Wednesday, September 1, 2010

VJ Day Plus 65

I attended a lunch time lecture at the WW II Museum today about the surrender ceremony on the USS Missouri and I learned the following facts and trivia:

The USS Missouri was chosen out of respect for President Truman as Missouri was his home state and his daughter christened the ship.

The ceremony was decreed by MacArthur to start promptly at 9:00 AM, Sept. 2. The uniform of the day was khakis and not dress whites. (MacArthur said we fought them in khakis, they could surrender to us in khakis) There was a little confusion over proper protocol for having two 5 stars (MacArthur and Nimitz) on board at the same time. It was decided that their flags would fly at equal heights and be broken out as each one boarded the Missouri.

The ceremony lasted less than 30 minutes.

Everything about the ceremony was designed to intimidate the Japanese. For example, the OD wore a side arm. He chose 8 side boys that were all over 6 feet tall.

The flag on the bulkhead behind the group was the same flag that flew on Commodore Matthew Perry's ship in 1854 when he sailed into Tokyo Bay and "opened" Japan to foreign trade. (The other flags flown that day were brand new and had probably just been picked up in Guam by attendees in transit. Nope, not flown on the Arizona on Pearl Harbor Day.)

The pens used by Foreign Minister Shigemitsu and Chief of Staff Gen Umezu were given to Jonathan Wainwright and Arthur Percival who had surrendered the Philippines and Singapore, respectively, and had just been released from POW camp.

One pen went to MacArthur's wife.

The parchment the agreement was printed on came from Manila.

The first table that was set up to hold the book of surrender documents was too small. At the last minute, they had to bring a table down from the galley and throw a table cloth over it. The table cloth had coffee stains on it but were hidden when the documents were placed on the table.

The ship's antiaircraft guns were loaded and ready for action. There was still a level of distrust about the Japanese.

After the ceremony there was a 450 plan flyover.

The Missouri's crew made up cards that were given as "certificates of attendance" to the ceremony. They were only given to those on board at the time.

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