Pearl Harbor Survivor and Last Remaining USS Arizona Sailer Dead at 102

( – April 1, 2024, marked the death of the last remaining survivor who was aboard the USS Arizona when it sank during Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. Lou Conter was in hospice for congestive heart failure and died at home with his family by his side at the age of 102.

The Associated Press reported that Conter was a quartermaster on the Arizona. He was standing on the ship’s main deck at around 7:55 a.m. on December 7, 1941, as Japanese planes began flying overhead, according to the AP. The attack began just as sailors were raising the flag on the ship.

Conter recalled in his autobiography that one of the bombs went through the decks, which were made of steel, just 13 minutes after the battle began. He said the bomb “set off more than one million pounds of gunpowder stored below.” The attack killed 1,177 sailors and Marines on the ship and marked the beginning of the United States’ direct involvement in World War II. Half of the soldiers killed that day were on the USS Arizona. Conter and other survivors joined together to help the injured, staying on the ship until the most senior officer aboard confirmed that everyone who was still alive had been rescued.

Conter suffered no injuries during the attack. He then trained as a pilot and began flying PBY patrol bombers, which were used to take out enemy targets and search for submarines. Conter was part of a squadron called “Black Cats,” which carried out dive bomb missions during the night in black-painted planes. In 1943, he found himself avoiding a shark attack while floating in the ocean off New Guinea after his plane was shot down. He encouraged members of his crew to remain calm and focus on survival.

Conter went on to serve as a military adviser to Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Lyndon Johnson. Most Americans who served in World War II are at least in their 90s. Less than one percent of the over 16 million who fought in the war are still alive today, according to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.

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