Mighty Mo history preserved by volunteers

By Cynthia Thurlow.

Rich Costick has been a volunteer with the Missouri since 2008.

Rich Costick gives visitors an intimate history of the USS Missouri. The former fire protection supervisor in the Air Force knows where significant events took place on the ship: where a Japanese kamikaze pilot crashed, where artillery hit and what damage was done.

“The history has to be told,” Costick said.

Costick has been on Ford Island for about five years. He was a volunteer with the Aviation Museum before he volunteered for the Missouri.

The Vietnam War-era Veteran said, “I’m basically retired … So, just to keep myself busy, I figured I’d volunteer right here.”

Costick is passionate about the history of World War II.

“You have to embrace the history and say, ‘Now it’s time to move on.”

Costick said volunteers have included scouts, and former military workers, Rhodes Scholars, and Canadian community service people – anyone can volunteer, all that is needed is the desire to help.

Each year about 5,000 volunteers donate their time to help preserve the history of the Missouri, said Kevin Williamson, the director of volunteers.

He also said that the volunteer program began before the ship came to Hawaii. The program began when the USS Missouri Memorial Association was formed in 1994. It included volunteers, local businesses and military leaders whose efforts brought the Mighty Mo to Pearl Harbor.

The director said no training is necessary to become a volunteer unless you become a tour guide like Costick, who has been a volunteer with the Missouri since 2008.

William said, “To become a tour guide you shadow a tour guide for a few weeks learning how to do the tours; study the tour guidebook; then you take a test to see if you have learned everything.”

Costick fits the bill perfectly. He is a sponge. Just ask him about the various military campaigns the Mighty Mo has witnessed. Like an historian, he can transport you back to any of the events that took place on board the ship.

One can almost hear the chatter of military personnel and the press who crowded the turrets and nearly every inch of the ship as Mamoru Shigemitsu, former Japan minister of foreign affairs, signed the instrument of surrender at Tokyo Bay.

Costick said that it is the military personnel who matter most.

He speaks with reverence of the care, grace and dignity with which the Missouri’s crew treated the kamikaze pilot’s body, as they took him below decks to the hospital; fashioned a Japanese rising sun flag so he could be fashioned under his countries own flag; and dressed and made him ready for burial.

“It’s their story that we’re trying to tell,” he said. “We want to get it right. We want history to be correctly reflected.”

Volunteer Opportunities at the Pearl Harbor Memorials

Ford Island

For volunteer opportunities with the U.S.S. Missouri, contact the USS Memorial Association at (808) 455-1600, ext. 224 or e-mail; or contact Friends of the Mighty Mo Program at (808) 455-1600, ext. 244 or e-mail visit

Pacific Aviation Museum – contact Loretta K. Fung, Tour/Volunteer Coordinator at (808) 441-1008. Also, check out the Web site at for a list of museum volunteer opportunities, volunteer procedures and an application.

Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor Memorial Fund – Volunteers meet at the Visitor Center of the USS Arizona memorial at Pearl Harbor and meet and greet visitors. Volunteers also stand along side Pearl Survivors, distribute literature and collect donations. Contact the Pearl Harbor Memorial Fund in Hawaii at (808) 487-3327 or Toll free at (1) (866) DEC-1941 (866-332-1941) or e-mail