Controversial ceremony held aboard USS Missouri by the USS Missouri Memorial Association. Although the ceremony was designed to honor the first Commanding Officer of the ship, Captain William M.. Callaghan, USN, some reports in Japanese newspapers said the ceremony was to honor the Japanese kamikaze pilot that crashed Missouri in 1945. The follow statement was made by retired Captain Don Hess (ret.), COO of the Missouri Association.”AlohaAs you may be aware, an erroneous news story has been circulated stating that the USS Missouri Memorial Association is hosting a ceremony to honor kamikaze pilots. I want to personally assure you that story is false. I have attached for you a press release that accurately describes the special ceremony being held April 12 to honor Captain William M. Callaghan, the Missouri’s first commanding officer. A story was published March 19 in Japan’s Kyoto News and posted by AOL’s web site that completely misrepresents the intent of the ceremony, contains several key errors, and misquotes me. On behalf of the Association, I apologize for any consternation this may have caused for you and your family. I can also assure you that the Battleship Missouri Memorial is and always will be an enduring tribute to the brave men and women of our Armed Forces who protect America and its freedom. As a veteran and retired Navy captain, I would not accept it any other way. As an historical visitor attraction, everything about the “Mighty Mo” speaks to the pride and honor that this great battleship symbolizes for our nation and its people. Our visitors are genuinely touched by the significance of its presence in Pearl Harbor and close proximity to the USS Arizona Memorial. Each year we host public ceremonies to honor the sacrifices and triumphs of America’s veterans on Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and September 2, the anniversary of Japan’s surrender to end World War II. We do this to remind the public that freedom comes with a price. Since its arrival in June 1998, the Missouri has been the site of more than 4,000 military ceremonies, including commissioning, re-enlistments, retirements and promotions. The use of the battleship for these ceremonies is provided to service members free of charge as a small gesture of our thanks for their duty and commitment to America. Like you, we care deeply about veterans and the contributions they and their families have made for our country. I hope this answers any concerns you may have had about the Association and the ceremony that is taking place on April 12. Most sincerely, Don Hess, Captain, USN (ret), Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, USS Missouri Memorial Association (The USS Missouri is now a Memorial and Museum and berthed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii near the Arizona Memorial).