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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 12:08 p.m., Friday, October 13, 2006

WWII veteran returns to battleship Missouri

Advertiser Staff

On the Navy's 231st birthday today, World War II veteran Ernie Thompson visited the battleship Missouri and recalled another important date in U.S. Navy and military history.

Thompson, 88, was present for Japan's formal surrender on the battleship's deck on Sept. 2, 1945 in Tokyo Bay. The ceremonies took less than half an hour, but meant an end to fighting for U.S. forces.

"It was a great day, of course," said the California man, who was in charge of the No. 4 boiler room. "The war was getting over with and we were going to be able to go home. And that was probably the most important thing in our minds because a lot of us had families and wives and children."

Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Joe R. Campa said about the Navy's birthday: "Throughout the past 231 years, our sailors and the Navy have continually adapted to the needs of the nation in both peace and war. Throughout our history, sailors from every social group, from countries around the globe, from diverse cultures and backgrounds have joined in one common cause: the right of all people to enjoy freedom and liberty. We can do no less in this splendid endeavor."