Sept. 2, 2015, was the 70th anniversary of the surrender of the Japanese to American Forces that marked the end of World War II.
It was a time for the country to remember the conflict and the joy of knowing that the long war was over and the young men were returning home.
The day also brought back personal memories for a resident at Life Care Center of Stonegate in Parker, Colorado.
Robert Shultz was a young sailor aboard the USS Missouri, a battleship stationed in the Pacific at the end of the war. The ship, with the hard work of Shultz and his companions, was integral in the American attacks on Iwo Jima and Okinawa, and for several months, it was part of the force bombarding the Japanese coast and keeping enemy troops from leaving or returning to the islands.
After the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Japanese government announced its surrender on Aug. 15, 1945.
“On the day the official word was received, the Missouri, along with the other ships of Task Force 38, was in position for an air strike on Tokyo,” Shultz wrote in a letter to his parents dated Aug. 17, 1945. “When the message came, we already had air strikes on the way. Word was flashed to them to return, and after we gathered them all in, we retired to collect our wits and await any orders for our next move.”
Shultz continued, “At 11 o’clock, word went out to celebrate the occasion by breaking the battle flags. All the ships flew their largest ensigns and blew their whistles and sirens in honor of this great occasion. We tooted our whistle with much gusto, and the Mighty Missouri added her bit by getting the whistle stuck and continuing to toot until the engineers could get the steam secured and make minor repairs.”
On Sept. 2, General Douglas MacArthur came aboard the USS Missouri and met with the Japanese representatives. The whole world watched as the Japanese foreign minister, Mamoru Shigemitsu, signed the surrender papers.
“It was a semi-cloudy day, as I recall it,” Shultz shared in an interview with Denver’s News Channel 7 on Sept. 2, 2015, “and I swear that when the ceremony ended, the sun came out.”
In his letter to his family, he added, “We are all proud that we have been able to help end this war.”
Shultz stayed with the USS Missouri for several months after the surrender and was part of the crew that transported the remains of the Turkish ambassador back to his home country. Along the way, Shultz got to see some of the highlights of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.
After returning to the States in 1946, Shultz earned his college degree and worked as an insurance underwriter in Denver for many years. He later changed careers and began raising Texas Longhorn cattle, even winning the grand championship for Texas Longhorn bulls at the National Western Stock Show in Denver.
Shultz has four children, one of whom made the trip to Pearl Harbor for the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the surrender. As she walked on deck of the USS Missouri and sent photos to her father, Shultz reflected on the impact of what he and many others like him did to serve their country and future generations.