A ship reborn
The battleship USS MissouriBy Gregg K. Kakesako
begins a grand day
World War II crew member Kenneth Lester marked his 50th wedding anniversary today by watching his ship -- the nation's last battleship, USS Missouri -- "brought back to life" once again.
Lester joined the nearly 2,500 people who attended the grand opening of the Mighty Mo, now berthed at Ford Island.
Lester, 72, stood on the fantail of the Missouri as it lay in anchor in Tokyo Bay on Sept. 2, 1945, when the formal peace treaty with Japan was signed.
"This is the first time I have been back on the Missouri since I left her in May 1946," Lester said.
Also watching this morning's ceremonies was Murray Yudelowitz, 78, who witnessed the christening of the Mighty Mo 55 years ago at the New York Navy Yard.
Yudelowitz, like Lester, also was on hand to witness Japan's surrender in Tokyo Bay.
"I wanted to see what will happen today with the public coming on on board," Yudelowitz said. "This is my ship."
After six months of scraping and painting, the battleship was unveiled today in a ceremony that
the nonprofit USS Missouri Memorial Association likened to the commissioning of a ship.
Scores of association employees and volunteers who spent more than 25,000 hours doing restoration work manned the rails of the battleship, which is as high as a 20-story building.
Red, white and blue bunting this morning decorated the railings of the battleship, a veteran of three wars. The 45,000-ton dreadnought was opened to the public shortly after 11 a.m., following the invitation-only ceremony.
"It's a tremendous thrill for all supporters of the Battleship Missouri Memorial to be opening this wonderful new museum and sharing the Missouri's magnificent legacy with the rest of the world," Ed Carter, chairman of the association's board of directors, said before the ceremony.
"There's no more fitting home for this national icon than in the hallowed waters of Pearl Harbor near the USS Arizona Memorial."
Retired Navy Capt. Lee Kaiss, the last skipper of the Mighty Mo, recalled that when the Missouri was deactivated in March 1992, there were a lot of misty eyes as the crew manned the rails. "She was to sleep the time-honored sleep of a retired warrior," Kaiss said. "She has always stood for freedom, an ambassador of goodwill."
In reflecting upon today's ceremony, Kaiss said, "Missouri takes her place as a living symbol of freedom, and as an ambassador who will greet all who come to visit and reflect on the lasting friendship that she has helped forge. She will always be the great lady of the sea, reminding us that freedom and friendship hands across the seas are a true treasure. And the lady that has helped bring us all this treasure is called Mighty Mo."
The Missouri was decommissioned on Feb. 26, 1955, brought back into active duty in 1986 and decommissioned for the second and final time on March 31, 1992.
Kaiss -- who retired from the Navy on the same day the Missouri was decommissioned the second time -- spoke not only of the events surrounding the Japanese surrender ceremony on the battleship's teakwood decks on Sept. 2, 1945, but also of President Harry Truman's fondness for the ship.
Besides using the Mighty Mo to project the country's military might, Truman spent so much time on the battleship that the enlisted sailor's gallery is called the "Truman Line," Kaiss said.
He recalled "the proudest moment in my life was when the cease fire was called during the Gulf War and not one person had been killed on the Missouri.
"We returned to Long Beach (Calif.) six months to the day we left for war and were met by 10,000 people, of which there were 38 babies who had never seen their dads."
Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono, in her prepared remarks, noted that it was "only fitting that it has come home to rest on Battleship Row... to stand watch for all perpetuity over its fallen sister ship, the USS Arizona.
"The two battleships symbolizing the beginning and the end of this century's greatest and most tragic war will always be linked by the events of history. Now they are forever linked both in placement and in sight to all those who come to Pearl Harbor."
Once Japan and the United States were enemies, Hirono said, but the end of the Pacific war marked the beginning of a new era. The Japan-American political and economic relationship is of primary importance.
"Once enemies, we are now friends," she added. "This is the outcome of a terrible war, giving us hope that in other conflicts around the world today, there is the possibility of peace and friendship."
After its second decommissioning, the Missouri spent six years in mothballs at the Navy's Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility in Washington state's Puget Sound. Former Navy Secretary John Dalton transferred the vessel to the nonprofit association on May 4, 1998, and it then was towed to Hawaii, arriving on June 22 of last year.
Nearly five years ago, Carter, former Pacific Forces commander Adm. Ron Hays and retired Navy veteran Harold Estes held informal talks aimed at giving the Mighty Mo a final berth at Ford Island.
Estes, a retired Navy chief boatswain's mate, "piped" aboard the Mighty Mo's crew of volunteers this morning from the deck of the ship.
More than 200 Missouri Association staff, tour guides and volunteers crossed the brow, or gangplank, offering a snappy salute after retired Navy Capt. Don Hess' order "to bring the ship to life." Hess is the battleship's vice president for operations and in charge of the renovation.
