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Last survivor of Pearl Harbor battleship sinking dies

Lou Conter was the last surviving crew member from the Japanese attack on the USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor in 1941
Lou Conter was the last surviving crew member from the Japanese attack on the USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor in 1941 - Copyright AFP Maher AL MOUNES
Lou Conter was the last surviving crew member from the Japanese attack on the USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor in 1941 - Copyright AFP Maher AL MOUNES

The last survivor of the USS Arizona, the battleship that was sunk in the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, has died aged 102, the charity honoring victims of the attack said Monday.

Lou Conter was a 20-year-old quartermaster who helped rescue fellow sailors on December 7, 1941, after the United States’ Pacific fleet came under surprise attack.

The assault, which catapulted the United States into World War II, damaged or destroyed most of the fleet stationed at the Hawaii naval base and resulted in the deaths of more than 2,000 Americans.

Over 1,100 people aboard the USS Arizona died; many of them are still entombed on the sunken ship.

“This is a heartbreaking loss,” said Aileen Utterdyke, president and CEO of Pacific Historic Parks, a non-profit that honors those who died in the attack.

“Lou Conter epitomized what it meant to be a member of the Greatest Generation, Americans whose collective courage, accomplishments and sacrifices saved our country from tyranny.

“He had an exemplary career in the Navy and was steadfast in imploring the schools, parents and everyday Americans to always remember Pearl Harbor.”

Conter went on to be a pilot later in World War II, and was shot down twice, including off the coast of New Guinea where he and his crew landed in shark-infested waters.

As an intelligence officer, he flew combat missions in Korea and created the Navy’s first SERE (survival, evasion, resistance and escape) program.

He was a military adviser to Presidents Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. 

Pacific Historic Parks said on its Facebook page that Conter died on Monday at his home in Grass Valley, California, surrounded by family.

AFP
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