On April 11, 1945, as the last major battle of World War II raged, the USS Missouri was struck by a Japanese "Zeke" aircraft in waters northeast of Okinawa.
There was fire, quickly extinguished, but no bomb exploded and no American lives were lost. Within the wreckage, crew members aboard the USS Missouri found the body of the Japanese pilot, and in a singular act of human compassion, the officers and crew of Missouri gathered the remains, prepared a Japanese flag, and the next morning they paused briefly to pay respect to their enemy. They stood at attention and offered a hand-salute. A Marine honor guard fired a three-rifle volley, the bugler played "Taps", and the ship's Chaplain said: "Commend his body to the deep."
"Buster" Campbell captured this dramatic image and others during the Battle for Okinawa. The photograph has been reprinted and published countless times in the decades since. It is often identified by its National Archives catalog number 80-G-315811 and recognized simply as a "US Navy photo". The wartime diary, letters and photograph collection of "Buster" Campbell reveal that he was the photographer of the famous image. Campbell, a ship's baker, "moonlighted" with the official photographers of the USS Missouri whenever he had the opportunity. He was never formally acknowledged as the photographer of this image by his own wish. Photo # K11 in the collections of the USS Missouri Memorial Association.
"Buster" Campbell's Account
Captain Roland W. Faulk's Account
Kamikaze Image Gallery