You may well be planning to visit Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial on your Hawaii vacation, but be careful not to limit your experience to the Arizona alone. Pearl Harbor memorializes both the beginning and the end of World War II. The USS Arizona is justifiably the centerpiece of the harbor’s historic place on the itineraries of island visitors because of its emotional impact. The USS Missouri, however, has a richer and more varied history.
“Mighty Mo” was launched on January 29, 1944, and went on to participate in critical operations during the final months of World War II, including the Allied invasion of Iwo Jima and Okinawa and the Allied advance on the Japanese home islands.
After the formal signing on its deck of the “Instrument of Surrender” on September 2, 1945 in Tokyo Bay ended the war, the battleship was not retired. She participated in training cruises for naval midshipman and was involved with other peacetime operations.
When North Korean forces suddenly invaded South Korea in 1950, the Missouri provided ongoing gunfire support for U.N. forces ashore and went on to serve two rigorous combat tours between 1950 and 1953. When that service ended, she was decommissioned on February 26, 1955, and entered the Pacific Reserve Fleet at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, where she would remain for the next 30 years.
Then, in 1984, with tensions rising in the Middle East, Mighty Mo was called back to duty, modernized and re-commissioned, and sent on an historic world cruise, reflecting the one taken by President Teddy Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet of 1904. A year later, she participated in an Allied escort of oil tankers through the dangerous waters of the North Arabian Sea.
Then, in early 1991, Battleship Missouri was firing Tomahawk missiles against Iraqi forces as Operation Desert Storm commenced.
Finally, she returned to Pearl Harbor in 1991 to join in the historic commemoration marking the 50th anniversary of attack on the Hawaiian Islands.
Finally, in 1992, the “Mighty Mo” was once again decommissioned — the very last American battleship to be decommissioned. In 1998 she remains a memorial, “standing watch over the hallowed waters of Pearl Harbor,” and touring her decks is fascinating.
So, while the USS Arizona remains the first lady of Pearl Harbor, make a day of your Pearl Harbor visit and include Mighty Mo as well. To include a practical and fulfilling tour during your island vacation (Yes, there’s even more to see in the immediate area!), pick an agent from our Web site home page (hawaii-aloha.com), or call 1-800-843-8771