The event that brought the Pacific War, and World War II as a whole, to an official end, occurred on Sept. 2, 1945, with the signing of the surrender by representatives of the Empire of Japan under the big guns of the battleship USS Missouri.
In a letter that day to the combined Pacific Fleet, Admiral Chester Nimitz, who took command just after Pearl Harbor, told the Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in that sweeping ocean, "The long and bitter struggle, which Japan started so treacherously on the seventh of December, 1941, is at an end."
The 23-minute ceremony on USS Missouri saw the Japanese delegation, in turn with those from America's WWII Pacific allies to include Great Britain, Australia, France, the Netherlands, Canada, and New Zealand, sign the surrender document as the crew of Missouri watched.
General Douglas MacArthur, signed on behalf of the U.S. as the Supreme Allied Commander.
As .30-06 watched on...
While the event occurred on one of the mightiest dreadnoughts afloat, surrounded by a combined Allied fleet, and under an umbrella of hundreds of Air Force B-29s and Navy carrier planes, it was the good old .30-06-caliber M1 Garand that was immediately on hand 75 years ago to stand guard.
Before heading to USS Missouri, the Japanese delegation and the representatives of the Allied Powers walked through a U.S. Army honor guard pierside to be taken to a waiting destroyer, USS Buchanan, for the solemn cruise to the battleship. The Soldiers were drawn from the 11th Airborne Division's Reconnaissance Battalion, a unit that had fought in the Philipines.
Once on Missouri, the events were secured by the ship's 85-man Marine Detachment, also armed with Garands.
Today, three-quarters of a century on from the events of 1945, an increasingly small pool of WWII Veterans remain with us. Please take time to reflect on those lost, and salute those left.
From Nimitz's letter:
On Guam is a military cemetery in a green valley not far from my headquarters. The ordered rows of white crosses stand as reminders of the heavy cost we have paid for victory. On these crosses are the names of American Soldiers, Sailors and Marines – Culpepper, Tomaino, Sweeney, Bromberg, Depew, Melloy, Ponziani – names that are a cross-section of democracy. They fought together as brothers in arms; they died together and now they sleep side by side. To them we have a solemn obligation – the obligation to ensure that their sacrifice will help to make this a better and safer world in which to live.