RedState's Water Cooler - 6/11/17 - Open Thread - "Mighty Mo"


The third ship to carry the name of its state, the USS Missouri was commissioned on this date in 1944.

This week, the RedState Department of History takes a look at one of the most iconic ships of its generation, which served as the host for the Japanese surrender which officially ended the Second World War, less than year after her commissioning.

Ordered in 1940, the Missouri enjoyed a service career that lasted until 1995 – with a 29-year hiatus in the middle.

During World War Two, the ship participated in the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa and shelled the Japanese home islands before hosting the ceremony in Tokyo Bay which ended the war.

She served in Korea and was then mothballed in 1955 for 29 years — being brought out of retirement in 1984 as part of the 600-Ship Navy plan.

It was in this capacity that the grand old lady returned to active service in 1991, providing fire support during Operation Desert Storm before being deactivated in 1992. Her name remained on the Naval Vessel Register until 1995, when it was finally stricken.

“Mighty Mo” remains on display at Pearl Harbor, bringing America’s involvement in World War II full circle in the location where it all began. The oil slick from the USS Arizona, still present nearly 76 years after the day on which she sank, runs past the Missouri memorial.

But there was a bit of controversy surrounding the surrender ceremony itself, which some claim was originally scheduled to be held aboard the USS South Dakota. That ship had served since 1942, and speaking in 1995, one of its sailors, Don Ross, was still angry the ceremony wasn’t held aboard his ship.

“How well I remember. `Now hear this! Now hear this! Get the ship ready! The peace treaty will be signed on the South Dakota!”’ he recalls hearing around Aug. 21, 1945. “We started to spit and polish. We painted everything, cleaned up everything on the deck,” said Ross, who now lives in Newington in a home filled with Navy memorabilia. “We even cut out an 18- inch-by-18-inch hole in the deck, where we were going to place the bronze plaque.” Then, around Aug. 28, another order came over the loudspeaker: The South Dakota had been passed over. The ceremony would be on the Missouri, named for President Truman’s home state and christened by his daughter, Margaret. “We were so angry,” Ross said. “Some of the men — not me — said `Aim the 16-inch guns at the USS Missouri!’ ” Some of the sailors even threw empty bottles over the side at the other ship, anchored nearby in Tokyo Bay. “We didn’t have anything against the men on the USS Missouri,” Ross insists. “It was against the bad judgment [of] and bad decision made by President Harry S. Truman.” Ross pronounces the name Truman with fury. 

Whether or not Ross’ claim is true (Missouri was the flagship of the Third Fleet and as such, was a logical choice to host the ceremony), one thing can’t be denied: Missouri was the last battleship commissioned by the United States Navy and her place in world history is assured.

Also today:

June 11, 1862 – CSS Virginia, also known in the North as the Merrimack, was scuttled off Craney Island. Union troops had recently occupied Norfolk, denying Virginia her main base. Since she drew too much water to be moved up the James River, she was destroyed on the orders of Flag Officer Josiah Tattnall.

June 11, 1967 – Israel and Syria accepted a UN cease-fire arrangement to end the Six-Day War. Despite being attacked by Egypt, Syria and Jordan and being outnumbered 2-1 in combat troops, Israel captured East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula, tripling the land area under Israel’s control. It also almost entirely destroyed the Egyptian Air Force and inflicted a KIA ratio on its Arab opponents of approximately 23-1.

Enjoy today’s open thread!


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