Last Survivor of USS Arizona Dies at 102

( – The last known survivor of the attack on the USS Arizona has died. He is among the few remaining soldiers who were present during Japan’s siege on Pearl Harbor, which brought the United States into World War II. The former serviceman died under hospice care at his home in Northern California at the age of 102.

Decades have passed since December 2, 1941, when the Imperial Japanese Navy sent 177 aircraft to take Naval Station Pearl Harbor’s fleet. Their goal was to wipe out as many of the US Navy’s vehicles as possible so forces would be unavailable to aid US, Dutch, and British territories against attacks in southeast Asia.

While air raids pummeled the hangars with bombs, torpedoes targeted battleships moored nearby in the harbor, hitting several ships. The USS Arizona exploded after a bomb struck its gunpowder storage, killing 1,177 people aboard. In all, roughly 2,400 servicemen died in the Pearl Harbor attacks.

Lou Conter was one of 335 people who survived the USS Arizona explosion, which sank the ship. He spent several days afterward assisting in the recovery efforts, rescuing other survivors, and bringing in bodies. The American hero continued his service in the armed forces, fighting in three wars. He piloted 200 missions and was shot down on two separate occasions. Conter retired in 1967 with the rank of lieutenant commander. He was one of 22 known remaining survivors of the Pearl Harbor bombings.

A memorial still stands over the site where the USS Arizona sank thanks to a partnership between the National Park Service and the US Navy. Roughly 4,000-8,000 people come to the location each day to pay their respects to the men who died during the attack. Visitors can tour the location and take a boat to a platform that rests over the fallen ship. The site also offers a 23-minute documentary on the Pearl Harbor tragedy.

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