March 29, 1999
by Marshall Haley
Lifelong Woodinville resident Sean Fierst never imagined that his broadcasting career would lead to a job on the ship where Japan surrendered to Allied Forces, ending World War II. But if you visit the USS Missouri in Honolulu, Fierst could be your tour guide.
"It didn't hit me until I stepped onto the deck of the ship where President Truman and General MacArthur walked, people I read about in school. Being next to the Arizona Memorial, where it all began, where people died, you can't help but get emotional," Fierst said.
"One of the more touching stories is about a Japanese kamikaze pilot who crashed his plane into the side of the Missouri. You can still see the dent. The next day, the captain gave [the pilot] a burial with full military honors, very uncommon for an enemy. He said any man willing to die for his country in that way deserves to be honored," Fierst added.
After graduating from Woodinville High in 1992, where he played football for the Falcons, Fierst earned a broadcast journalism degree at Washington State University. He has the distinction of being the first Cougar football play-by-play announcer for the WSU radio station.
Fierst's migration to Hawaii started in Portland, where he worked for Northwest Cable News after graduating from WSU. There he met his girlfriend, a Hawaiian native. After they moved to Hawaii last November, Fierst applied for jobs at several local television stations. He saw the tour guide ad on the Internet. The remodeled Missouri was due to open to the public on Jan. 30, 1999. He applied and was hired, later turning down television offers.
"I always wanted a job that I would be excited to wake up every morning and go to," said Fierst. "There are so many stories to tell and so many places to visit on the ship. Over 2,000 people lived there. It's huge, longer than the Titanic. Kids can sit on the captain's chair, overlooking the ocean, and play with the actual controls. Seeing the thousands of volunteers working to restore the ship, I feel unworthy to have a salary."
"Sean's made all of us excited about the Missouri being here," said Charlene Peters, his girlfriend's mother.
"It's really important that the generations to follow know what this ship is all about," said retired Vice Admiral Robert Kihune, president of the Missouri Memorial Association. "Young guys like Sean help make the experience memorable."