Battleship Missouri Memorial
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
Battleship USS Missouri (BB-63) served in World War II, the Korean
War, and the Persian Gulf War. After the ship was decommissioned in March 1992,
it opened to the public in January 1999 as a museum ship next to Ford Island at
Pearl Harbor. The USS Missouri Memorial Association owns and operates the ship
as a not-for-profit organization supported by admission fees, retail sales, and
donations with no government support. Battleship Missouri Memorial is one of
the few US museum ships with a display about Japanese kamikaze pilot attacks, and
this page focuses on information available aboard ship about the Zero fighter
kamikaze aircraft that struck Missouri on April 11, 1945, during the
Battle of Okinawa.
USS Missouri became one of the world's most famous ships when Japanese
and Allied representatives attended a ceremony aboard ship in Tokyo Bay to sign
the formal document of Japanese surrender on September 2, 1945. The ship has a
plaque in its deck to commemorate the exact spot where the table stood with the
surrender document that was signed to bring World War II to a close. The
35-minute guided tour, which most visitors take, focuses on the Japanese
surrender deck, the battleship's 16-inch guns, and the area hit by the kamikaze
The following sign that explains the kamikaze attack on the battleship is on the
rail around the deck in front of the spot where the Zero fighter first struck
Missouri's rear starboard side near the aft three-gun turret of 16-inch
World War II - Kamikaze Attack
Japan's determination to halt the Allied advance during World War II is
vividly reflected in the term "Kamikaze" or "Divine Wind."
Originally used in reference to the typhoon winds that destroyed the invasion
forces of Kublai Khan, the term was resurrected in 1944 by Admiralty Masafumi
Arima who personally led the first Special Attack Force mission against the
On April 11, 1945, during the invasion of Okinawa, a flight of 16 approaching
Japanese aircraft was spotted by radar. Of those, one pilot set his sights on
the American battleship Missouri and would not be stopped.
Coming in low off the stern, hit repeatedly by anti-aircraft fire and
struggling to rise, the aircraft's left wing caught the side of the ship at the
last instant and swung the "Zeke" hard against the hull, sending a fiery wave of
debris onto the deck. The remains of the pilot were found among the wreckage.
Missouri's Captain, William Callaghan, ordered the burial of the
unknown Japanese pilot the following day. A Marine honor guard fired a salute
and his body was committed to the deep.
Between October 1944 and the end of hostilities in August 1945, some 3000
"kamikaze" sorties are estimated to have been flown.
The dents from the April 11, 1945 attack remain on the Missouri's hull
to this day (visible between frames 159 and 165).
The above explanation regarding the kamikaze aircraft that hit Missouri
mentions that 16 planes were spotted by radar. Akira Kachi performed extremely thorough research to determine
the identity of the fighter pilot who crashed into Missouri (BB-63) on
April 11, 1945. His research is summarized in the 2005 Japanese book entitled
Senkan mizūri ni
totsunyū shita reisen (Zero fighter that crashed into battleship
Missouri). This book explains that only 13 of the 16 planes in the
Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 5th Kenmu Squadron from Kanoya Air Base reached Kikaijima, directly
north of Missouri's position at the time. Radar picked up the planes
after they passed Kikaijima, so radar could not have spotted 16 aircraft as
Zero fighter about ready to hit USS Missouri
In front of the aft turret of three 16-inch guns, there are three
information display stands. The stand on the far left shows the famous photo of
a Zero fighter about ready to strike Missouri's starboard side (see photo
above). There are also a photo of crewmen standing on one of the Zero's wing on
deck after the crash and a photo taken from another ship of Missouri under
attack on April 11, 1945. The information display stand provides the following
Dents on Missouri's starboard
hull from kamikaze crash
on April 11, 1945
During the battle for Okinawa, 5000 American naval personnel are killed and
36 ships sunk, many by Tokkotai, an abbreviation for "Special Attack Unit,"
known to Americans as "Kamikaze."
On April 11, 1945, ten days into the Battle for Okinawa, sixteen Tokkotai
pilots take off from their base at Kanoya.
At noon, USS Missouri is northeast of Okinawa.
