The Mighty Mo got a hero's welcome today when it completed its journey from Bremerton, Wash., to its permanent resting place in Pearl Harbor.
Thousands of people lined the shoreline to get a glimpse of the famous battleship.
After hours of waiting in the sun, they weren't disappointed when the USS Missouri entered the Ford Island channel about 9 a.m., towed by the Sea Victory and escorted by three Navy tugboats.
About 40 volunteer line handlers in blue coveralls manned the ship's rails.
"Beautiful," "awesome," "wow," said thrilled onlookers.
Christine and Mike Flynn of Troy, N.Y., highlighted their honeymoon with a view of the Missouri. "I know it all doesn't fit in the camera," Mike said, noting that the Missouri is the length of three football fields.
Among the spectators was Capt. George Covington, commanding officer of the Pearl Harbor Naval Station.
The USS Missouri Memorial Association is leasing Pier F-5, one of the piers Covington oversees, for about three years, he said. It will be moved farther up the channel after that.
Pier F-5 is just off the USS Arizona Memorial on the site where the USS Maryland sat during the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor.
Covington anticipates the Missouri will be used for reenlistments and other ceremonies. "It's a good picture-taking background," he said.
Watching the ship enter the harbor, Emily Jamora of Honolulu said, "I'm sad and happy at the same time."
Sad because the ship has completed its service to the country but happy because it will have needed repairs and people will be able to visit it as a museum, she said.
"I'm proud to be a part of this moment in history," Walter Abe of Pearl City said, as he and his wife, Jean, watched the ship approach.
Jean Abe recalled she had tea on the Missouri in 1991, when it was docked here for the 50th anniversary commemoration of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. She was on the staff of former Hawaii Chief Justice Herman Lum, who, with other members of the state Judiciary, were invited to have tea with the captain.
Nobuo Takemori, 78, of Wahiawa, who served with the 442nd Regiment in World War II, picked a spot on the seaplane runway to take photos. Takemori was 21 when he saw planes "flying over and diving down" on Dec. 7, 1941.
"That was a long time ago, but it was like yesterday," he said.
Kauai contractor Dick Godbehere, a retired Navy man, said he saw the Missouri in Japan during the Korean War and again when it passed the Kona Coast in 1991.
Godbehere came to Oahu yesterday to spend Father's Day with his son, Brent. They came last night to Ford Island to find the best spot for viewing the Mighty Mo.
"This close, it will be like the World Trade Center coming by," Brent Godbehere said.
Florendo Trinidad, 68, was with his grandson, Shaun, 8, to teach him about American history. He has 11 grandchildren and "I am proud I can teach them from my mouth" instead of having them rely on history books.
Navy Public Affairs Officer Rod Gibbons has a picture of himself when he was a fifth-grader touring the Missouri's surrender deck. His son David, 9, is "excited about seeing this," Gibbons said. "It really makes a powerful statement about World War II, and the beginning and the end of the war."
Gerald Lee drove over the bridge to Ford Island with son T.J., 17, to see the battleship, arriving early to beat the expected crowd.
"I'm kind of a rah-rah patriot," Lee said. "I get all pumped up and excited to think the public and Hawaii can get into the Missouri's arrival."
Bob and Judy Williams of Monterey, Calif., here vacationing, said they were on the Missouri in 1990 when it was in Monterey Harbor.
"It is really something, a whole city afloat," Bob Williams said.
Catch USS Missouri online at:
Visitors awestruck asBy Craig Gima
Mo docks by Arizona
and Stan Constantino
Visitors coming off the USS Arizona Memorial today were at a loss for words after seeing the USS Missouri dock next to the sunken battleship.
"I can't even find the words, the feeling of reverence," said John Turner of Everett, Wash.
"It was almost spiritual because we were there at the beginning and the end of the war," said Kaye Evans, of Raleigh, N.C.
Al Souza, a shipyard worker when the Missouri first came to Pearl Harbor in 1944, was at the Arizona visitors center to see the ship pull in.
"Seeing her again takes me back to the time when we were on it," Souza said. "All the ships in the harbor were getting ready for another invasion. It's a thrill to see her again."
