Lou Conter, Last USS Arizona Survivor from Pearl Harbor, Dies At 102
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Lou Conter, Last USS Arizona Survivor from Pearl Harbor, Dies At 102

The last survivor of the USS Arizona battleship has died. Lou Conter passed away at the age of 102. Conter was aboard the battleship when the Japanese bombed the vessel. The USS Arizona was one of the casualties of the Pearl Harbor attacks that ignited America's involvement in World War 2, but Conter survived.

The military member would go on to live a long and fulfilled life. He passed away in California from congestive heart failure, surrounded by family. While Conter survived the attack, 1,177 service members died when the USS Arizona sank — nearly half of all those killed in the attack.

Over the years, Conter had been quite vocal about his experience on that day. The quartermaster described a literal hell with fire raining all over the ship. A Japanese bomber detonated the ship's supply of gunpowder, triggering a massive explosion on the ship. "Guys were running out of the fire and trying to jump over the sides," Conter told AP News. "Oil all over the sea was burning."

Following the attack, Conter helped treat the wounded survivors. He and his fellow service members had to ultimately abandon the vessel, but they attempted to rescue every living survivor of the attack. Unfortunately, only 335 including Conter survived the attack on the ship.

Lou Conter Reflects on Pearl Harbor

After the Pearl Harbor attacks, Conter would go on to fly PBY patrol bombers on 200 combat missions in the Pacific. He was part of a squadron that conducted night attacks on the Japanese. At the start of the year, Conter's health sadly began to fail him. His family realized his time was nearing, and Conter entered hospice at his home.

Conter had been getting weaker and weaker in recent months and was hospitalized for 10 days in February, his daughter said. He had been in hospice since returning home. His daughter believes that he is with his wife. 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 said.

Conter was one of just 20 survivors of the Pearl Harbor attack still alive. Over the years, he would regularly return to the site to pay his respects to those who perished that day.

"It's always good to come back and pay respect to them and give them the top honors that they deserve," he said. "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 Associated Press in a 2022 interview at his California home.