Intrepid Museum Programs and Exhibitions
Rainbow Band
Purchase Tickets
Home > September 2015 > This Month in Intrepid’s History
This Month in Intrepid’s History
Posted: 9/14/2015 9:18:04 AM


USS Intrepid was commissioned on August 16, 1943, joining the U.S. Navy in the middle of World War II. For the next two years the ship and crew trained, fitted out and fought their way across the Pacific Ocean. Along the way, the contributions the ship and crew made to victory were vital and the price they paid was high. Travel with our Museum tour guides here each month as they follow Intrepid’s journey and its crew’s experience throughout World War II.

August and September 1945: Victory. . . Now What?

On August 16, 1945, Intrepid’s crew gathered together to celebrate an important milestone—the ship’s second birthday. Exactly two years earlier, their ship had joined the U.S. Navy in the middle of the deadliest conflict in human history. Celebration of this second anniversary carried special significance: just one day earlier, the fighting had come to an end.

Japan’s announcement of surrender on August 15 didn’t come as a surprise to the men of Intrepid. Ever since the second atomic bomb destroyed Nagasaki on August 9, Intrepid and other ships anchored at Eniwetok were alive with rumors about ongoing negotiations. Official confirmation finally came just after eleven in the morning on August 15, in the form of an order from Adm. Chester Nimitz directing the ships and sailors of the U.S. Pacific Fleet to “cease offensive operations against Japan.” The day they had hoped for, prayed for and fought for had finally come.

Members of Intrepid’s crew celebrate on August 15, 1945, overlaid by messages from Nimitz and Forrestal announcing Japan’s surrender. (USS Intrepid Cruise Book, 1963)


Reactions among Intrepid’s crew varied. For some, the immediate response was utter disbelief, despite all the rumors they had heard. In his memoir, fighter pilot Roy Erickson tells the story of Ens. “Boots” Liles who upon hearing of the surrender ran back to his squadron’s bunkroom and announced at the top of his lungs to the sleeping pilots, Hey! Wake up! The Japs have surrendered! The war is over! The war is over!”

He was rebuffed by his fellow pilots: “Shut up, Liles! Get the hell out of here and let us get some sleep.”

As Erickson explains, “Boots had cried wolf once too often.”

His fellow pilots may not have gotten any more sleep that morning, given the chaotic jubilation that ensued. James Smith recalls, The whole ship shook, not as much as when the torpedo hit it, but man you could hear people hollerin’ and screamin’.” For Smith, the experience was a very happy one. Surrounded by other crew members, Smith describes friends and strangers alike hugging one another, reveling in a shared sense of elation mixed with relief. “Man, when we heard about that…‘We’re all gonna get to go home,’ you know. Yeah, we’s all pretty happy bunch.”

For others, the experience was quieter and a cause for reflection. Alone on the empty hangar deck, Eugene Jones heard the onboard announcement about the surrender. Instead of hugging strangers, Jones burst into tears. As he later explained, “The elation and the cheering, and it was vocal all over the ship. I just happened to be by myself, and it hit me differently.”

As the day wore on, Intrepid received other messages, including a congratulatory message from Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal, shown below:

Message from Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal to members of the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard following Japan’s announcement of surrender, as typed by Joseph Barry, August 15, 1945. (Collection of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. Gift of Joseph Barry.)


Joseph Barry, the radio operator who volunteered to take the message down, felt a profound sense of the moment’s significance in history and his part in it. The feeling was so strong that sometime later, Barry pocketed the message as a memento and held on to it for the next 70 years. During Intrepid’s 70th commissioning anniversary celebration, he donated it to the Intrepid Museum.

Yet for all the emotions and memories tied to August 15, 1945, at that point the war was not yet over, nor could Intrepid head home. After spending a week waiting for further orders at Eniwetok, Intrepid finally linked up with the Third Fleet off Japan on August 21. From there the carrier joined the Seventh Fleet as it sailed into the Yellow Sea. Allied leaders were concerned that Japanese forces still on the ground in China and Korea might not honor the surrender agreement. Intrepid’s show of force was meant to intimidate and if necessary enforce compliance.