Flocks of colored pigeons were released as the battleship's dress flags were hoisted, signifying the battleship's readiness for its next assignment.
U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, who was responsible for shepherding the Missouri memorial proposal though Congress and the Pentagon, could not attend the ceremony. Inouye was supposed to be a keynote speaker today, but had to cancel because of the ongoing Senate presidential impeachment trial.
Bids for the opportunity to berth the Mighty Mo had come from three other groups, in Long Beach, San Francisco and Bremerton, Wash.
The Navy finally chose Pearl Harbor because of the concept of battleship bookends, with the Missouri docked within 300 yards of the USS Arizona Memorial.
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the beginning of the war in the Pacific is symbolized by the Arizona, while the end of the war is represented by the Missouri.
Individuals or organizations that have contributed $5,000 or more to a fund to help refurbish the USS Missouri include (by donation level):
For the Missouri
Fleet Admiral Platinum Sponsors
General Dynamics Corporation
GTE Hawaiian Tel -- Official Telecommunications Provider
Pepsi Cola Company -- Official Beverage Partner
Fleet Admiral Gold Sponsors
Atherton Family Foundation Bank of Hawaii Harold K.L. Castle Foundation Dell Computer Corporation DFS Hawaii Microsoft Corporation United Technologies Corporation
Admiral's Club -- Platinum
Architects Hawaii Ltd.
Communications Pacific Inc.
Compucom Corporation First Hawaiian Bank Hawaiian Electric Company McInerny Foundation
Admiral's Club -- Gold
Alexander & Baldwin Foundation Belt Collins Hawaii Samuel N. & Mary Castle Foundation Alexander Gaston Gannett Foundation Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc. Jay Kadowaki Inc. M & E Pacific TheoDavies Foundation Tesoro Foundation Henry A. Walker Jr.
Admiral's Club --Silver
Aloha Airlines AT&T Corporation Bay Harbor Company Inc. Frank Boas The Estate of James Campbell Edwin L. & Shirley M. Carter Castle & Cooke Inc. Central Pacific Bank Comsat Corporation Mary D. & Walter F. Frear Eleemosynary Trust Gaspro GTE Hawaiian Tel Hawaii Business Roundtable Hawaiian Dredging Construction Co. Hawaiian Tug & Barge 3M Corporation McCabe, Hamilton & Renny Co. Ltd. C. Dudley Pratt Jr. Romar Sales Corporation Tori Richard Ltd. United Airlines G.N. Wilcox Trust
Admiral's Club -- Bronze
A&E Equipment Rentals Inc. All Ship & Cargo Surveys Ltd. P. Pasha Baker Emily Overesch Castle & Cooke Foundation. Ltd. Stuart M. Cowan Crowley Marine Services Adm. Bruce DeMars, USN (Ret.) Paul R.A. Dutkiewicz James F. & Helen G. Gary Gentry Development Company Robert T. Guard In Memory of Rear Adm. Daniel L. Hanington, RCN (Ret.) Hawaiian Lodge F. & A.M. Adm. Thomas B. Hayward, USN (Ret.) Vice Adm. Robert K.U. Kihune, USN (Ret.) Rear Adm. Paul L. Lacy Jr., USN (Ret.) Adm. Henry Mauz Jr., USN (Ret.) Adm. Kinnaird McKee, USN (Ret.) Pearl Harbor Lodge F. & A.M. Dr. Elizabeth Romanik In Memory of George W. Sarbacher Jr. Servco Foundation Sprint Hawaii Thermoplastic Powder Coatings R.M. Towill Corporation USS LCI National Association Victoria Ward Ltd. Robert J. Wicks In Memory of Michael T. Cloyd A.L. Ross Associates Inc.
Nuuanu man plans aBy Rod Ohira
Manuel "Manny" Patino is a pyrotechnic master with the instincts of a showman.
The 33-year-old Nuuanu resident has produced multimillion dollar pyrotechnic extravaganzas worldwide but considers tonight's salute to the Mighty Mo extra special.
Patino, president of Hawaii-based Extravaganza Productions Inc., is donating the $75,000 show in honor of those who served on the USS Missouri.
The 15-minute pyrotechnic show from the battleship's deck, which begins at 7 p.m., will feature a 21-gun fireworks salute.
"There'll be 21 very tense explosions with a light drum roll in between to let those who served know how proud we are of them," Patino said.
"We think it's chicken-skin stuff. I feel it's a great honor just to be part of this celebration, and it's one I don't take lightly."
A pyrotechnic show is like a scene from an opera, said Patino.
"You script the fireworks on a database and ... it can be manipulated for desired performance or effect," he said.
"You get one shot. It can't be repeated. And it has to be spectacular and splendid. Proper fireworks touches the senses. If you do the job right, it should leave goose bumps."
Patino, who is working on a Feb. 17 Chinese New Year project in Hong Kong, flew in Monday to oversee the Mighty Mo production and will be flying back after the show.
