CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — For the last 11 years, Annette Marz has tried to solve a mystery about a famous piece of history that found its way to the Coastal Bend.
Hanging on a wall in one of her bedrooms, is a copy of theJapanese Instrument of Surrender. Yes, it's a copy of the document that was signed by representatives from the Allied powers and Japan on September 2, 1945 to formally end World War II.
As the story goes, Annette’s father Gerry Ives served in the Navy at the end of the war aboard the USS California. After surviving a kamikaze attack in January of 1945, the ship docked in Okinawa. The crew just heard about Japan’s surrender. The California would remain in port from August 23 to September 20, awaiting further orders.
Gerry Ives was almost 1,000 miles away from that historic signing of the Instrument of Surrender which happened aboard a different ship in Tokyo Bay, Japan - the USS Missouri.
So how did he get his hands on a copy of that document, and how did it end up in Corpus Christi?
And how did it actually survive a fire at the family’s Washington state home before Annette was born?
Annette remembers the many stories her father told her family about the war - the kamikaze survival and so on, but not once did he mention the Instrument of Surrender.
“He never shared it with anyone,” said Annette.
Her mother stumbled upon it in a closet at their home in Washington after Gerry died 11 years ago.
So she gave it to Annette, who lives with her husband in Corpus Christi.
“Here was this rolled piece of paper,” recalled Annette. “She (her mother) had no idea … no idea whatsoever. How you can be married for that long and never find it.
He must have thought he wasn’t supposed to have it. “
I showed the document to Kurk Dorsey, World War II expert and Professor at the University of New Hampshire. Dorsey believes the document is a legitimate copy of the Instrument of Surrender.
“If you look at the original documents you see online, there are different colors … a lot of them signed with blue ink. These are in black - perhaps mimeograph that somebody ran off after the signing happened,” said Dorsey. “So maybe it was September third or fourth - a couple days after.”
As to how Gerry got his hands on a copy of this key marker of the end of WWII, is anyone’s guess.
“Everything from … it could’ve just been a favor that he did it,” wondered Dorsey. “Maybe an officer said ‘would you like to have it’ … and I even jokingly wonder if he won it in a poker game or something like that.”
“Maybe he stole it,” a laughing Annette quipped.
In the end, the mystery of this piece of what’s now become family history will remain unsolved. That’s perhaps just the way Gerry wanted it.
“It was his little treasure or secret or whatever it was I don’t know,” said Annette.
“It’s the best kept Ives’ secret.”
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