Intrepid aircraft fly in formation over the Chinese city of Shanghai. Following Japan’s surrender, Intrepid spent several weeks patrolling the Chinese coast and keeping an eye on Japanese forces in the area. (Collection of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum)


On September 2, 1945, as Allied and Japanese representatives met in Tokyo Bay to sign the instrument of surrender, aircraft from Intrepid flew in the sky over Shanghai, China, and the surrounding region. Far below the citizens of Shanghai were in the midst of their own victory celebration.  A few Intrepid fighter pilots remember watching as Japanese flags were replaced by American and Chinese flags far below. By the morning of September 3, the Tokyo Bay ceremony was over and Japan’s surrender was official. Yet practically speaking, very little had changed—Intrepid remained on patrol and occupation duty throughout the fall of 1945. Though the war was finally over, the ship and crew were still far from home


Read the previous installments of "This Month in Intrepid's History":

October 1943
November 1943
December 1943
January 1944
February 1944
March 1944
April 1944
May 1944
June 1944
July 1944
August 1944
September 1944
October 1944
November 1944
December 1944
January 1945
February 1945
March 1945
April and May 1945
June and July 1945




News Archive

June 2022(1)
May 2022(1)
April 2022(2)
December 2021(1)
October 2021(1)
September 2021(1)
August 2021(2)
July 2021(1)
June 2021(1)
May 2021(1)
April 2021(2)
March 2021(2)
February 2021(1)
February 2022(5)
January 2021(1)
December 2020(2)
October 2020(4)
September 2020(1)
June 2020(1)
April 2020(5)
February 2020(6)
January 2020(2)
December 2019(3)
November 2019(7)
October 2019(2)
September 2019(2)
August 2019(1)
July 2019(2)
June 2019(1)
May 2019(4)
April 2019(3)
March 2019(1)
February 2019(3)
January 2019(2)
December 2018(5)
November 2018(2)
October 2018(4)
September 2018(7)
August 2018(7)
July 2018(2)
May 2018(5)
April 2018(3)
March 2018(2)
February 2018(6)
January 2018(5)
December 2017(2)
November 2017(3)
October 2017(3)
September 2017(1)
August 2017(6)
July 2017(7)
June 2017(5)
May 2017(10)
April 2017(1)
March 2017(4)
February 2017(9)
January 2017(6)
December 2016(3)
November 2016(5)
October 2016(3)
September 2016(3)
August 2016(3)
July 2016(1)
May 2016(1)
April 2016(4)
March 2016(4)
February 2016(3)
January 2016 (6)
December 2015(5)
November 2015(5)
October 2015(6)
September 2015(9)
August 2015(8)
July 2015(7)
June 2015(7)
May 2015(9)
April 2015(5)
March 2015(5)
February 2015(7)
December 2014(6)
November 2014(5)
October 2014(6)
September 2014(8)
August 2014(7)
July 2014(5)
June 2014(5)
May 2014(9)
April 2014(7)
March 2014(7)
February 2014(5)
January 2014(4)
December 2013(7)
November 2013(8)
October 2013(8)
September 2013(8)
August 2013(9)
July 2013(9)
June 2013(2)
May 2013(2)
March 2013(5)
February 2013(3)
January 2013(6)
December 2012(12)
November 2012(3)
October 2012(1)
September 2012(3)
August 2012(4)
July 2012(2)
june 2012(6)
May 2012(4)
April 2012(7)
March 2012(1)
February 2012(4)
January 2012(1)
December 2011(2)
November 2011(4)
October 2011(2)
September 2011(5)
August 2011(6)
July 2011(6)
June 2011(10)
May 2011(11)
April 2011(10)
March 2011(11)
February 2011(9)
January 2011(6)
December 2010(10)
November 2010(8)
October 2010(5)
September 2010(7)
August 2010(11)
July 2010(9)
June 2010(9)
May 2010(10)
April 2010(5)
March 2010(6)
February 2010(3)
January 2010(3)
December 2009(3)
November 2009(8)
October 2009(3)
September 2009(4)
August 2009(4)
July 2009(11)
June 2009(5)