Nagoya resident Tamura Tokunaga and her sister, also visiting the Arizona Memorial today, said Japanese people don't know much about World War II unless they were in it.
"This is a very good chance to know," she said as she watched the Missouri dock.
For Pearl Harbor survivor Charles Basso, 82, seeing the Missouri made him wish he could join the Navy again. "The Navy is in my veins. I love the ocean."
Basso was on Ford Island when the Japanese attacked on Dec. 7, 1941. "I remember all the battleships burning," he said. "I was over there pulling people out."
Al Chamizo, 72, was living in Kapahulu when the war began. "I remember it like it was last Sunday," he said.
Chamizo said seeing the Missouri today was something he just had to do.
"It's like you're seeing the end of the war when you see the Missouri," he said. "It's an eerie feeling. It chokes you up. I don't know why."
"From what we're seeing from the visitors, everyone's really excited about the Missouri coming into Pearl Harbor," said Kathy Billings, superintendent for the Arizona Memorial. "I think the excitement of the Hawaii people is spilling over to the tourists (arriving in Hawaii)."
According to Billings, memorial staffers have been working closely with the USS Missouri Association. A display of the Missouri was put up at the memorial, and people are very interested in learning about it, she said.
Over the weekend, Richard "Dick" Fiske shared his white scrapbook filled with World War II news clips, pictures and awards with Arizona Memorial visitors.
A Pearl Harbor survivor, Fiske has done this throughout his 15 years as a volunteer aboard the solemn memorial. Now, with the addition of the Missouri to Pearl Harbor, he believes the battleship will only help give visitors a complete picture of the war.
"In one respect, it'll be like bookends ... the starting and the ending," said Fiske, 76, a Marine Corps veteran. "I think that's going to enhance, a little bit, the Arizona."
The Missouri's arrival shouldn't hurt attendance at the Arizona Memorial, some believe.
"They are two totally different things," Ken Hockycko, a midshipman for the U.S. Naval Academy, said. "The (Arizona) is more of a memorial, more solemn. As for the Missouri, it represents injury and overcoming."
Towing the Mo isBy Gregg K. Kakesako
a special kick for
Since 1970, Capt. Kaare Ogaard has escorted vessels into Hawaii ports.
Last year, he even towed barges that held sections of Ford Island's concrete floating bridge to Pearl Harbor. That job involved three trips from Seattle, each taking 11 days.
But this weekend, Ogaard, 56, completed his most highly publicized job when the tug Sea Victory brought the USS Missouri -- America's largest and last battleship -- into its final resting place in Pearl Harbor.
"It is probably the biggest in the sense of publicity," he acknowledged.
"I'm thankful that I got to do it."
"As a Navy veteran, it's a special kick for me to do it," said Ogaard, who spent four years in diesel submarines.
Ogaard has worked on tugs since 1970 and has made 24 trips from the West Coast to the islands. Most of the trips have been from the Columbia River or Seattle.
Since May 23, when Ogaard left the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Wash., the Missouri has been on a 4,415-foot chain-and-wire towline which weighs about 40 tons. The Missouri weighs about 45,000 tons.
After passing Diamond Head at noon yesterday, Ogaard reconfigured the towline, removing about half of it as he approached Kewalo Basin.
Today, Ogaard shortened it even more on a continuous basis as the Missouri and tug moved through the Pearl Harbor channel to the Foxtrot 5 pier, about 300 feet from the USS Arizona Memorial. At that time the distance between the two vessels was to be about 200 feet.
"The idea was to approach the dock nice and slowly," Ogaard said.
The towing of the Missouri into the Pearl Harbor channel was to begin at 8:30 a.m., passing Hospital Point, where the skipper of the battleship Nevada purposely beached that vessel on Dec. 7, 1941, to prevent it from being sunk in a narrow channel by Japanese dive bombers.
By 9:30 a.m., USS Missouri Memorial Association officials hoped to have the first lines from the vessel to the pier. But it was to take another three hours before the Missouri would be securely tied to its new home.
Ogaard described the 29-day, 2,715-mile voyage -- which included a week's layover in Astoria, Ore. -- as an "average tow in time and distance," with no unanticipated troubles for his crew of seven.
