WWII vet reflects on 75th anniversary of Japan's surrender on Tokyo Bay
Wednesday marks 75 years since the Japanese surrendered on Tokyo Bay during World War II, and one Long Islander was there to witness the event.
Donato Anthony DeFilippis, of North Babylon, was one of 3,000 U.S. Navy soldiers on board the USS Missouri to witness the official end of the war. At the age of 18, he was a firsthand witness to history and now at 95 he can still remember exactly where he was on Sept. 2, 1945.
"It was the most amazing thing of my life," says DeFilippis. "There were all dignitaries from other countries. There were presidents from other countries. It was very jubilant to see it all."
DeFilippis has saved and cherished memorabilia from many years ago when he served, including a book that is an original from the USS Missouri and a card that he still carries with him to this day. The card was given to all service members who witnessed the ceremony, and DeFilippis has kept it in his wallet for more than seven decades.
"To me it meant a lot because I was proud to have witnessed the signing of the peace treaty," says DeFilippis. "I knew it was going to be something tremendous."
DiFilippis is one of only 10 service members remaining that were on board the ship, and he will be honored by having his photo displayed on the USS Missouri in Hawaii at a remembrance ceremony.
DeFilippis planned on attending the ceremony in Hawaii, but due to the pandemic he was unable to travel.