WW II COMMEMORATION
AT THE U.S.S. IOWA
Remembrance of the end of World War Two on September 2, 1945 and the signing of the Peace Treaty with Japan on September 8, 1950
On September 7, 2001 in one of the most remarkable San Francisco Bay Area naval ceremonies in recent times, the conclusion of War World II on September 2, 1945 in Tokyo Bay was commemorated at the U.S.S. Iowa in Suisun Bay. This remembrance was also noteworthy as it recalled the signing of the peace treaty with Japan on September 8, 1950 in San Francisco. (The Secretary of State was in San Francisco with Japanese officials in observance of that event.) This gathering at the IOWA was sponsored by the Marin County Council of the Navy League and made possible by the assistance of Naval Sea Systems Command, the Maritime Administration, and the Coast Guard. The day’s proceedings represented a significant naval remembrance in the Bay Area.
In what amounted to the last national commemoration before the terrorist attacks of September 11, eighty people met at the Reserve Fleet facility in Suisun Bay. They included former crew members, Marin County Council members, HSMPS Committee Members, Coast Guard personnel, Maritime Administration officials, and media. Some former crew members traveled almost 700 miles to remember the end of World War II. According to historians, the U.S.S. Iowa was originally selected to be the surrender platform in Tokyo Bay instead of MISSOURI. Both ships were in Tokyo Bay for Japan’s capitulation.
We were ferried out to an enormous barge alongside IOWA. We were not allowed onboard the battleship for safety reasons, as BB-61 was still the scene of ongoing work. However, boating out to IOWA and passing in front of the battleship as well as being right beside THE BIG STICK (IOWA’s nickname), provided impressive vistas of her massive size and shape.
Merylin Wong, the dynamic supporter of IOWA and her crew, was the MC. Guest speakers included Joe Pecoraro of MARAD, Bill Stephens of Navy League, Captain Lawrence Brudnicki of the Coast Guard, Paul Gomez, a Director of the Veterans Association of the U.S.S. Iowa, Captain Ed Cummings USN (ret), head of the effort to preserve the IOWA as a memorial and museum in San Francisco. The passion of the event was enormous, as crew, veterans, and the ship were honored. Extremely significant was the fact that 10 of the ship’s company on the barge were present in Tokyo Bay aboard IOWA at Japan’s surrender! There were tears in crew member eyes as they touched the IOWA and recalled their love of the ship that safely carried them into battle. During that war there were no combat fatalities aboard lucky IOWA.
To honor this event, the Coast Guard conducted three flybys! A C-130 from Sacramento conducted two flybys, joined by a Dolphin helicopter. All flew overhead in dramatic passes. Both the C-130 and the helicopter flew at very low levels, the engine noise making talking almost impossible. Their approach, with flood lights and landing lights blinking on and off, made for an unforgettable impression. It was a time when everyone present was proud to be an American. We will be always grateful for the Coast Guard’s contribution to this day’s events.
In closing, we feel it significant to note that this event almost two month’s to arrange. It necessitated a great deal of coordination and participation by both the Maritime Administration and the Coast Guard. Finally, both Historic Ship’s Memorial at Pacific Square, the lead organization in the Country working to preserve IOWA as a naval memorial and museum, and the Veteran’s Association of the U.S.S. Iowa were invaluable partners in making this exceptional ceremony possible. Last but not least, we are grateful to the Coast Guard Auxiliary for maintaining the security zone around IOWA that day. The event was covered in print media and TV broadcast news.
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