"She was ready to tow," Ogaard said.
"All the plans were made to make a good tow, and there were absolutely no problems. It's been a completely satisfactory and professional operation from top to bottom."
For most Japanese tourists, the day the USS Missouri arrived was just another day in paradise.
Many Japanese don't
remember Mo's WWII role
At a travel bureau office in Waikiki, a young couple on vacation were too busy trying to plan a day of ocean activities to pay much attention to the ship offshore.
The agent on duty said many younger tourists don't remember the war and aren't really interested.
Only one couple asked the agent where they could see the ship.
But for 61-year-old Kentaro Hayashi and his wife Hideko, the sight of the Missouri brought back memories of the end of World War II.
As a child in 1945, Hayashi recalled via an interpreter, he remembered escaping through tunnels and seeing bombs dropped from American airplanes.
Hayashi was planning to go to Pearl Harbor today, and said that when the Missouri goes on display, he would go and see it.
Masahiro Shimomura and his wife, Misako, who were born long after the war, said they had no emotions about the Missouri.
"The generations have changed," said a tour agent.
"The older people know about the war. The younger generation, I guess not."
Bush, Inouye will make callsFormer President George Bush, honorary chair of the USS Missouri Memorial Association, was to call with congratulatory remarks this afternoon, as the Mighty Mo was tied up at Ford Island.
Bush was instrumental in bringing the USS Missouri to Hawaii in 1991, the last time the battleship visited the islands, for the 50th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
During this afternoon's ceremonies, another long-distance call was to come from U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye whose influence was crucial in getting the Mighty Mo permanently berthed in Pearl Harbor.
5,000 have stood on Mo's fantailRetired Vice Adm. Robert Kihune notes that the fantail of the battleship Missouri is so huge that it once was able to accommodate more than 5,000 people.
Kihune, now vice chairman of the USS Missouri Memorial Association, said this occurred when he was the head of the U.S. Naval Surface Forces in the Pacific Fleet and commanded 60,000 sailors.
"The Missouri was my flagship then," Kihune said yesterday, "and we had 5,000 people on the fantail during a ceremony."
He noted that when the Missouri was first commissioned, its crew totaled 2,500.
When it was commissioned the second time in 1986, only 1,800 sailors were detailed to the ship.
Star-Bulletin writers Gregg K. Kakesako, Susan Kreifels and Craig Gima contributed to this report.
Missouri caused heavy traffic for landlubbersThe USS Missouri under tow at sea may have moved faster than some cars on land yesterday as the ship made its way past Diamond Head to Magic Island.
Vehicle traffic was heavy in the morning at the Diamond Head lookout and Kapiolani Park, as well as at the entrance to Ala Moana Beach Park.
But though it was slow going, cars were moving and police reported no major problems during the day.
Honolulu Police Lt. Kevin Lima said the crowd was about half of what the park gets on the Fourth of July."It was overcast all day," he said. "That scares people off."
The crowd was well-behaved, Lima said, with the biggest problem being more cars than parking spaces.
Parking was available for those willing to walk to Magic Island from the Victoria Ward Centre and Hawai'i Convention Center parking lots. Many parked at Ala Moana Shopping Center.
At sea, the Coast Guard estimated there were about 300 boats following the USS Missouri off the beach at Waikiki. It responded to some minor incidents of boats overturning and some in need of a tow, but no serious problems were reported.
Missouri group to hold ceremonyAt 9:02 a.m. on Sept. 2, 1998, the words of Gen. Douglas MacArthur will again resound through the 0-2 deck of the battleship Missouri as members of the USS Missouri Memorial Association help re-enact the events that occurred 53 years ago when the Japanese formally surrendered, ending the war in the Pacific.
More than 400 veterans belonging to the USS Missouri Association will be in Hawaii then to hold their annual convention and will be the first group allowed to use the 54-year-old battleship. U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, who lost his right arm fighting the Germans in France during World War II, will be the guest speaker.
Star-Bulletin writers Gregg K. Kakesako, Susan Kreifels
and Craig Gima contributed to this report.