Keeping “Mighty Mo” Afloat

HONOLULU, Jan. 20, 1999 — In its heyday, the U.S.S. Missouri was at the heart of some of the most heated battles the United States fought in Pacific waters during World War II and, later, the Korean War.

First decommissioned in 1955, the 887-foot long battleship known as “Mighty Mo” had been the center of attention in Bremerton, Wash., where, as a member of the Navy’s Pacific Reserve Fleet she was a popular tourist destination for hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

Now, with the help of a $158,000 software grant from Microsoft, the Iowa-class battleship has been re-commissioned as the Battleship Missouri Memorial, a museum/memorial site in its new home in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Microsoft’s grant will provide Internet access, interactive kiosks and tools for academic reference and electronic commerce to the memorial, which opens this month.

In making the donation to the U.S.S. Missouri Memorial Association, which is sponsoring the project, Microsoft president Bill Gates said, “It gives Microsoft tremendous satisfaction to join in this historic project and supply the communication tools needed to help create greater public access to the Battleship Missouri Memorial. We’re proud to be helping the memorial reach out to the public at large to help educate people about the U.S.S. Missouri.”

“Basically, Microsoft is providing the memorial with the backbone of our information and communication network,” said Don Hess, the association’s vice president of operations. “This information infrastructure is essential to every facet of the memorial.”

“It is a real privilege and honor for Microsoft to be able to participate in bringing the USS Missouri home to a very sacred and important resting ground,” said Microsoft Regional Vice President Dianne Gregg. “Pearl Harbor hosts hundreds of thousands of visitors every year, who all come in pursuit of remembering and honoring a very critical moment in our nation’s history that should never be forgotten.”

Launched from the New York Naval Shipyard in January 1944, “Mighty Mo” was sponsored by Miss Margaret Truman, daughter of then-Senator from Missouri Harry S Truman, who later became president. The battleship was put to sea Jan. 27, 1944, to serve in the Lexington carrier task group. On Feb. 16, she launched the first air strikes against Japan since the famed Doolittle raid in April 1942. She then steamed to Iwo Jima, where her big guns provided direct and continuous support to the invasion landings that began Feb. 19.

At the end of the war, the ship was the site of Japan’s formal surrender. The ceremony in Tokyo Bay was attended by high-ranking military officials, including Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz and Allied Commander and General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, who led the 23-minute surrender ceremony, which was broadcast worldwide.

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