The last remaining survivor of Pearl Harbor’s USS Arizona has recalled the ‘awful destruction’ inflicted by the Japanese attack that killed 1,177 of his shipmates.
Louis A. Conter, now aged 102, was just 20 years old when Japan’s warplanes entered the sky above the US naval base in Hawaii on December 7, 1941.
‘Aloha. There’s one thing you’ve got to remember and that’s to remember Pearl Harbor,’ he said on Thursday in a taped message used to commemorate the ‘Day of Infamy’s’ anniversary.
A 1,760-pound armor-piecing bomb struck the USS Arizona leaving nearly 1,200 dead when the ship sank. The surprise attack left more than 2,400 dead across the base.
Conter wanted to attend the Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day ceremony in Hawaii on Thursday but it was decided that he should remain in Grass Valley, California, to preserve his health.
However, five other survivors of the attack returned to Pearl Harbor for the ceremony to commemorate the assault, which propelled the United States into World War II.
Louis A. Conter, the last remaining survivor of Pearl Harbor’s USS Arizona, has recalled the ‘awful destruction’ inflicted by the Japanese attack which killed 1,177 of his shipmates
He wanted to attend the Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day ceremony on Thursday in Hawaii but it was decided that he should remain in Grass Valley, California, to preserve his health
Conter, now 102, was 20 years old when Japan ‘s warplanes entered the sky in Honolulu, Hawaii on December 7, 1941 and left more than 2,400 people dead
Five other survivors of the attack returned to Pearl Harbor on Thursday for the ceremony to commemorate the assault which propelled the United States into World War II
At a previous event in 2021, Conter said: ‘I was aboard the USS Arizona that morning and witnessed the awful destruction that occurred.
‘I was grateful to have survived and to have had the opportunity to serve throughout World War II.
‘It is a great honor to recognize the men and women who were a part of this history. And especially those who didn’t get to see the legacy they would leave behind.
‘Before I finish this I want to say, of the 2,403 servicemen that fell that day, 1,177 of my shipmates aboard the USS Arizona, God bless you. Today remains behind to those men.
‘A lot of people call us heroes, but we’re really not heroes. The ones who gave everything, their lives, are the heroes.’
Ira ‘Ike’ Schab, 103, returned to the scene of Pearl Harbor with four other survivors for Thursday’s anniversary.
It was held on a field across the harbor from the USS Arizona Memorial, a white structure that sits above the rusting hull of the battleship, which exploded in a fireball and sank shortly after being hit.
More than 1,100 sailors and Marines from the Arizona were killed and more than 900 are entombed inside.
Harry Chandler, 102, (left), who raised the flag at a mobile hospital in Aiea Heights in the hills above Pearl Harbor in 1941, attended the ceremony at Pearl Harbor on Thursday with other veterans
Veterans gather in Washington, DC, to mark the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor
A ceremony was held in Washington, DC, and attended by World War II veterans
An event was held in New York City on Thursday to commemorate the 82nd anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack
A moment of silence began at 7:55 a.m., the same time the attack began on Dec. 7, 1941.
Harry Chandler, 102, who was a Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class, raised the flag at a mobile hospital in Aiea Heights in the hills above Pearl Harbor in 1941.
Gazing over the water from his front-row seat on the ceremony grounds on Thursday, Chandler said the memories of the USS Arizona blowing up still come back to him today.
‘I saw these planes come, and I thought they were planes coming in from the states until I saw the bombs dropping,’ Chandler said. They took cover and then rode trucks down to Pearl Harbor where they attended to the injured.
He remembers sailors trapped on the capsized USS Oklahoma tapping on the hull of their ship to get rescued, and caring for those who eventually got out after teams cut holes in the ship.
‘I look out there and I can still see what´s going on. I can still see what was happening,’ said Chandler, who today lives in Tequesta, Florida.
A 1,760-pound armor-piecing bomb struck the USS Arizona and the resulting attack that sunk the ship and left more than 1,100 done
The US Department of Veterans Affairs doesn´t keep statistics for how many Pearl Harbor survivors are still living
The Dobbin lost three sailors, according to Navy records. One was killed in action and two died later of wounds suffered when fragments from a bomb struck the ship’s stern. All had been manning an anti-aircraft gun.
Schab never spoke much about Pearl Harbor until about a decade ago. He’s since been sharing his story with his family, student groups and history buffs. And he’s returned to Pearl Harbor several times since.
‘The reason? ‘To pay honor to the guys that didn´t make it,’ he said.
The US Department of Veterans Affairs doesn´t keep statistics for how many Pearl Harbor survivors are still living.
But department data show that of the 16 million who served in World War II, only about 120,000 were alive as of October and an estimated 131 die each day.
There were about 87,000 military personnel on Oahu at the time of the attack, according to a rough estimate compiled by military historian J. Michael Wenger.