The Battleship Missouri Memorial is open Wed-Sat from 8am to 4pm, the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum Wed-Sun from 9am to 4pm, and the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park is open daily from 8am to 4pm.

The Last Battleship Bugler

by Nov 10, 2019

The Following is an account of service aboard USS Missouri provided by former LCDR Richard Bergren, Officer in Charge (OIC) of the battleship’s Aviation Department during and after Operation Desert Storm in 1991:

“It has been just over 25 years now since we were in Pearl Harbor for the 50th year anniversary [December 7, 1991] commemoration. That day, Missouri hosted the entire chain of command from the President down to the mess cook.

While embarked on Missouri enroute to Pearl Harbor in early December 1991 [for the commemoration], I briefed an RPV training evolution that we would fly the day before arriving in Pearl. After my early morning brief, the XO told me that as soon after we got the RPV launched and checked out, he wanted us to fly it away from the ship and lower the [recovery] net so that a funeral [burial-at-sea] could take place.

He then proceeded to brief everyone on how the funeral ceremony would be conducted, ending with a Marine rifle squad firing a three-volley salute.

He asked if he had missed anything. I said yes, he had forgotten that a bugler should sound “Taps” following the rifle salute [and] I told him that I could sound taps on my bugle, which I’d brought aboard.

I’d majored in Music at Michigan State, played trumpet and taught music in public schools before joining the Navy’s Aviation Officer Candidate program, and I continued to play my trumpet and bugle throughout my 22-year Naval career.

So, after launching the RPV, I turned control over to another pilot, changed into my blues and went down to the fantail. The RPV net was lowered and the funeral for a WW II Battleship sailor (who had served aboard the USS South Dakota) was conducted.

[After the Marine rifle squad fired the three-volley rifle salute] I sounded “Taps”, and his ashes were spread on the waters of the Pacific.

This had been his last wish. When the funeral concluded, we raised the [RPV recovery] net, and I returned to RPV Control for the return and recovery of the plane.

It wasn't until later that I realized I had been the very last bugler to sound a call aboard an active duty battleship at sea.”

The photo above is a view from an earlier time, of the ship’s bugler playing “Taps” during World War II, on April 12, 1945, in the midst of the Battle of Okinawa, during the burial-at-sea of a Kamikaze pilot who had crashed Missouri the previous day, his body found among the wreckage of the aircraft on deck following the attack, given a burial at sea the following day by the crew of USS Missouri.