For first time, Pearl Harbor remembrance takes place without a single USS Arizona survivor present


Just before 8 a.m. local time Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese warplanes shattered the Sunday quiet at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. It was an attack on the United States that would soon thrust the country into World War II.

Despite a radiogram that was urgently pushed to all U.S. military in the area (“AIRRAID ON PEARLHARBOR X THIS IS NO DRILL”), the surprise attack destroyed or damaged more than a dozen American ships and hundreds of aircraft.

More than 2,400 Americans were killed. But it was the USS Arizona that suffered the greatest human loss: Of the 1,512 on board at the time, only about 300 survived. The ship rests, sunken, at the bottom of the harbor — along with the remains of hundreds of victims.

Over the decades, those who escaped the USS Arizona before it sank have been a fixture at memorials and events marking the attack, a day which has indeed lived in infamy.

But on Friday, for the first time in more than seven decades, there were no survivors from the USS Arizona present when officials commemorated the 77th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.

There are now only five USS Arizona survivors alive: Lauren Bruner, 98; Lou Conter, 97; Lonnie Cook, 98; Ken Potts, 97; and Don Stratton, 96.

None was able to travel to Oahu this year, the Associated Press reported.

The USS Arizona wasn’t supposed to be at Pearl Harbor, but it became America’s most famous battleship
The Arizona Republic in 2014 visited all remaining USS Arizona survivors — there were nine still alive at the time — and published extensive interviews with the aging veterans. What emerged were moving stories and remembrances of an attack that had altered their lives.

Most could still recall vivid details about that Sunday morning, though a few, even decades later, could not bring themselves to talk about their fellow shipmates who hadn’t escaped.

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