Last remaining USS Arizona survivors recall Pearl Harbor attack
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - There are only five men still alive who were assigned to the USS Arizona on Dec. 7, 1941.
And on Tuesday, four of them -- all now in their 90s -- came together to talk about the harrowing day.
The four who made the trek to Honolulu for the 75th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack are: 96-year-old Lauren Bruner of Washington; 94-year-old Don Stratton, of Nebraska; 95-year-old Ken Potts, of Utah; and 95-year-old Lou Conter, of Wisconsin.
At 7:55 a.m. on Dec. 7, when the attack started, all but one of the men was on board the USS Arizona.
Potts was on shore when the attack began, loading up a boat with fresh produce for the Arizona's storerooms.
That morning, the ship took four direct-hits from Japanese planes. It was one of the most heavily damaged of all the vessels in Battleship Row and sustained the most casualties by far -- 1,177 USS Arizona sailors and Marines were killed in the attack.
"When they said abandon ship," Potts said, "the ones that was on deck got into a boat and was taken around the stern of the Arizona onto Ford Island."
Stratton added, "I don't know how I made it but I'm here."
The USS Arizona and other naval ships continued to burn for days. It wasn't until eight or nine days after the attack, Conter said, that crews were able to access parts of the ship to bring bodies out.
"We sacrificed 1,177 men on that ship," Stratton said, "and I was one of the lucky ones to get off."
Conter added, "We came home, got married, had children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and lived a big life. They lost theirs immediately and they're the ones that should be called the heroes."
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