John R. Duffy, a retired Baltimore police officer and Navy veteran who witnessed the Japanese surrender that ended World War II, died Wednesday of a heart attack at Ivy Hall nursing home in Middle River.
The longtime Perry Hall resident was 87.
The son of a Baltimore police officer and a homemaker, John Robert Duffy was born in Baltimore and raised on Linwood Avenue near Patterson Park.
After graduating in 1944 from Patterson High School, Mr. Duffy entered the Navy. He was assigned to the battleship USS Missouri, where he was a gunner's mate and coxswain.
He spent his entire naval career aboard the "Mighty Mo," and fought in major battles, including Iwo Jima, Okinawa and the bombardment of the Japanese home islands.
"He remembered the day when a Japanese kamikaze crashed his plane into the ship in 1945," said his daughter, Michelle Duffy Orr of Reisterstown.
"He said there were 40 or 45 men on deck when it happened, and he helped put out the fire, secure the ship, and pull out the pilot's body before the plane was pushed in to the sea," said Ms. Orr.
Mr. Duffy was part of the crew that was ordered to prepare the table on which the Japanese surrender was signed Sept. 2, 1945, as the Missouri rode at anchor in Tokyo Bay.
"He was part of the staging and could see the entire surrender where he stood on an upper deck," his daughter said. "And when it was all over, he helped dismantle it."
When asked about his naval service, Mr. Duffy would say that he was proud and that it was "his duty," according to his daughter.
Discharged in 1946, Mr. Duffy returned to Baltimore, where he joined the city Police Department in 1950. After walking a beat for a year or so, he joined the department's marine unit, where he was a sergeant at his retirement in 1983.
He then spent the next eight years working for Vane Brothers, the ship chandlery, delivering food and fuel to ships anchored in the port of Baltimore. He retired a second time in 1991.
"He always loved being around the water because his parents had a house on the water in eastern Baltimore County," said Ms. Orr.
Mr. Duffy enjoyed water sports, reading and listening to music.
"He liked all kinds of music," his daughter said.
A Mass of Christian burial will be held at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday at St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church, 103 Church Lane, Cockeysville.
In addition to his daughter, Mr. Duffy is survived by his wife of 63 years, the former Dorothy Wagner; a sister, Phyllis Duffy Jones of Fredericksburg, Va.; and several nieces and nephews.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun