusion to this very impressive ceremony.

Armed Forces Medley.
The Sounds of Aloha Chorus gave us their Medley with feeling, as we sat back to enjoy: The Marine Hymn, Anchors Aweigh, and Up Up and Away.

Closing Remarks.
Don Hess thanked all our speakers and attendees, and invited guests to partake of refreshments set out under an awning on the Fantail ( our Quarterdeck )

For both Denise and myself, a really wonderful experience, to have been a part of this pomp and ceremony to mark the 60th. Anniversary of the end of the devasting WW11, which had finally been won, and acknowledged by the Japanese Nation by humbly signing the Instrument of Surrender on the Surrender Deck of this great Battleship, USS Missouri, back on the 2nd. of September 1945.

I had been fortunate to be in Tokyo Bay on that magical day, and again to be invited to remember today. The memory of today I will carry with me always.

Our transport returns.
The lady driving our transport was not happy when she collected us, as we had not been with her to usher the car through the checkpoints, she had been searched and even her car engine was subjected to a search. We went back to our hotel well satisfied with our special morning.

Old Glory close up at the Yard arm

Old Glory close up at the Yard arm

See the program and more pictures


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