The dreaded kamikaze pilots of World War II are being remembered at Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor aboard a ship attacked by one of the Japanese suicide bombers during the Battle of Okinawa.
The exhibit at the Battleship Missouri Memorial opens Saturday, exactly 70 years after a pilot crashed his plane into the USS Missouri during the battle. A sailor snapped a single black-and-white photo of the attack.
No crew members were seriously hurt, and damage to the ship was minimal. The point of impact is still visible on the ship’s hull.
The exhibit at Pearl Harbor will mark the first time the artifacts have been displayed outside Japan. Included are farewell letters and poems written by the Japanese pilots and translated into English.
Although never officially confirmed, it is thought the pilot who died in the attack on the Missouri was Setsuo Ishino. In a display of humanity, the ship’s commanding officer, Capt. William Callaghan, ordered that the 19-year-old pilot be buried at sea after a military ceremony.
Sailors hastily stitched together a Japanese flag to cover the body. A bugler played “Taps” as the ship’s chaplain commended his body to the deep.
Visitors to the exhibit will see the extraordinary photograph taken by the ship’s baker, Harold “Buster” Campbell. The blurry image shows the Japanese plane moments before it crashed into the battleship. Campbell’s account of the attack, written in his wartime diary, is part of the memorial’s archives.
The exhibit will open after a ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday. One of the speakers will be the mayor of Minamikyushu, Japan, home to Chiran Peace Museum. It occupies the site from which many of the pilots departed on their final missions. The museum holds a large collection of kamikaze artifacts.
World War II officially ended Sept. 2, 1945 about five months after the attack, as Japanese leaders signed surrender documents on the deck of the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. The Missouri joined the Pearl Harbor memorial in 1999.
Admission is free to Saturday’s unveiling. Otherwise, general admission is $25 for adults and $13 for children 4-12.
The exhibit continues through Nov. 11, Veterans Day.
The museum, which is reached by shuttle bus from the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.
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