EDITORIAL | American Hero: Last surviving crew member of the USS Arizona dies at age 102

(Associated Press)
(Associated Press)

Almost half of the Americans who died Sunday, December 7, 1941, in the attack on Pearl Harbor were serving aboard the USS Arizona.

It was just before 8 am when Japanese imperial forces attacked from the air. Several armor-piercing bombs were dropped on the Arizona -- one hitting the great battleship's magazine filled with explosives.

The explosions and the sinking of the Arizona claimed the lives of 1,177 sailors and Marines.

Only about 330 Arizona crew members survived. One of them was Lou Conter.

He was just a 20-year-old Quartermaster 3rd Class on the day of the attack. He was standing on the main deck when the first Japanese planes flew in.

By the grace of God he lived through the onslaught and the turmoil that followed, helping to rescue other crew members injured in the attack.

Conter continued his military service, becoming a pilot, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross, and serving in Naval Intelligence. He rose to the rank of lieutenant commander and retired in 1967 after 28 years of service.

On Monday, Lt. Cdr. Lou Conter -- the last survivor of the the USS Arizona -- died at the age of 1002, surrounded by family at his California home.

Conter exemplified what has come to be called "The Greatest Generation." The men and women who answered their country's call and saved the world from fascism and dictatorship. May he be carried to his rest with our nation's eternal gratitude.

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