General Douglas MacArthur’s Memorable Return to the Philippines Remembered as the Battleship Missouri Memorial Builds Toward 75th Anniversary of the War’s End in 2020
PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii – Seventy-four years ago, World War II came to an end when Japan signed the Instrument of Surrender aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945.
Veterans, active duty servicemembers, military leaders and community members came together aboard the Battleship Missouri Memorial today to commemorate the 74th anniversary of the end of World War II. The ceremony featured a keynote address from U.S. Representative Ed Case of Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District, and Major General Ronald P. Clark, Commander of the U.S. Army 25th Infantry Division, serving as the distinguished guest speaker.
Congressman Case spoke about how the ceremony of September 2, 1945, signaled the start of the everlasting peace and friendship that exists between the U.S. and Japan. “Every single year, Japan reinforces that we are allies and we now enjoy one of the strongest partnerships our country has ever had. That would have seemed inconceivable at the close of World War II and for at least a decade afterwards. Yet, today we take it for granted that Japan is our close friend and ally.”
This year’s ceremony paid a special tribute to the 75th anniversary of General Douglas MacArthur’s memorable return to the Philippines to lead the liberation of its people from the tyrannical rule of Imperial Japan. On October 20, 1944, General MacArthur famously strode through the shallow surf onto the shore of the eastern Philippine island of Leyte. This came two years after General MacArthur escaped from the Philippines following Imperial Japan’s invasion and made his famous promise, “I shall return.”
Following the Pearl Harbor attack on December 7, 1941, Japan’s military forces invaded the Philippines and went to battle with U.S. and Philippine forces under General MacArthur’s command. Over the next three months, U.S. and Philippine troops were forced to withdraw from Luzon to Bataan, while MacArthur’s headquarters and family were moved to Corregidor. In March 1942, with Corregidor surrounded by Japan’s forces, President Roosevelt ordered General MacArthur to escape, not wanting one of America’s top military leaders to become a prisoner of war.
Major General Clark spoke about the proud history of the U.S. Army’s 25th Infantry Division and its connection to General MacArthur. “Today on America’s last battleship, we commemorate duty, honor, country. These timeless words made famous by General Douglas MacArthur, who stood near this very spot 74 years ago today.
“With the support of the leadership in Washington and Admiral Nimitz’s Pacific fleet, General MacArthur led a major offensive and heralded his return to the Philippines in October 1944. Our Tropic Lightning soldiers of the 25th infantry division would join General MacArthur on the shores of Luzon and liberate the soldiers that he was forced to leave behind.”
The liberation of the Philippines began with the Battle of Leyte Gulf from October 23 through 26, 1944, World War II’s largest naval battle with more than 200,000 naval personnel. U.S. and Australian naval forces defeated the Imperial Japanese Navy and inflicted such heavy losses that Japan’s forces were weakened considerably for the rest of the war. The Battle of Leyte Gulf is also notable for being history’s last naval battle fought between battleships, and the first battle in which kamikaze attacks are used by Japan.
75th Anniversary to Commemorate the End of World War II on September 2, 2020
Next year, September 2, 2020, the Battleship Missouri Memorial will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II onboard the battleship where the surrender took place, now berthed in the hallowed waters of Pearl Harbor.
Michael Carr, president and CEO of the Battleship Missouri Memorial, encouraged World War II veterans and their family members to make plans to attend the 75th anniversary ceremony.
“Paving the way to peace in World War II came with heavy sacrifices,” said Carr. “Our 75th anniversary ceremony in 2020 will extend our nation’s eternal gratitude to all those service members who fought and died, making the freedoms we enjoy today possible. Here at Pearl Harbor’s Battleship Row at the Battleship Missouri Memorial, we will recognize the courageous soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, coastguardsmen, merchant marines and wartime labor force of America’s greatest generation for the honor and distinction of their service.”
Today’s recognition of the 75th anniversary of General MacArthur’s memorable return to lead the liberation of the Philippines is the latest ceremony by the Battleship Missouri Memorial to recognize a major wartime event that led to victory in World War II 75 years ago.
Two years ago, the Battleship Missouri Memorial recognized the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Guadalcanal and the brave American Armed Forces who persevered to win this early and pivotal battle in the Pacific Theater of World War II.
Last year, the Battleship Missouri Memorial honored the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the revered 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the famed “Go For Broke” U.S. soldiers comprised of Japanese-American civilians who fought heroically in the European Theater and became known as the most decorated unit in the history of American warfare.
About the Battleship Missouri Memorial
Since opening in January 1999, the Battleship Missouri Memorial has attracted more than 8.5 million visitors from around the world with a fascinating tour experience showcasing the USS Missouri’s unique place in history. Located a mere ship’s length from the USS Arizona Memorial, the Mighty Mo completes a historical visitor experience that begins with the “day of infamy” and sinking of the USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and ends with Japan’s formal surrender aboard the USSMissouri in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945.
The USS Missouri had an astounding career over five decades and three wars – World War II, the Korean War, and Desert Storm – after which it was decommissioned and donated to the USS Missouri Memorial Association, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The Association operates the Battleship Missouri Memorial as a historic attraction and oversees her care and preservation with the support of visitors, memberships, grants, and donations.
The Battleship Missouri Memorial is open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. General admission, which includes choice of an optional tour, is $29 per adult and $13 per child (4-12). Military, kama‘āina (local resident) and school group pricing is available. For information or reservations, call (toll-free) 1-877-644-4896 or visit USSMissouri.org.