Lou Conter, final survivor of the united statesArizona in Pearl Harbor, dies at 102

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Lou Conter, pictured on the seventy fifth anniversary of the Japanese assault on Pearl Harbor, in 2016, died on Monday. He was the final residing survivor of the united statesArizona battleship that exploded and sank through the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. Craig T. Kojima/AP conceal caption

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Craig T. Kojima/AP

- Lou Conter, final survivor of the united statesArizona in Pearl Harbor, dies at 102

Lou Conter, pictured on the seventy fifth anniversary of the Japanese assault on Pearl Harbor, in 2016, died on Monday. He was the final residing survivor of the united statesArizona battleship that exploded and sank through the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Craig T. Kojima/AP

Lou Conter, the final identified survivor of the assault on the united statesArizona in Pearl Harbor, has died on the age of 102.

Conter, who was a 20-year-old quartermaster on the time of the naval assault, was on the again decks of the battleship on Dec. 7, 1941, when Japanese forces decimated the U.S. Pacific fleet. The unprecedented assault killed 1,177 on the Arizona, with over 900 of these people by no means recovered.

Because the bombs rained down on the naval base, one landed between two fundamental weapons on the entrance of the Arizona. The explosion ignited an enormous retailer of TNT black powder that was used for the ship’s battery weapons.

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“There went one million kilos of powder,” Conter recalled in a 2018 interview with the American Veterans Middle. “It blew up!”

The explosion was so intense that it cut up the ship in two, “and the bow got here up about 30, 40 toes out of the water and fell straight again down,” he remembered.

The strike was catastrophic and it solely took about 10 minutes for the ship to sink, David Kilton, a spokesman for the Pearl Harbor Nationwide Memorial, advised NPR.

In the meantime, amid the chaos, Conter deserted the ship and ultimately made it to security, solely to be ordered onto a rescue boat to assist pull our bodies from the water. “A few of these had been people in misery, making an attempt to determine tips on how to swim across the big portions of oil that had leaked out and the flames that had been on the water,” Kilton stated.

“Guys had been popping out of the fireplace, and we had been simply grabbing them and laying them down,” Conter later stated. “They had been actual unhealthy. You’d choose them up by the our bodies, and the pores and skin would come off in your palms.”

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The battleship USS Arizona belches smoke because it topples over through the Japanese shock assault on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Dec. 7, 1941. The assault drew the U.S. into World Conflict II. AP conceal caption

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AP

- Lou Conter, final survivor of the united statesArizona in Pearl Harbor, dies at 102

The battleship USS Arizona belches smoke because it topples over through the Japanese shock assault on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Dec. 7, 1941. The assault drew the U.S. into World Conflict II.

AP

Conter’s life mantra out and in of battle was easy: Do not panic

Shortly after the horrors in Hawaii, Conter was chosen for flight coaching and have become a Navy aviator. He flew some 200 fight missions within the Pacific all through WWII.

Ed Bonner, a household good friend who wrote the foreword for Conter’s autobiography, The Lou Conter Story, described the conflict veteran as a heat man who by no means misplaced his cool — even when being shot down throughout a mission.

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In September 1943, Conter was given orders to drop flares over the Japanese fleet off the coast of New Guinea to maintain them awake, Bonner advised NPR, sharing one in every of his favourite conflict tales of Conter’s. However as they had been flying over the bottom, Conter’s airplane was struck, crashing into the ocean. “And as they hit the water – about six miles off of New Guinea — the co-pilot tells the 10-person crew, ‘Say your prayers, boys. We’re all going to die.’ “

However Conter wasn’t having that, Bonner laughed.

As an alternative, he ordered the terrified crew to not panic. In truth, Bonner stated, that was Conter’s life mantra: Do not panic.

So, as they had been taking place, Conter tried to calm his males with a plan. “He stated, ‘Get able to swim. We’ll simply paddle slowly and if a shark comes as much as you, punch it within the nostril.’ “

That is precisely what they did, escaping a couple of dozen sharks on their method to the shore, based on Bonner.

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“Ultimately, they bought rescued. They’d dinner, went to sleep and bought up and flew one other mission the subsequent night time. And that’s how we received the conflict. It was males like that,” Bonner declared with admiration.

After WWII, Conter went on to serve within the Korean Conflict. Later, he grew to become the Navy’s first SERE officer — an acronym for survival, evasion, resistance and escape. For years, he helped set up this system, coaching Navy pilots and crew tips on how to survive in the event that they had been shot down within the jungle and captured as prisoners of conflict.

By the top of his 27-year profession within the Navy, in 1967, he’d risen to the ranks of lieutenant commander. He then moved to California, grew to become an actual property developer, and married his second spouse, Valerie. They had been collectively for 47 years.

Conter handed away on Monday at his house in Grass Valley, Calif., following congestive coronary heart failure.

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Lou Conter’s dying prompted a an announcement from President Biden, who stated, “He by no means forgot all of the courageous males he served with on board the Arizona. Till he was almost 100 years previous, he attended annual memorial providers at Pearl Harbor.” Wealthy Pedroncelli/AP conceal caption

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Wealthy Pedroncelli/AP

- Lou Conter, final survivor of the united statesArizona in Pearl Harbor, dies at 102

Lou Conter’s dying prompted a an announcement from President Biden, who stated, “He by no means forgot all of the courageous males he served with on board the Arizona. Till he was almost 100 years previous, he attended annual memorial providers at Pearl Harbor.”

Wealthy Pedroncelli/AP

The nation mourns Conter’s passing

On Monday, President Biden reacted to Conter’s dying.

“He by no means forgot all of the courageous males he served with on board the Arizona. Till he was almost 100 years previous, he attended annual memorial providers at Pearl Harbor,” Biden stated in an announcement.

The president added: “The men and women who serve within the U.S. Armed Forces are patriots within the highest sense. Like Lou, they threat their very own security for the security of their fellow People. Like Lou, they bravely undertake harmful missions to defend our nation’s freedom and future. Like Lou, they imagine deeply of their obligation to their nation and their fellow service members and can go to the ends of the earth to meet that obligation. Our nation owes all of them a debt of gratitude we are able to by no means repay.”

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Pearl Harbor Nationwide Memorial Superintendent Tom Leatherman additionally mourned the lack of Conter

“The passing of Lou is the top of an period and so laborious for the many people who’ve gotten to know him through the years,” Leatherman stated.

“Now greater than ever we should discover a method to maintain the legacy of Pearl Harbor, that Lou championed for thus a few years, alive. We owe it to him and all those that served and misplaced their lives to ensure they didn’t die in useless,” he added, noting that the flag at over the united statesArizona Memorial will likely be flown at half-staff in honor of Conter’s life and repair till the day of his interment.

Conter’s household stated funeral preparations are being made, and there will likely be a ceremony with full navy honors.

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