Oldest Pearl Harbor Survivor, Lou Conter, Dies at 102

Oldest Pearl Harbor Survivor, Lou Conter, Dies at 102

(DailyDig.com) – The last survivor from the battleship USS Arizona, Lou Conter, died at 102 years old on April 2. A Japanese bomb hit the battleship in Pearl Harbor, causing it to explode and sink.

After experiencing heart failure, Conter died at home in Grass Valley, CA. Louann Daley, his daughter, said that she and her two brothers, Jeff and James, were with him at the time.

At 7:55 a.m. on December 7, 1941, the USS Arizona saw 1,177 marines and sailors perish during the attack that began WWII. The battleship suffered almost half of the losses on that day in Pearl Harbor.

Conter, a quartermaster, was standing on deck at the beginning of the attack. As the sailors began to raise the flag, the bombs started dropping. He recalled in his autobiography, “The Lou Conter Story,” that one bomb struck the battleship after 13 minutes from the start of the battle. The bomb ignited over one million pounds of gunpowder inside the ship.

The explosion sent the ship nearly forty feet into the air, engulfing the front of the battleship in flames. Troops were attempting to dash to the railings and leap over the ship’s side. Burning oil blanketed the waters. The uninjured survivors were assisting the severely burned men, many of whom had suffered blindness. According to Conter, they all abandoned Arizona as ordered by the surviving senior officer when he saw that all the men who were alive were rescued.

The president of Pacific Historic Parks, Aileen Utterdyke, stated that the loss of Conter was heartbreaking. He epitomized the accomplishments, courage, and sacrifices of one of the “Greatest Generation” of Americans. They saved us from tyranny. He had a great 28-year Navy career and was involved in the annual ceremonies at Pearl Harbor. She said that he implored parents of children, schools, and all Americans to always remember what happened on that day in Pearl Harbor.

Survivors include Conter’s son, Tony; stepson, Ron; and many grand and great-grandchildren.

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