Forever stamp June 11 for ‘America’s last battleship’
By Michael Baadke
The United States Postal Service will pay tribute to “America’s last battleship” on June 11 by issuing a nondenominated (55¢) forever stamp honoring the USS Missouri (BB 63).
The issue date marks the 75th anniversary of the Missouri’s commissioning on June 11, 1944.
The stamp will be issued in panes of 20 with a first-day ceremony at the Battleship Missouri Memorial at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii. The ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. Hawaii Standard Time.
The ceremony participants will include USPS acting enterprise analytics vice president Jeffrey C. Johnson; USS Missouri Memorial Foundation president and CEO Mike Carr; Rear Adm. Brian P. Fort, U.S. Navy Region Hawaii; and retired Rear Adm. Samuel Cox, U.S. Navy, director of the Naval History and Heritage Command and curator of the Navy.
While the first-day ceremony is open to the public, specific admission and security procedures are in place, including restrictions on items that can be carried and requirements for boarding transportation to the memorial.
Visitors who wish to attend the event must register online at usps.com/ussmissouri, where the attendance regulations are described in full.
Affectionately nicknamed “Mighty Mo,” the USS Missouri is being commemorated, in part, for its significant role at the conclusion of World War II.
“On Sept. 2, 1945, military officials from the Allied powers and imperial Japan convened on her deck and signed the documents confirming Japan’s surrender and ending the war,” the Postal Service said.
Among the American officers taking part in the signing ceremony were Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the commander of U.S. Army forces in the Pacific; and U.S. Navy Fleet Adm. Chester W. Nimitz.
MacArthur was commemorated on a 6¢ stamp issued Jan. 26, 1971 (Scott 1424), and Nimitz was honored on a 50¢ definitive stamp on Feb. 22, 1985 (1869).
The website of the Battleship Missouri Memorial reports that the ship was constructed at Brooklyn’s New York Navy Yard during WWII. It was christened by Margaret Truman when it was launched Jan. 29, 1944, and it was commissioned as the USS Missouri on June 11, 1944, with Capt. William M. Callaghan in command.
The ship saw 17 years of active service, including its support of United Nations forces during the Korean conflict.
According to the U.S. Navy, “Although most remember Missouri as the symbolic end of World War II, she was a highly decorated battleship that earned eight battle stars during her service to the nation—three during World War II and five during the Korean War. Missouri was also the first battleship to fire Tomahawk cruise missiles at Iraqi targets at the commencement of Operation Desert Storm.”
The ship was decommissioned in 1992.
The Navy history continues, “Missouri was donated as a museum and memorial ship on May 4, 1998, and today rests near the Arizona (BB 39) Memorial at Pearl Harbor.”
The Pearl Harbor Visitors Bureau notes that the USS Missouri “was the last American battleship ever built, despite their military successes, mostly due to the increased importance of aircraft carriers.”
The illustration on the new commemorative stamp was created digitally by artist Dan Cosgrove, whose images of locations from all over the United States have appeared on stamps in the American Landmarks series.
The USS Arizona Memorial is just one of the sites that Cosgrove has illustrated, for a $19.99 stamp issued March 13, 2014 (Scott 4873). Since the American Landmarks series began in 2008, he has created the vignettes for 22 higher denomination stamps, which were listed in a table in the Jan. 28 Linn’s Stamp News, page 8.
According to the Postal Service, the artwork on the new stamp depicts the Missouri “in the disruptive camouflage she wore from her commissioning until a refit in early 1945.”
The stamp was designed by USPS art director Greg Breeding. The pane of 20, offset-printed by Banknote Corporation of America, includes a banner along the bottom with the ship’s name spelled out in dropout white against an ocean background.
Two pictorial first-day cancels, one in black and the other in color, each include a representation of the battleship as part of the design.
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