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    Last USS Arizona survivor of Pearl Harbor attack dies

    By Nick Robertson,


    The last survivor of the USS Arizona battleship, sunk during the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, died Monday, his family announced .

    Lou Conter, who went on to be a lieutenant commander in the Navy after the attack, was 102 years old. Conter was 20 when hundreds of Japanese aircraft assaulted Pearl Harbor, a sneak attack that sank the Arizona alongside three other battleships.

    The attack killed an estimated 2,400 people — nearly 1,200 on the Arizona alone — and sent the U.S. to war against Japan.

    Conter died of heart failure at his home in Grass Valley, Calif., surrounded by his family, The Associated Press reported. He was celebrated by the USS Arizona Memorial as living a “long and distinguished life.”

    Conter was serving as a quartermaster on the Arizona, and was on deck when Japanese planes launched an attack on the harbor just before 8 a.m. on Dec. 7, 1941. He recalled in a Library of Congress oral history interview that he saw one of the Japanese bombs that penetrated the ship’s decks, exploding its munitions magazine and causing it to sink.

    “Guys were running out of the fire and trying to jump over the sides,” Conter said. “Oil all over the sea was burning.”

    More than 900 sailors remains are entombed in the Arizona’s wreckage on the seafloor of Pearl Harbor, which is now covered by a memorial. Only 335 sailors from the Arizona survived.

    Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Conter attended Naval flight school and was the pilot of a PBY Catalina, a seaplane bomber used to hunt submarines. He flew more than 200 missions with a “Black Cats” squadron, running night raids in aircraft painted black.

    Conter was once shot down in 1943 near New Guinea, later saved by a nearby aircraft which dropped a lifeboat for the crew.

    He later trained sailors on jungle survival and other tactics in preparation for being shot down as one of the Navy’s first SERE officers, meaning survival, evasion, resistance and escape.

    He served in the Navy for 28 years, retiring in 1967.

    “I’m glad he’s at peace. I’m glad he didn’t suffer. I know when he transitioned over, he had so many people there waiting for him — his wife Val, who he loved dearly,” his daughter, Louann Daley, told the AP.

    He is survived by his daughter and two sons, Tony Conter and Ron Fudge.

    Conter, a fixture at Pearl Harbor remembrance ceremonies, refused to label himself a hero.

    “The 2,403 men that died are the heroes. And we’ve got to honor them ahead of everybody else. And I’ve said that every time, and I think it should be stressed,” Conter told the AP in 2022.

    The Associated Press contributed.

    For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.

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