PEARL HARBOR AND THE "MIGHTY MO"
This STB is the text of an address given to the delegates
attending the Conference of Grand Masters and the Conference of
Grand Secretaries in Honolulu, in Feb. 1999. At that time Randy TS.
Chang was serving as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Hawaii.
These remarks were given aboard the Battleship Missouri, the "Mighty
Inasmuch as we Freemasons are committed to peace and harmony among
all people, and many outstanding patriotic Americans were Freemasons
who served our country well, and many of them served in the Armed
Forces of this country, both in its founding and in the wars to
defeat tyrants and dictators, we believe it is most appropriate that
we hold our opening ceremony at this very special place in American
History. I am referring to such men as George Washington, John Paul
Jones, Paul Revere, Benjamin Franklin, Andrew Jackson, David
Farragut, Edward Preble, and in later years . . . Teddy Roosevelt,
Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle, Theodore Roosevelt Jr., Ernest
King, Homer Wallin, and Marc Mitscher.
Of the 123 Medals of Honor awarded in World War I, 16 were to
Freemasons. Of the 434 medals awarded in World War Il, 21 were to
Freemasons. Out of 131 medals awarded in the Korean conflict, 3 were
to Freemasons. And out of the 240 medals awarded in the Vietnam Era,
4 were awarded to Freemasons.
Since we are at Ford Island in Pearl Harbor let us start with some
of the major events that occurred here. World War II began for the
United States at this very location on December 7, 1941. In a
surprise attack the Imperial Japanese Navy's First Carrier Strike
Force struck most of the United States Military Bases on the Island
of Oahu of the then Territory of Hawaii. Pearl Harbor suffered the
greatest number of casualties and the destruction of many ships.
When the Battleship Arizona blew up and sank, 1,177 men were
trapped, some dead and others dying, in a twisted mass of metal,
engulfed in flames. In spite of the most intensified efforts to
extricate the dead only the bodies of 75 men could be removed, and
1,102 are still entombed in the Arizona. When Pearl Harbor was
attacked on that tragic Sunday morning of December 7, 1941, this
berth now occupied by the "Mighty Mo" was part of the area known as
"Battleship Row." Seven battleships were berthed in "Battleship Row"
in a North-South direction positioned as follows: First was the
NEVADA, followed by the ARIZONA which was inboard of the repair ship
Vestal. Next was the TENNESSEE, inboard of the WEST VIRGINIA. Next
in line was the MARYLAND which was berthed inboard of the OKLAHOMA,
followed by the tanker Neosha, with the CALIFORNIA at the end of the
row. These battleships were the main targets of the Japanese Task
Force. All but the Arizona and the Oklahoma were eventually returned
to service. The attack was carried out by two waves of aircraft and
lasted for about two hours. Fortunately, none of the three U.S.
Aircraft Carriers were in port at the time of the attack. The
Enterprise was enroute from Wake Island, the Lexington was enroute
to Midway Island, and the Saratoga was at the San Diego Naval Base.
Equally important was the fact that the Imperial Japanese Navy did
not know the whereabouts of the three carriers.
Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, Commanderin-Chief of the Imperial Japanese
Fleet and principal architect of the Pearl Harbor attack, was a
strong proponent of air power and had counted heavily on destroying
the American Aircraft Carriers. Although the attack was highly
celebrated as a great victory by Imperial Japan, Yamamoto considered
it to be a seriously flawed victory because he realized that the
U.S. Carriers posed a powerful threat to any Japanese plans for
further conquest in the Pacific. As events evolved Yamamoto's fears
became a reality, beginning with the Imperial Japanese Navy
suffering a humiliating defeat in the Battle of Midway on June 4-6,
1942. The vastly outnumbered and under-equipped Americans inflicted
the worst defeat on the Empire of Japan's forces that they had ever
experienced. The Japanese carriers Akagi, Kaga, Soryu, and Hiryu
that had participated in the December 7th attack on Pearl Harbor
were sunk, and about one-third of their pilots, all seasoned
veterans, were lost. Many Americans look back at the December 7th
surprise attack as a one-time successful strike and nothing more
than an end in itself. This was not the case. The Japanese attack on
Midway was the initial phase of "Eastern Operation," Admiral
Yamamoto's plan to conquer and occupy the Hawaiian Islands. Taking
Midway was to be followed by occupying the Island of Hawaii in
October of 1942, with the invasion of the Island of Oahu scheduled
for March 1943. The Japanese defeat at Midway brought "Eastern
Operation" to an abrupt halt, never to be revived. The Battle of
Midway turned the tide for the United States and its Allies in the
Pacific. By war's end, all the Japanese ships, carriers and
submarines that had participated in the December 7, 1941 surprise
attack had been sunk or destroyed by the Americans. As you can see,
we are located at one of the most significant historical sites in
the annals of American History. But there is more to come. Let us
leave the days of "Battleship Row" and the decisive victory of the
Americans in the Battle of Midway, and move on to the "Mighty Mo"
and its role in our history.