"Air Defense" is sounded at 1330 as an incoming "bogey" is picked up on radar
and spotted by binoculars 7500 yards out.
Anti-aircraft fire commences immediately and hits are observed, the "Zeke"
(Mitsubishi A6M Zero) smoking and losing altitude.
At 4000 yards the incoming aircraft is hit again, losing altitude rapidly and
appears about to splash.
The pilot fights to regain altitude and keeps coming through the hail of
Missouri's gun crews stand their ground, continuing to fire as the
low-flying Zeke bears down upon the ship, the Japanese pilot fighting to
maintain control and lift his damaged aircraft.
At 1443 the left wing of the Zeke strikes Missouri bare inches below
the main deck deflecting the nose hard into the steel hull of the ship at frame
160, the propeller cutting the main deck heading as wreckage is strewn on deck.
Upon impact, the right wing is torn loose and catapults forward, landing on
the 01 level above the starboard boat davit where fire erupts.
The Damage Control crew rushes to extinguish the flames as billowing black
smoke is drawn into engineering spaces below.
The fire is put out quickly and no serious injuries are reported.
After the attack, as the crew hoses down the deck and sweeps debris from the
ship, the pilot's remains are discovered among the wreckage.
Missouri's commanding officer, Captain William M. Callaghan, is
notified and issues orders for the ship's medical personnel to receive and
prepare the body for burial at sea.
Missouri remains on alert, steaming as before.
The above account has one error in the times. It states that at
1330 one "bogey" is picked up and spotted by binoculars 7500 yards out, but the
Zero fighter did not hit Missouri until over one hour later at 1443. It
did not take the Zero 73 minutes to go just 7500 yards. Instead, the detection
by radar at 1330 was made of the 13 aircraft in the pilot's squadron that had
just passed Kikaijima. The Zero that hit Missouri was picked up again by
radar much later as it was approached the battleship.
Three information display stands (at bottom left)
in area where kamikaze aircraft hit ship
The middle information stand in front of the aft turret of three 16-inch guns
gives the following information about the burial at sea of the remains of the
kamikaze pilot and the identification of the pilot by three researchers.
A Burial At Sea
At 0900 on April 12, 1945 in waters northeast of Okinawa, as the last major
battle of World War II rages at sea and ashore, the body of a Japanese pilot,
who attacked the battleship USS Missouri the day prior, is readied for
burial at sea.
The pilot's body is placed in a canvas shroud and draped with a Japanese flag
sewn by Missouri crew.
Members of the ship's company stand by as the flag-draped body is brought on
deck from sickbay and carried by a 6-man burial detail toward the rail near to
the point of impact.
Those present come to attention and offer a hand-salute as the Marine rifle
detail aims their weapons skyward to render a three-volley salute over the
As the battleship USS Missouri continues on through gentle swells, a bandsman
steps forward, his bugle raised and the lingering notes of "Taps" drift out
across the sea.
Senior Chaplain, Commander Roland Faulk, steps to the head of the burial
detail and concludes, saying simply: "We commit his body to the deep."
The burial detail tilts the flag-draped body, the weighted white canvas
shroud slipping over the side, disappearing into ocean depths below.
As Missouri continues on course, the burial detail gathers and folds
the Japanese flag.
In a quiet village in Japan, a family waits.
I wonder who he was . . . and why?
World War II US Army Military Intelligence Service veteran Edwin Kawahara
So did Japanese Navy veteran, Kensuke Sato, survivor of the sinking of
battleship Musashi, and Mitsubishi aircraft plant laborer Tadafumi
Sugiyama. They were determined to find out, and founded a volunteer research
committee for the Battleship Missouri Memorial. After years of research they
were as sure as available records would allow.
They concluded that 19-year old, former railroad worker, Petty Officer 2nd
class, Setsuo Ishino from the squadron that attacked the American task force on
April 11, was very likely, the pilot of the Zeke who crashed Missouri and
was buried at sea on April 12, 1945.
On April 11, 2001, family members of three Japanese pilots as well as the
family of former commanding officer Captain William M. Callaghan gathered aboard
Missouri to honor his courage and compassion in recognizing our common humanity—even
in the midst of war.
