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Naval History of Missouri

By Cecilia Sequeira, Communication Outreach Division

Missouri, popularly known as the “Show-Me” state, was the 24th state admitted to the Union in 1821– just 46 years after establishment of the U.S. Navy. Named after the longest U.S. river, and the Indian word for “muddy waters,” Missouri has a distinguished naval history. Over 30 ships have been named after the state of Missouri, its cities, places, and people. The state’s namesake and America’s last battleship, the USS Missouri (BB-63) was where Japan formally surrendered to Allied Forces at Tokyo Bay on Sept. 2, 1945. After 50 years of service and three wars, “Mighty Mo” was decommissioned and opened to visitors in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, under the stewardship of the USS Missouri Memorial Association. Carrying her heritage into the future, the USS Missouri (SSN-780), an active submarine, is the third commissioned U.S. Navy ship to be named after the state.

Missouri is also the proud hometown of leaders and heroes such as President Harry S. Truman, Wayne E. Meyer, and John C. England. Harry S. Truman, born in Lamar, Missouri in 1884, served as 33rd U.S. president during World War II. The USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75), commissioned in 1998, was named after him. A prominent naval leader, Wayne E. Meyer, born in Brunswick, Missouri, served in the U.S. Navy for 42 years before retiring as a Rear Admiral in 1985. The USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG-108), commissioned in 2009, was named after his legacy. Missouri native, and distinguished Navy officer, John C. England, was killed in action during the attack on Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941. The USS England (DE-635), commissioned in 1943, was named in his honor.

The search for new naval leadership is always underway in Missouri– home to the St. Louis Navy Recruiting District, which leads over 25 recruiting stations in the state. Several universities in Missouri also host Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) programs. Check out the infographic for more on Missouri’s historical ties to the U.S. Navy.