She was battleship gray not black like Commodore Perry's ships in
1853. She made her way into Tokyo Bay on a mission that formally
ended the most disastrous war the world had ever endured. She was
the USS Missouri.
All the arrangements were made and everything was in place for the
great event. The date was September 2, 1945, and the representatives
of the defeated Empire of Japan boarded the USS Missouri to sign the
instrument of surrender. Overhead General MacArthur's five-star
flag, along with Admiral Nimitz's five stars, floated beneath the
American flag that had flown over the Capitol in Washington, D.C. on
December 7, 1941. Commodore Perry's flag was flown in from the Naval
Academy at Annapolis and draped over a bulkhead.
At 9:00 a.m. after the Chaplain had given the invocation and the
recorded playing of The Star Spangled Banner over the ship's public
address system, General MacArthur appeared and stepped directly to
the microphone, and with a single sheet of paper said:
We are gathered here, representative of the major warring powers, to
conclude a solemn agreement whereby peace may be restored. It would
be inappropriate to discuss here different ideals and ideology or to
meet in a spirit of distrust, malice or hatred. Instead both the
conquerors and the conquered must rise to that higher dignity which
alone benefits the sacred purposes we are about to serve. It is my
earnest hope and indeed the hope of all mankind that a better world
shall emerge, one founded upon faith and understanding, a world
dedicated to the dignity of man and the fulfillment of his most
cherished wish for freedom, tolerance, and justice. As Supreme
Commander for the Allied Powers, I announce it my firm purpose, in
the tradition of the countries 1 represent, to proceed in the
discharge of my responsibilities, while taking all dispositions to
insure that the terms of surrender are fully, promptly, and
faithfully complied with.
MacArthur's speech was without vengeance and stunned the Japanese
delegation who had expected the worst, especially those who were
associated or familiar with Japan's actions following the surrender
of Singapore, the Philippines, and the horrors of Nanking.
Two copies of the surrender documents had been placed on an old mess
table. One bound in leather for the Allies, and the other canvas
bound for the Japanese. General MacArthur used five pens to sign his
signature on the documents. He was followed by the delegates of the
Allied Powers. MacArthur handed the first pen to Lieutenant General
Jonathan Wainwright who had taken over command of the U.S. and
Philippine Armed Forces in the Philippines when MacArthur was
evacuated to Australia by order of President Roosevelt. The second
pen went to Lieutenant General Arthur Percival who had surrendered
Singapore. The third pen would go to West Point and the fourth to
the Naval Academy. The last one was an inexpensive red-barreled pen
that belonged to his wife which he used to sign the "Arthur" in his
name, which she gave to their son.
Getting up from his chair at 9:25 a.m. MacArthur walked to the
microphone and in a steely voice said: "'These proceedings are now
closed." As the Japanese delegation was being led away, he put his
arm around Admiral Halsey's shoulders and said: "Bill where the hell
are those airplanes?" At that precise moment a fleet of B-29 bombers
and Navy fighter aircraft came in from the South and roared across
the sky overhead as they flew toward the mists shrouding the sacred
The 01 veranda deck of the "Mighty Mo" has a plaque on the spot
where the Formal Instrument of Surrender ending World War II was
The USS Missouri received three World War 11 Battle Stars, five for
Korea, and served in Operation Desert Storm.
Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, General Douglas
MacArthur, General Jonathan Wainwright, and Commodore Matthew Pent
were all Freemasons. Grand Master Samuel Hawthorne made General
MacArthur a Mason at Sight in the Grand Lodge of the Philippines on
January 17, 1936. The three degrees were conferred on MacArthur in
the presence of several hundred Master Masons. He subsequently
became a member of Manila Lodge No. 1. Douglas MacArthur and his
father Arthur -MacArthur, who was also a Freemason, are the only
father and son recipients of the Medal of Honor.
World War II began for the Americans here at Pearl Harbor on
December 7, 1941, and formally ended in Tokyo Bay on September 2,
1945, aboard the USS Missouri.
My brethren, ladies and guests, you are seated where two of the most
memorable and significant events in American History actually took
place .... I urge you to think about it.
back to top