Fw: [Inside the Capitol] 9-2 Battleship New Mexico Invited to Japanese Surrender
By JAY MILLER
SANTA FE -- On September 2, 1945, Japan made formal the surrender it had declared on August 15. The ceremony occurred aboard the USS Missouri, in Tokyo Bay.
The Japanese delegation, unable to find any vessel seaworthy enough to take them into the bay, boarded an American destroyer to take them on the 16-mile journey.
An impressive 258 Allied warships filled the bay, making it one of the most formidable displays of naval power ever assembled in one anchorage. Many more could have joined them, but it was an invitation-only event for warships that had distinguished themselves in Pacific battles.
The Battleship New Mexico was there, honored for her service in the Gilberts, Marshalls, Solomons, Marianas, Philippines and Okinawa. In her last two battles, she suffered three kamikaze hits, killing a total of 83, including the commanding officer, and injuring 206.
Also present was Gen. Jonathon Wainwright, the beloved commanding officer who remained in the Philippines after MacArthur left.
Wainwright, who had endured all the prison camp atrocities experienced by his troops and looking like a skeleton, was quickly rescued from a prison camp in China and brought to the ceremony.
He took a place of honor, near MacArthur and reportedly received the first ceremonial pen when MacArthur signed the surrender document as the Supreme Commander of Allied Powers in Japan.
The Navy was not impressed that MacArthur became supreme commander or that he would conduct the surrender ceremonies. MacArthur's promotion made it appear that the Army had won the war in the Pacific and not the Navy.
Obviously, it took both But neither wanted to admit it because the two services were completely separate entities. Had Japan not created the same problems for itself, our divided command would have caused us even more problems.
And the only reason the Air Force wasn't part of the argument was that it wasn't created until 1947.
The solution to the Navy's displeasure was to have MacArthur conduct the ceremony aboard a Navy ship. And to get President Harry Truman's cooperation in the deal, the vessel chosen for the surrender ceremony was the Battleship Missouri.
Instead of being conducted on the broad fantail of the Missouri, the signing took place on a narrow quarterdeck, around a worn table from the ship's galley, covered by a coffee-stained green tablecloth. The ceremony was short, which pleased both MacArthur and the Japanese.
Another indication of evident downplaying of the ceremony was that the American officers wore khaki uniforms, the British wore shorts. Our other allies wore dress uniforms. The Japanese wore top hats and tails. That's an interesting progression from those who had the most to do with winning the war to those who lost.
Although the ceremony was simple and understated, it was followed by a massive show of strength, as 1,900 Allied aircraft came roaring overhead.
Following the August 15 surrender declaration by Emperor Hirohito, it took two weeks before the first American soldiers landed in Japan. Air drops to prison camps had been occurring and agents from the Office of Strategic Services had parachuted into prison camps to keep order until troops arrived.
One of the first tasks of the soldiers who landed was to get to the airfields to remove propellers from Japanese aircraft. There still was unrest among many of the military and a fear that mutinous kamikaze pilots might make a last-minute bid for immortality during the surrender ceremonies.
The first stage of the occupation was to provide for the care of Allies who had been held captive. It was accomplished as quickly as possible because our troops were clamoring to get out and families back home wanted to know of their loved ones.
The Battleship Missouri can be visited in Honolulu by going to Pearl Harbor and taking a shuttle. Tours are conducted of various parts of the ship. Or one may go directly to view the surrender location and listen to a recording of MacArthur's words.
JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail) firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted By Jay Miller to Inside the Capitol at 8/29/2011 10:57:00 AM