Monday, August 9, 1999

Mighty Mo anchors
$500,000 donation

Anheuser-Busch's gift will
speed renovation of the Missouri's
mess decks and other areas

By Mary Adamski


A $500,000 gift from a Missouri company will open interior spaces within the Battleship Missouri Memorial to public view by early next year.

The contribution from the Anheuser-Busch Foundation, the largest donation to date for restoration of the historic battleship, was to be announced today by the USS Missouri Memorial Association.

The gift follows a tour of the ship, now a museum at anchor in Pearl Harbor, earlier this year by August A. Busch III, chairman of the board and president of Anheuser-Busch Cos. The foundation presented a $250,000 check last week and pledged to match it in 2000.

Memorial association Chairman Ed Carter said the unexpected windfall will allow the organization to accelerate refurbishing of the galley, mess decks, crew berthing, ship's store and crew's library.

Food service will be available to the public in a Big Mo Snack Shop in the ship, according to the announcement today.

Lee Collins, director of education and tours, said when Busch visited in April, "we showed him some things we wanted to do with the mess decks. One of the biggest hurdles is installing safety measures such as a sprinkler system."

It isn't the first time the St. Louis company, best known for brewing Budweiser beer, has weighed in with help for the USS Missouri. Collins said that when the ship was recommissioned in 1986, Anheuser-Busch helped fund the traditional ceremonies, and again in 1992, helped fund the deactivation ceremony.

The public will get to visit the galley where the ship's crew memorialized the USS Missouri's greatest fan. The ship's crew named the cafeteria walkway the "Truman Line" in honor of President Harry S. Truman.

"The men loved him," said Collins. "There is a sign hanging there since 1947 when Truman and his daughter Margaret rode aboard the ship from Rio de Janeiro where he signed a cooperative security agreement (with South American countries).

"Truman liked to stand in line with the crew and eat with them," said Collins, recounting a tale told by guides on the ship. They also tell how Truman, then a U.S. senator from Missouri, arranged for the ship's 1944 christening to be done by Margaret. After the war President Truman refused to decommission it along with thousands of other Navy vessels, ignoring the advice of the secretary of defense, the secretary of the Navy and the chief of naval operations.

"She was the only battleship in service when the Korean War broke out," said Collins.

The 887-foot ship was the scene of the Japanese surrender ending World War II. Now a museum supported by public donations and volunteer refurbishing work, it was opened for public tours on Jan. 29.

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