USS Reagan Strike Group’s Rear Adm. Girrier Joins Speaker Lineup at WWII 66th Anniversary Ceremony
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Pearl Harbor — The Battleship Missouri Memorial will commemorate the 66th anniversary of the end of World War II with a free ceremony on Friday, Sept. 2, 2011, from 8 to 9 a.m., on the Mighty Mo’s forward main deck.
Rear Adm. Girrier, Commander, Carrier Strike Group Seven, USS Ronald Reagan Strike Group, will join keynote speaker Dr. E. Bruce Heilman, WWII veteran and national spokesman for The Greatest Generations Foundation, in offering remarks. Ruth Ann Becker, board member of the USS Missouri Memorial Association, Inc., will welcome guests on behalf of the nonprofit organization that today is entrusted with the care and operation of America’s last battleship.
In the shadow of the Mighty Mo’s main guns, the program will feature patriotic music, a rifle salute and Echo Taps from atop turret one and superstructure, and a special Old Glory Detail by the Navy Region Hawaii Chief Petty Officers. The ceremony will be followed by the opportunity for guests to tour the ship’s decks, including the site where Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Douglas MacArthur and representatives from 10 nations assembled on Sept. 2, 1945, to accept Imperial Japan’s formal, unconditional surrender.
The formal surrender occurred months following V-E Day (Victory in Europe Day), May 8, 1945, when German troops laid down their arms after Germany surrendered to Allied Nations. Japan announced its surrender on Aug. 15 (Japan time) but formalized the agreement on Sept. 2 aboard the USS Missouri, thereby signifying the Allies’ victory over Axis Powers and restoring peace to the world.
During WWII, Heilman joined the U.S. Marine Corps and completed boot camp as the highest scorer on the rifle range in his platoon and one of the top three out of 600 Marines. He was deployed to Okinawa, arriving during Kamikaze bombing raids on the fleet. Heilman’s outfit took over Chimu Field, an airstrip vital to sustaining the bombing of Japan. He later served on occupation duty in Japan, flying as a radio operator on staff of the Commander of the Fifth Fleet, taking intelligence personnel to Hiroshima, Nagasaki and other sites in the Pacific, and even surviving an airplane crash on Iwo Jima. Sergeant Heilman was honorably discharged on Dec. 10, 1947.
Today, Dr. Heilman is chancellor of the University of Richmond and serves as the national spokesman for The Greatest Generations Foundation, a Denver-based, non-profit organization sponsoring the return of 20 WWII veterans to Pearl Harbor this month.
Rear Adm. Girrier assumed duties as Commander, Carrier Strike Group Seven, USS Ronald Reagan Strike Group in February 2011. A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and a Surface Warfare Officer, Girrier most recently served as Commander, Carrier Strike Group Eleven, USS Nimitz Strike Group, from March 2010 to February 2011. From 2008 to 2010, he served as vice commander, Naval Mine and Anti-Submarine Warfare Command, with operational commander duties in 2nd, 3rd, 5th, and 7th Fleets. In both these tours, his commands pioneered innovative tactics, improving naval force warfighting effectiveness.
In additional sea tours, Girrier commanded Destroyer Squadron 15, from 2005 to 2007, forward deployed in Yokosuka, Japan. The squadron developed new tactics, techniques and procedures for anti-submarine warfare and maritime ballistic missile defense while exercising extensively with navies throughout the 7th Fleet area.
Girrier is co-author of the professional naval books, “Command at Sea,” “Watch Officers Guide” and “Division Officer’s Guide.”
The Missouri’s ceremony is free but reservations are encouraged, as space is limited. RSVPs are being accepted online at USSMissouri.org. Guests are asked to be seated by 7:45 a.m. For individuals without base access, complimentary roundtrip shuttle bus service from the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center will be available beginning at 7 a.m.
The Battleship Missouri Memorial, located a mere ship’s length from the USS Arizona Memorial, completes a historical visitor experience that begins with the “day of infamy” that saw the sinking of USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor and ends with Imperial Japan’s unconditional surrender aboard USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. Following an astounding career that spans five decades and three wars, from World War II to the Korean conflict to the Liberation of Kuwait, the “Mighty Mo” was decommissioned and donated to the USS Missouri Memorial Association, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, which operates the battleship as a historic attraction and memorial. The association oversees her care and preservation with the support of visitors, memberships, grants and the generosity of donors.
Annual event marks historic surrender aboard USS Missouri (BB-63)