September marks 71st anniversary of end of WWII; WI man 1 of just 2 remaining witnesses to surrender

NEW LISBON -- September marks the 71st anniversary of the end of World War II -- and a Wisconsin man is one of only two remaining witnesses to the official surrender.

91-year-old Otto Wilkinson of New Lisbon was a sailor who served on the USS Missouri.

That's the battleship where Japanese leaders officially signed documents announcing its unconditional surrender -- formally ending World War II.

Wilkinson said he still remembers the day -- especially when General Douglas MacArthur, the supreme commander of the Allied Forces came aboard the ship.

"I was a fireman down in the room. Number 3 was the number of my engine room. He came aboard. I was on the top side, and he was on the destroyer. Came aboard from the destroyer, over on the right side of the ship," Wilkinson said.

Wilkinson was 20 years old when the surrender took place.

While there were 2,700 people on the ship at the time, Wilkinson is one of only two people who are still alive.