Only two USS Arizona survivors remain

Arizona crew
Photo credit Photo by Lucas Carter/The American Legion
By Connecting Vets

Ken Potts vividly remembers where he was the morning of Dec. 7, 1941.

Potts, who is a member of American Legion Post 13 in Provo, Utah, was bringing fresh produce to the USS Arizona when the first Japanese bombers began their attack on Pearl Harbor. When he arrived, the ship was already on fire, but that didn’t stop him from climbing aboard and rescuing some of his shipmates.

“I don’t remember ever being afraid. I don’t think I had time to think about being afraid,” Potts told the Provo Daily Herald in 2018.

The death of Don Stratton on Feb. 16 makes Potts and Lou Conter the last living members of the Arizona crew. Stratton was 97 when he passed away peacefully last month. 

According to a National Park Service Facebook post, Stratton and five other sailors were in the Arizona’s burning forward mast following the Dec. 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor when a sailor from the Vestal threw them a line.

“He crawled hand over hand, high above the water to safety, being burned over 70 percent of his body,” the post reads.

Despite his injuries, Stratton continued his miliary service until 1946.

“People call us heroes,” Conter,   a member of American Legion Post 130 in the Department of California, said at a 75th-anniversary event commemorating the attack in 2016. “We’re not the heroes. The 1,177 who went down with the ship are the heroes. You have to remember we got to go home, get married, have children and grandchildren, and we’ve lived a good life. Those who didn’t get to do that should be called the heroes.”  

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Reach Julia LeDoux: Julia@connectingvets.com
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