Ralph Barry
Ralph Barry
Ralph Barry
Ralph Barry
Ralph Barry

Ralph Barry

Story by Mary Kay Gominger

Photos by Sheila Abarr

Marine veteran Ralph Barry remembers with crystal clarity the chain of events that transpired on that historic morning on September 2, 1945, onboard the USS Missouri.

He recalls, “It was an overcast morning and the entire crew was decked out in whites. It was a site to see. We had 103 Admirals and Generals lined up on deck to witness the signing of the peace treaty that ended the War.”

The entire ceremony, complete with representatives from 10 countries, took under 30 minutes, Barry said.

“I remember seeing General McArthur, he was the UN representative, and Admiral Nimitz signed for the United States,” Barry said. “And as soon as everyone had finishing signing the document, the sun broke through the clouds and the skies cleared. It was a great day,” Ralph recalled.

Later that day, Ralph said 450 aircraft flew over the USS Missouri and the rest of the fleet, in celebration of the end of the war.

“It was continual fly bys all afternoon,” Ralph recalled with a laugh. “All types of aircraft, from Kingfisher’s to B29s – they roared over us all afternoon. And that first night, when the entire fleet lit up for the first time, it was just a spectacular sight.”

Ralph joined the Marine Corps in 1940. He was part of the anti-aircraft battery while onboard the USS Missouri. He and his crew of 100 Marines shot down 35 kamikazi attacks to the USS Missouri.

After the festivities, the USS Missouri made a stop at Guam on the way back to Pearl Harbor, then made a stop at Norfolk where they installed the official surrender plaque on deck. Next stop - New York City.

“We were docked in New York City for six weeks. President Truman came aboard and it was non-stop tours and liberty at night for the crew,” Barry said.

Barry ended up staying in the Marine Corps for 22 years and after he retired he went to work in Philadelphia, right down the road from the original Naval Home, when it was still in operation.

“Yeah, I remember that place. I used to drive by it all the time,” Barry said. In 1976, it was moved to Gulfport.

Barry has been a resident at AFRH for 18 months and was familiar with the home as he had a brother that lived here back in the early 70s. His brother was career Army and is buried in the cemetery across the street from AFRH.

From 1981-1989, Barry was very active in the USS Missouri reunion group. He served as President for several years and was instrumental in having the deck surrender plaque on the USS Missouri replaced as it had become worn and tattered.

“We used the same cast but we put this one up at an angle so it is more on display and it’s not part of the deck,” Barry said. “It will last a lot longer this way.”

Ralph Barry has a very interesting story to tell about his time in the Marines and the events he witnessed as World War II came to an end. Now, he enjoys relaxing and talking with fellow residents he has met since joining the AFRH. They go out in town for dinner about one night a week and enjoy swapping stories and enjoying retirement.