One of three remaining survivors of the USS Arizona dies at 97

Elizabeth Howe
February 18, 2020 - 9:08 am
Donald Stratton

US Navy

Donald Stratton, one of the last three survivors from the crew of the USS Arizona, died on Feb. 15 with his wife of 69 years, Velma, and his son Randy by his side. The family announced in a Facebook post that Donald "passed away peacefully."

“One of Donald’s final wishes was that people remember Pearl Harbor and the men aboard the USS Arizona,” the Facebook post read. “Share their story and never forget those who gave all for our great country.”

Stratton was born July 14, 1922, in Nebraska and joined the Navy in 1940. Mere months later, he was aboard the USS Arizona.

Stratton was a seaman first class aboard the USS Arizona when it was attacked at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. During the attack, the 19-year-old sailor sustained burns to 70 percent of his body — but he "never thought about not making it," he wrote in his memoir, "All the Gallant Men." 

“My T-shirt had caught fire, burning my arms and my back. My legs were burned from my ankles to my thighs. My face was seared. The hair on my head had been singed off, and part of my ear was gone," Stratton wrote.

Stratton was medically discharged from the U.S. Navy following the attack — but reenlisted a year later and served throughout the duration of the war in the Pacific.

While Pearl Harbor survivors can choose to be interred underwater with the remains of the wreckage and their fellow sailors, Stratton asked to be buried with his family in his hometown of Red Cloud, Nebraska. The flag over the USS Arizona Memorial will be flown at half staff in honor of Stratton's life and service. 

USS Arizona Memorial
National Park Service

Only two survivors from the crew of the USS Arizona remain — Lou Conter from Grass Valley, California and Ken Potts from Provo, Utah are both 98 years old.

The Dec. 7, 1941 attack killed 1,177 of the USS Arizona's crew members. 

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