The middle information plaque also shows a photo of
Petty Officer 2nd Class Setsuo Ishino (see below) and another one of Setsuo
Ishino as a child holding a plane.
Petty Officer 2nd Class
Although the three researchers mentioned above came to the conclusion that
Ishino hit Missouri, Akira Kachi's 2005 book Senkan mizuuri ni totsunyuu shita
reisen (Zero fighter that crashed into battleship Missouri) concludes
that the Zero pilot who hit battleship Missouri on April 11, 1945, was
either Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Kenkichi Ishii or Flight Petty Officer 2nd
Class Setsuo Ishino. The Battleship Missouri Memorial information stands and
guides make no mention that Kenkichi Ishii is just as likely as Setsuo Ishino to
have hit the ship.
The information audio phone that can be used to tour the ship has a segment
on the kamikaze attack and another one on the subsequent burial of the pilot.
Former steward Felix Oliva recounts his experience of the kamikaze attack.
Signalman John P. Sullivan describes the funeral: "A chief signalman and two
other signalmen stayed up all night to make a Japanese flag, and we gave him a
burial at sea. The doctors stitched together and put him together from the
debris and put him in a box. Everybody said, 'Just get the hose and wash him
off, you know, why go through all the trouble?' But the skipper was a good man.
Captain Callaghan was a good man." The captain said, "This man died for his
country in what we are doing for our country."
Another Zero fighter from the Kamikaze Corps tried to hit Missouri on April
16, 1945, but crashed just off the ship's stern. The violent explosion when the
plane hit the water showered the
fantail with shrapnel and debris, which wounded two crewmen. The Battleship
Missouri Memorial provides no information related to this second kamikaze
Missouri's ward room has another display related to the photograph
taken of the kamikaze attack and pieces of wreckage kept by the crew as
souvenirs. An enlarged photograph of the
Zero fighter about ready to hit USS Missouri has the following
Missouri is struck by a Japanese "Zeke," April 11, 1945 during the
Battle for Okinawa. The photograph was taken by ship's baker "Buster"
The pilot's remains, believed to be Setsuo Ishino, was discovered among
the wreckage and buried at sea the following day.
The above display case has the following explanation:
Ship's baker "Buster" Campbell moonlighted with Missouri's
photographers, and happened to be in the right place at the right time to
photograph this Japanese "Zeke" striking Missouri on April 11, 1945.
These pieces of the wreckage were kept as souvenirs by the crew.
Piece of kamikaze plane wreckage with the following engraving:
"Jap Zeke suicide crashed USS Missouri April 11 1945"
The ward room contains various other exhibits and photographs of USS
Missouri's history. There are also couches where 15 people or so can watch the
History Channel DVD entitled The Three Wars of the Battleship Missouri in
which various veterans describe their experiences aboard the battleship.
Admission to Battleship Missouri Memorial costs $20 for adults and $10
for children. This includes a 35-minute guided tour, an information audio
phone tour, an Apple iPad Touch tour, or a self-guided tour along three marked
tour routes. Many tour groups make a visit to Battleship Missouri Memorial as
part of tours of Pearl Harbor historical sites, which include the Battleship
Arizona Memorial in front of USS Missouri, Pacific Aviation Museum on
Ford Island, and USS Bowfin Submarine Museum. A more detailed 90-minute Battle Stations Tour, which goes to areas of the
inaccessible without escort, is available for an additional $25. The Victory
Store on shore next to the battleship has a wide variety of souvenirs related to USS
books, DVDs, postcards, hats, and other clothing items.
Date of visit: September 11, 2011
Web Site - Battleship Missouri
1. Rear Admiral Masafumi Arima did not lead the first
Attack Squadron (tokkōtai). Lieutenant Yukio Seki led the first official Special Attack
Squadron from Mabalacat Air Base in the Philippines.
Related Web Pages
Kachi, Akira. 2005. Senkan mizuuri ni totsunyuu shita
reisen (Zero fighter that crashed into battleship Missouri). Tokyo: