Nightly News | September 02, 2010
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: Finally tonight, it was 65 years ago today that World War II officially came to a close. Japan signed the instrument of surrender on board the USS Missouri . It was anchored in Tokyo Bay . It changed the world, and it was witnessed in person by very few men. Even fewer of them are still alive, just a handful. I happened to meet one of them in New Orleans last weekend, but tonight we meet another one. He witnessed the signing, and today he went back for what he knows will be his last visit. His remarkable story of making a difference, and those who are now doing that for him from NBC 's Lee Cowan in Pearl Harbor .
Offscreen Voice: It is Sunday, September 2nd , 1945 .
LEE COWAN reporting: The weight of history on the Missouri that day was so heavy, it's a wonder she wasn't listing.
Voice: General MacArthur signs as supreme Allied commander.
COWAN: Her decks were crammed with those anxious to watch the Japanese surrender , and up front was one lucky sailor, Frank Borrell . You were that close to it?
Mr. FRANK BORRELL: Yeah.
COWAN: Sixty-five years may have taken their toll, but not Frank's memory.
Mr. BORRELL: And we were throwing stuff all around on the deck. The only trouble is, we had to clean it up the next day. And that was that. We had a ball.
COWAN: Most of his shipmates, though, have lost their battle with age, and now it's Frank's turn. At 94, he learned he has terminal cancer.
Ms. BORRELL: I know I'm going to die. I don't know when. But when the man upstairs wants me, I'm going to go, and that's it.
COWAN: The only thing he asked was to see the Missouri one last time, a seemingly impossible wish.
Mr. BORRELL: There she is.... Look at that sucker.
COWAN: ...that suddenly came true. Frank made it just in time for this morning's 65th anniversary ceremony, back on deck on his fighting lady.
Mr. BORRELL: It's a godsend for me to see her one more time. Now I'm happy now.
COWAN: It was the work of the Dream Foundation , like Make- A-Wish but for adults. It afforded him the chance to not only be back on the decks he walked as a young sailor, but to stand once more at the spot where the world breathed a sigh of relief. But being here on these decks where the war ended back at Pearl Harbor where the war started was just part of Frank's journey. Frank also came to say goodbye to his wife's brother, killed aboard the USS Arizona , souls who never got a chance to grow old like Frank did, which, he says, is why he's ready.
Mr. BORRELL: So if I die tomorrow or this afternoon, it wouldn't bother me a bit.
COWAN: No regrets?
Mr. BORRELL: No regrets. No. I lived a good life. I had two nice kids. What more can I ask for?
COWAN: And what more could a nation ask of him? Lee Cowan, NBC News, Pearl Harbor .
WILLIAMS: That is why a friend of mine famously called them the greatest generation. They were,