I’ve always loved history. Now that I live in Hawaii, I love learning about all of the historical events that happened here. If you want to learn a little bit more about military history, especially World War II history, I highly recommend visiting the USS Missouri Memorial.
History of the Mighty Mo
History comes alive on the Mighty Mo as you stand next to the massive guns and look at where the sailors who served slept and ate. You can even stand in the exact spot where World War II ended.
The USS Battleship Missouri (also known as the Mighty Mo) was the last American battleship ever built. She served in three wars and is most famous for being the place where World War II officially ended.
On September 2, 1945, representatives of the Allied and Axis powers met on the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. Representatives of the Empire of Japan signed the Instrument of Surrender. General MacArthur signed on behalf of all the Allied powers, as well as other representatives of Allied nations that were present.
Afterward, General MacArthur said: “Let us pray that peace be now restored to the world, and that God will preserve it always. These proceedings are closed!” World War II was over.
The Mighty Mo was a key part of World War II. Then, she went on to serve in the Korean War and Operation Desert Storm.
December 7, 1991, was the 50th anniversary of the attack on the Hawaiian Islands. On that day, the USS Missouri was moored next to the USS Arizona Memorial. Together, the Missouri and Arizona connect the event that launched America into World War II to the formal ending of the war.
The USS Missouri was retired on March 31, 1992, and now is a place where we can remember, understand, and honor the ship’s history and the service of all of the men who served on board.
On April 11, 1945, a kamikaze pilot crashed into the USS Missouri during the Battle of Okinawa. The ship was not damaged badly and no one on the crew died. However, the pilot, 19-year-old Setsuo Ishino, died.
Captain William M. Callaghan, The USS Missouri’s commanding officer, decided that the pilot should be given a proper military burial at sea. Crewmembers sewed a Japanese flag and draped it over the pilot’s body and as he was laid to rest. They paused briefly to pay respect to their enemy. You can see where this deeply important moment took place when you visit the USS Missouri Memorial.
Visiting the USS Battleship Missouri Memorial
The Battleship Missouri Memorial offers two different tours. Although both of these tours are fascinating, you don’t have to participate in one to enjoy the ship. You are also able to explore on your own. After doing both tours and wandering around on my own, I recommend the main tour, the 35-minute Guided Tour, to everyone.
This tour is included in the price of a General Admission ticket. It runs continuously throughout the day. Tour guides will take you to the spot where World War II ended, talk about life on board, and tell you all about the ship’s rich history.
Or, if you are the type of person who likes to see how things work – and if you have a bit more time to spare – you should consider the second tour. “The Heart of the Missouri” is a more in-depth tour where you learn about how the ship works and take a look inside the engine rooms.
Tips for Visiting
How to get tickets
The Battleship Missouri Memorial ticket booth is located across from the entry into the “Valor in the Pacific,” where the USS Arizona Memorial is. General admission is $27 for adults and $13 for children 4-12.
Because the USS Missouri is located on an active military base, you must take the free bus from the Pearl Harbor Visitors Center to Ford Island. The buses come every about 15 minutes and are air conditioned.
As you board the ship, the first thing that you will do is have your picture taken. It’s one of the best pictures of my entire family together. We couldn’t resist buying a copy, which I have framed in my house. So, don’t forget to look for your picture before you leave.
Don’t forget to look for the USS Arizona Memorial from the top of the USS Missouri. It’s a beautiful, sobering sight to see both of these memorials together.
Because it gets hot on board the Mighty Mo, you are encouraged to bring a resealable water bottle or other resealable drink with you. You are allowed to drink while on board. However, you cannot eat on the ship.
Because you will be walking on and off a ship and around uneven floors, it’s best to wear closed toed shoes and to pay attention to your surroundings. If you go on a tour, your tour guide will talk to you about safety on board.
Visitors are not allowed to bring bags of any size. So, don’t bring any backpacks, diaper bags, fanny packs, camera bags, purses, luggage, shopping bags, large cameras or other items that can offer concealment.
Food is available
There are a number of food and snacks available to purchase. “Battleshop” offers snacks, cold drinks, and locally made ice cream and sorbet. Slider’s Grill offers burgers, hot dogs, and drinks. I like to eat here because you get incredible views while you are eating. Finally, Wai Momi Shaved Ice offers shaved ice along with other food and snacks.
Oahu Vacation Packages
Hawaii has a rich history, and military buffs will find no shortage of things to do here. If you are interested in learning more, consider booking a Jeep Tour with us. These tours include a visit to the USS Missouri Memorial as well as other historic sights. Let us take care of the driving and planning and enjoy the insider knowledge of our local tour guides. Click here for more information.
Also, if you book an All Inclusive Oahu Vacation Package through us, you can also customize it to include the Stars and Stripes Tour Option. On this tour, you can see many different historic sights in one day with a knowledgable local guide. This tour includes a visit to the USS Arizona Memorial Museum and a tour of the USS Missouri battleship. It also includes a no-host lunch. After lunch, a volunteer veteran will take you on a tour of the restricted location of the Punchbowl National Cemetery.
So, give us a call today to book these tours and start planning your Hawaiian vacation.