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WWII Captain, Suicide Pilot Honored

April 13, 2001|From Associated Press

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii — Americans and Japanese gathered Thursday on the deck of a U.S. battleship hit by a kamikaze attack 56 years ago to honor the captain who gave the suicide pilot an honorable burial at sea.

The ceremonies aboard the Missouri also memorialized the kamikaze pilot for his bravery and dedication to his country.

"Who is to truly know what the captain was thinking as he stared at the broken body of the enemy lying on the ship?" said Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii), the keynote speaker at the tribute.

Attack survivors joined in honoring the late captain, William M. Callaghan, for his unusual gesture.

The pilot died on April 11, 1945, when his plane carried a 500-pound bomb into the 887-foot dreadnought during the Battle of Okinawa. The bomb did not detonate.

Callaghan, over the objections of some of his crew, ordered a traditional burial at sea with military honors for the pilot the next day.

Volunteers narrowed the possible identities of the pilot to three: Petty Officers 2nd Class Takashi Sogabe and Setsuo Ishino, and Lt. j.g. Shigeju Yaguchi.

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