Final Survivor of Pearl Harbor Ship Dies at 102

( – One of the last living survivors from the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Lou Conter, 102, died at his home in Grass Valley, California, of heart failure.

Conter was the last surviving crew member who served on the USS Arizona that was sunk during the December 7th, 1941, attack.

Conter, a 20-year-old quartermaster when the attack occurred, enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1939 when he was 18. He had just begun his shift as quartermaster when the hull of the USS Arizona was struck at exactly 8:09 a.m. by a 1,760-pound Japanese bomb. Japanese horizontal bombers struck the midship areas of the Arizona. A massive explosion soon occurred on the ship, which caused the ship to burn for 48 hours after the bombing. According to the Naval History and Heritage Command, the bomb did not pierce the ship’s armored deck, and the explosion that followed the bombing has never been explained.

In 2022, Conter told CBS13 during an interview that the ship blew up “about eight minutes, nine minutes” after the ship was bombed. Conter was knocked down by the blast, landing on the deck. He went on to spend almost 35 minutes attempting to secure the quarterdeck, saving the lives of 20 sailors. Conter was one of 335 aboard the Arizona to survive the attack, which killed 2,403 American sailors, soldiers, and civilians, including 1,177 of the Arizona’s crew.

In the days following the attack, Conter joined numerous rescue efforts to recover the bodies of those killed in the attack.

Conter entered flight school after the attack and was a pilot with the Navy Squadron known as the Black Cats. Despite being shot down twice over the Pacific Ocean, Conter survived the war, going to serve as an air intelligence officer in Korea. Once home, he helped establish the Navy’s first Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) program. He was a military adviser to former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, former President John F. Kennedy, and former President Lyndon B. Johnson. After serving for 28 years, Conter retired from the Navy as a lieutenant commander.

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