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The Only Color Footage of the Japanese Surrender in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945

Aboard the USS Missouri 77 years ago, Admiral “Bull” Halsey’s Fleet “Aerologist” (Navy-speak for meteorologist) borrowed a camera and shot the only color footage of the Japanese Surrender in Tokyo Bay.

On September 2, 1945, Commander George F. Kosco borrowed a camera from Chief Petty Officer (and Hollywood actor) Leif Erickson. Then, he took a perch on the Navigation Deck of the USS Missouri and shot the only color footage of the ceremonial surrender on deck. For 65 years, the film sat in storage, unseen. Then, Commander Kosco’s son, Colonel William Kosco, started work on restoring the historic footage. In 2020, Bill Kosco joined VBC Happy Hour two years ago to talk about his restoration efforts and his father’s wide-ranging career.

Here are just a few remarkable photos and artifacts that Bill shared with us from his father’s collection. Check out the items from the “Victory Dinner” on August 16, the day after the Japanese first signaled their surrender. “Soup a la Hirohito” and “U.S. Victory Cake” are two of the celebratory dishes served.
The photo of the staff discussion with Japanese officers about safe navigation in Tokyo Bay reminds me of the many former sailors who’ve told me over the years that one of the most frightening moments of the war was being piloted into Tokyo Bay by Japanese harbor masters. These veterans said they didn’t trust the enemy to guide them safely and were sure they would be led into a mine. Only when safely anchored did these American sailors realize the war was truly over.

Photo 1: Adm W. F. Halsey, 3rd Fleet Commander, with his Fleet Aerologist and Navigator, Commander George F. Kosco; Photo 2: The 16 August 1945 Victory Dinner attendees and menu; Photo 3: Prior to 27 August, Adm Halsey’s staff discussing entry unit information and safe approaches to Tokyo Harbor with Japanese officers; Photo 4. Official 3rd Fleet Communique that surrender documents have been signed.

You can watch the whole VBC Happy Hour episode with Bill Kosco here:

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