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The Japanese surrender on board the U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945

The Japanese surrender on board the U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945

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Early Sunday morning on September 2, 1945, aboard the new 45,000-ton battleship U.S.S. Missouri and before representatives of nine Allied nations, the Japanese signed their surrender. At the ceremonies, General MacArthur stated that the Japanese and their conquerors did not meet "in a spirit of mistrust, malice or hatred but rather, it is for us, both victors and vanquished, to rise to that higher dignity which alone benefits the sacred purposes we are about to serve."
Despite these words, none of the Japanese delegates were saluted by any of the high-ranking officers. Gen. Carl A. Spaatz later revealed that U.S. planes had been ready with bombs to halt any last-minute treacherous act on the part of the Japanese. Seeing a deckful of high Allied officers on the U.S.S. Missouri might have presented a tempting target for a final suicide attack.
In this image, Mydans captured Gen. Yoshijiro Umezu, Chief of the Army General Staff, signing the Instrument of Surrender on behalf of the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters. Watching from across the table are Lt. Gen. Richard K. Sutherland and Gen. Douglas MacArthur. Representatives of the Allied Powers stand behind General MacArthur.
When asked how he attained such a good shooting position at the surrender, Mydans answered that "being in combat, knowing the generals, covering the war over a long time helped a lot." The first outfit to head out of Okinawa was the 11th Airborne, commanded by Gen. Joe Swing. Since Mydans had been alongside Swing during some of the fighting, he was lucky enough to be chosen by the general to get on that first plane.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Date made
Mydans, Carl
place made
Japan: Tokyo Bay
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
overall: 20 in x 27 5/16 in; 50.8 cm x 69.4436 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
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Work and Industry: Photographic History
Carl Mydans
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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My father, Signalman First Class Raymond G. Hensel, was stationed on Guam. The night before the USS Missouri left for the signing of the peace treaty in Tokyo Harbor, he looked down from the tower onto the dock, and below him stood three five stars! Nimitz, Halsey, and MacArthur. My father, 21 at the time, scrambled down and asked if they needed anything. They replied they were waiting for the tender to take them on board the Missouri. It is a moment he will never forget. He is now 95, and living at Patriot's Landing, near Joint Base Lewis McCord, in DuPont, WA. After being released from the Navy and using the GI Bill at the U of Washington, he went on to join the U.S. Army as a career, and retired as a Lt. Col.
Congrats. You must be proud. Thank you for sharing.
I have been trying to look up the position where USS Missouri was anchored for the surrender of Japan. Surprisingly, the latitude and longitude i s not mentioned. I have seen it in some memorials but have been unable to find it on line.
From Adm Murray's account at the Surrender Ceremony: "This was the spot we had anchored in there in Tokyo Bay, Off Yokosuka. The same spot we’d originally anchored, where Perry had been in 1853".
The latitude and longitude are actually on the plaque on the deck of the Missouri.
Where can I find a list of the names of the officers and American personnel in the picture? Thank you!
Are any of the officers on deck U.S. Marines?
The officer standing between Admiral John McCain and Admiral William Halsey is Marine Colonel Gerald Friedman, a staff officer of Admiral Halsey's. He was 21 or 22 years old at that time.
Yes, some of them are marines. My great uncle, Robert Rinearson, was there and he was in HQ company of the 1st Marine Raider Battalion.
"This moment is represented across the America: With this photo in Washington, DC, the Missouri itself at its final mooring place in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and the original commemorative medallion imbedded in the deck where the surrender signing took place is located in the Missouri state capitol in Jefferson City."

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