Last Surviving Witness of Japanese Surrender in WWII Speaks for Pearl Harbor

Washington, DC -- The last living American to witness the Japanese surrender aboard the USS Missouri that ended World War II will lay a wreath on Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. This survivor, Captain Robert K. Kaufman USN (Ret.), will give special remarks at the United States Navy Memorial in honor of those who fell on December 7, 1941.

Guests will also have an opportunity to see performances from the US Navy Ceremonial Guard and Navy Band. This event is hosted by the United States Navy Memorial and is free and open to the public.  

National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day Wreath Laying Ceremony
Date: Thursday, December 7
Time: 1:00pm-2:00pm
Location: US Navy Memorial Plaza
701 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington DC, 20004

These programs are part of an ongoing effort by the Navy Memorial to promote public understanding and appreciation of the history and culture of the Sea Services.

Meet the Guest Speaker: Captain Robert K. Kaufman, USN (Ret.)
Robert Kenneth Kaufman was accepted to the United States Naval Academy in 1936 and is a proud member of the Class of 1940. He was assigned to the USS Wichita CA-45, where he participated in numerous convoy escort duties in the North Atlantic, protecting allied ships from German U-boats and Luftwaffe air attacks. He participated in Operation Torch - the invasion of North Africa aboard the Wichita - before being granted his wish to attend submarine school. Upon departing the USS Wichita, he completed submarine school and was assigned to the USS Gato SS-212.

Kaufman sailed into harm’s way against the Empire of Japan while aboard the USS Gato.  His leadership and conduct on the USS Gato and his time on the USS Wichita caught the attention of his superiors. After five war patrols, Kaufman was ordered to serve as the Aide and Flag Lieutenant to Admiral Charles A. Lockwood, Jr.

Admiral Lockwood was assigned as the Commander, Submarines, Pacific Fleet, and it was with this assignment that Flag Lieutenant Kaufman would be given the opportunity to witness the end of World War Two. “We went to the Missouri and witnessed the Ceremony... In the deck log of the Missouri for the Second of September 1945...there is a list of all of the visitors and I am the last one on that list,” he recalled. Kaufman’s service would not conclude on the deck of the USS Missouri BB-63. He served in a number of command roles, including Executive Officer of the USS Razorback SS-394 and the USS Requin SS-481 and as the Captain of the USS Sirago SS-485 and the USS Hermitage LSD-34.

The United States Navy Memorial’s mission is to Honor, Recognize, and Celebrate the men and women of the Sea Services – past, present, and future; and to Inform the public about their service. For more information,  please visit

Megan Thomas