As president of Pacific Rim and Middle East operations for Fireworks by Grucci, which bills itself as "the first family of fireworks," Patino also will be working in February on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's $40 million centennial celebration.
The Northern California native, who's married to the former Renette Mau, has produced pyrotechnic displays for the inaugurations of President Bill Clinton and former President George Bush, and for the return of Hong Kong to China in 1997.
His other credits include singer Michael Jackson's world tour, the Rolling Stones tour and the openings of several Las Vegas resort casinos, including the Bellagio.
Patino is also involved in two celebrations later this year in Thailand, including the king's birthday in December.
The opening of the Missouri to the public includes:
7 p.m. today: Fireworks show over Pearl Harbor. Tickets available until 5:30 at the Bowfin Museum.
Saturday: Dance and music.
Sunday: Dance and music.
The battleship USS Missouri, the USS Arizona Memorial and the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum will give visitors a fuller understanding of the sacrifices, tragedies and triumphs that took place at Pearl Harbor and in the Pacific during World War II.
Tour the battleship
and its WWII kin at
The three World War II attractions are located off Kamehameha Highway near Aloha Stadium.
In ancient Hawaii, the area was called Wai Momi or "waters of pearl" because of the beds of oysters that could be found in the bay. There also were many fishponds in the area. It was believed to be a prime location for fishing and diving because it was protected by a shark goddess.
When British Capt. James Cook came to Hawaii in 1778 a coral reef barred the entrance to the bay. The Navy's first contact with the Hawaiian Islands was in 1826 when the schooner USS Dolphin made port.
The United States obtained exclusive rights to Pearl Harbor in 1887. But it wasn't until the capture of Manila a decade later during the Spanish-American war that U.S. military leaders realized they needed a permanent Pacific way station to control the Philippines.
Dredging of the Pearl Harbor channel began in 1902, 62 years after a naval officer determined that removing the reef would give the military access to a deep-water harbor. It was not until 1908 that Congress officially designated Pearl Harbor as a naval base. The first warship to cross the channel was the armored cruiser USS California, in 1911.
On the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese Imperial Navy struck unexpectedly at 7:55 a.m. at Pearl Harbor and several other military bases on Oahu. Japanese bombers sank 21 American warships, killed 2,338 military personnel and civilians and destroyed 165 planes in a matter of hours.
On the battleship USS Arizona, which accounted for half of casualties on Dec. 7, an estimated 900 crewmen remain entombed in its sunken hulk.
All tours will begin and end shoreside, not on Ford Island, at the Missouri's ticketing booth. Access to Ford Island, where the Missouri is berthed, is restricted by the Navy. Visitors will be shuttled by open-air bus.
To see the USS Missouri
Visitors will be able to tour the 887-foot battleship from bow to stern and climb up five decks to the flying bridge.
Interest areas include the surrender deck where the Pacific War with Japan ended on Sept. 2, 1945, the Tomahawk missile-launching system, and the nine big deck guns, which last saw wartime duty during Desert Storm in 1991.
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
Admission: $10 adults, $6 children 4-12 for self-guided tours. For guided tours, $14 adults, $10 children.
The USS Arizona Memorial National Park sits on 10.5 acres and consists of a visitor center housing exhibits, a bookstore and two theaters where visitors can see a 23-minute documentary on the Pearl Harbor attack.
To see the USS Arizona
At the center's front desk visitors can obtain free tickets to the USS Arizona Memorial, final resting place for the majority of the ship's 1,177 crewmen. A Navy shuttle is used to transport visitors to the memorial near Ford Island, about three-quarters of a mile from the visitor center.
The 184-foot white memorial -- designed by architect Alfred Preis -- spans the mid-portion of the sunken battleship held up by two 250-ton steel girders and 36 concrete pilings. It was dedicated Memorial Day, May 30, 1962
Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except New Year's Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Admission: Free. Tours are first come, first served.
Opened as a visitor attraction in April 1981, the USS Bowfin was launched on Dec. 7, 1942 -- a year after the attack on Pearl Harbor -- and nicknamed the "Pearl Harbor Avenger." In nine successful World War II patrols the sub (SS-287) sank 44 enemy ships. The 311-foot, diesel-powered submarine was decommissioned twice -- first in 1947 and again in 1971 after being brought back to active duty in 1951 for the Korean War.
To see the USS Bowfin
The museum is part of the 3.5-acre visitor attraction site. A theater features submarine documentary videos. Within the park is a memorial honoring the 52 American submarines that were lost and the more than 3,500 submariners who were killed during World War II. Other outdoor exhibits include the conning tower of the USS Parche and Japanese type-4 kaiten or suicide torpedo
Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day.
Admission: $8 for adults. $6 for senior citizens, kaimaaina and military personnel, $3 for kids 4-12.
USS Missouri online: