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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Final USS Arizona Survivor from Pearl Harbor Assault, Lou Conter, Passes Away at 102


HONOLULU ⁢— The ‌last remaining ​survivor of the USS Arizona, the naval warship ​that was‍ tragically⁣ sunk during the unexpected Japanese assault on Pearl Harbor, Lou Conter, has passed away at the age‍ of 102. The attack resulted in the loss of ⁣1,177 lives.

Conter spent his final moments surrounded by loved ones ‍at his residence in Grass Valley, California. His peaceful passing‌ on​ Monday was confirmed by Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and Pacific Historic Parks, quoting Conter’s daughter, Louann Daley.

Conter dedicated his life to ensuring the public never ‌forgot the⁣ devastating⁢ bombing. Through interviews, a ⁢published book, and by attending memorial services, he kept the memory of the attack alive. The bombing had ‌catapulted the battleship 30-40 feet out of the water, leaving many survivors with severe injuries.

As a 20-year-old quartermaster, Conter ⁣played a ⁢crucial role⁢ in rescuing his fellow crewmen on the fateful morning of Dec.‌ 7, 1941. This‍ event⁢ marked ⁤the ‌U.S.’s ‌entry into World⁣ War II.

In⁤ his ‍autobiography, “The Lou Conter Story: From USS Arizona Survivor to Unsung American Hero,” Conter recounted the horrifying moment when​ a Japanese armor-piercing bomb hit one million pounds of ⁤gunpowder stored in ‍the ship’s hull. He was on the USS Arizona deck at ⁤the time.

Conter shared his harrowing experiences with CNN ​affiliate KCRA ⁣in an interview⁣ last year. “Guys were‌ coming out of⁤ the fire, and we were just grabbing them and laying them down,” he said. “They were real bad. You​ would pick them ⁣up by the bodies,‍ and the skin would come off your hands.”

The attack lasted for an hour and 15 minutes, claiming the lives of approximately 2,400 US service members​ and civilians, and injuring over 1,100 people, as per a National WWII Museum‌ facts report ‍and other sources.

Conter was one of the 335 Arizona crew⁤ members who survived the attack. He outlived them all, including Ken Potts, the second to the‍ last⁤ survivor, ​who passed away last ⁤year ‍in Provo, at age 102, as‌ reported by‌ Pacific Historic Parks, which supports the USS Arizona Memorial and other ⁣sites.

Aileen Utterdyke, president and CEO of⁤ Pacific Historic Parks, expressed her sorrow over ⁣Conter’s passing.⁢ “This is a heartbreaking loss,” she said. “Lou Conter embodied the spirit⁤ of the Greatest Generation, a group of Americans ⁤whose collective bravery, achievements, and sacrifices ⁢saved our nation from ‍oppression.”

Utterdyke praised Conter’s distinguished Navy career and his commitment to reminding schools, parents, and everyday Americans to always remember ‍Pearl Harbor. Funeral arrangements for the veteran are currently pending, the organization said.

Following the Pearl​ Harbor attack, Conter’s military service​ expanded, and he became a VP-11 Black Cat pilot, as stated ‍by Pacific Historic Parks. The Black Cats conducted‌ operations under the cover of ⁢darkness, ⁢hidden from enemy ships.

Conter flew⁤ several ⁤missions with the Black Cats and survived two shootdowns during World War II, including one off the coast of ⁢New Guinea where‍ the crew was⁣ surrounded by sharks, according to ​Pacific Historic Parks.

After World War II, Conter​ transitioned into an intelligence officer role, flying combat missions in Korea. He was highly respected in the military ⁤intelligence ‍community and was ‍instrumental in creating the Navy’s‍ first survival, evasion, resistance, and escape program, according to the National WWII ​Museum in New Orleans.

Conter also served as a⁤ military adviser to Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon B. Johnson, as reported by Pacific Historic Parks.

After 28 years of dedicated service, Conter retired in​ December 1967, according to the National WWII Museum.

When Conter turned 100, he pinned the pilot ⁢wings he’d earned in⁢ World War II on his 29-year-old great-nephew, U.S. Marine Capt. Ray Daniel Hower.‍ Although Conter was unable⁤ to attend the​ ceremony, Hower⁢ acknowledged in his keynote speech ⁤that the freedom, opportunity, and prosperity we enjoy today would ⁢not be possible without Conter’s service and heroism.

Conter was born in northern Wisconsin in 1921 and was the middle child ⁣in his family, according to the National WWII Museum. Conter and his family lived⁢ in New Mexico, ⁤Denver, and⁢ Kansas. He enlisted in the Navy just after‌ his 18th birthday.

Despite his ‌heroic actions, Conter remained humble. “They call a lot of us⁢ heroes, and I’ve always said ⁣we are not the heroes,” Conter told‌ KCRA last year. “Heroes are the ones right there that​ day that ​lost their lives. They gave⁣ everything up. We ‌got​ back‍ to⁤ the‌ States. We got​ married. We had ‍kids and grandkids.⁤ We are still here. They were‍ lost ⁢forever right then and there.”

Truth Media Network
Truth Media Network
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