About The Survivors

Lauren Bruner enlistmentLauren Bruner
Lauren Bruner

Fire Controlman, Third Class

Lauren Bruner was born in 1920 in Washington. He enlisted in the Navy in 1938 and completed his basic training at the Naval Training Station in San Diego, California. He was assigned to the USS Arizona in 1939.

Lauren was injured during the first wave of attacks on Pearl Harbor while standing by at his battle station. He was thrown from his station towards the aft deck, as other sailors were thrown overboard. He was able to regain his footing and find fellow survivor Donald Stratton. He caught the attention of the sailor named Joe George aboard the USS Vestal, and after attaching a mooring line, Lauren and Donald crossed 70 feet of burning water to the deck of the Vestal.

After staying on the hospital ship USS Solace, Lauren was transferred to a hospital on the mainland in
1942. After recovering, he was assigned to the USS Coghlan and participated in eight major engagements in the Aleutian Islands and seven South Pacific operations. He transferred to the USS Duluth until 1946. He retired from the Navy in 1947.


 

Ken Potts EnlistmentKen Potts

Howard Kenton (Ken) Potts
Coxswain

Ken Potts enlisted in the Navy in 1939. He reported to the USS Arizona on December 31, 1939.

Ken was on shore when the initial attack began—loading up a boat with fresh produce for the Arizona’s storerooms. He witnessed the massive armor-piercing bomb strike the forward deck of the USS Arizona and explode 1,000,000 pounds of ammunition and oil. After dumping the produce in the harbor, Ken drove the boat directly to the USS Arizona, which was engulfed in flames.

He climbed aboard the ship, ducking to avoid the bullets being fired by dive-bombing planes. Ken directed sailors to his boat and carried others—taking them to the refuge of Ford Island.

Ken’s first assignment after the attack had been to a tanker making short runs outside of Pearl Harbor
refueling ships. After, he worked for the Port Director’s office—a classified position. He wound up
delivering sealed packets, new orders, military secrets, and other classified information to Navy captains around Pearl Harbor.

Ken retired from the Navy in 1946 and moved to a small town in Utah.


 

Raymond Haerry EnlistmentRaymond Haerry

Raymond Haerry

Coxswain

Raymond Haerry was born on November 28, 1921, in Patterson, New Jersey. He enlisted in the Navy in 1940 and completed basic training at the Naval Training Station in Norfolk, Virginia. He reported for duty aboard the USS Arizona on September 1940.

Raymond was topside on the aft deck manning one of the USS Arizona’s anti-aircraft guns.  He witnessed the armor-piercing bomb crash through the forward deck of the USS Arizona, igniting 1,000,000 pounds of ammunition and fuel. He was blown overboard into the flaming waters of Pearl Harbor. Thousands of gallons of fuel and oil poured into the harbor, creating a wet inferno. Raymond was able to swim to nearby Ford Island by staying underwater and only surfacing after pushing away the oil burning on the surface. He still remembers swimming past burning sailors and corpses as he struggled in the oily water.
He went on to serve on the USS OpportuneUSS AllagashUSS Luiseno, and the USS Muna Kea. He was awarded the Navy Good Conduct Medal, American Defense Service Medal, Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal. Raymond served in the Navy for
24 years, retiring in 1964.

Raymond Haerry passed away on September 27, 2016 and will be interred on the U.S.S. Arizona in 2017.

 


 

Lou Conter enlistmentLou Conter

Lou Conter

Quartermaster, Third Class

Louis (Lou) Conter was born September 13, 1921, in Ojibwa, Wisconsin. He completed his basic training at the Naval Training Center in San Diego, California. He reported for duty aboard the USS Arizona on January 24, 1940.

Lou was on watch during the initial Japanese attack. He was near the third turret on the main deck when the armor-piercing bomb ignited 1,000,000 pounds of ammunition and fuel. The blast knocked him to the deck, with other sailors being thrown overboard. Everything in the forward part of the ship had nearly disintegrated, and sailors began emerging from the inferno. Lou dowsed the flames covering sailors and kept others from jumping overboard into the fire-filled waters.

Knee deep in water on the Arizona deck, he assisted with the firefighting and rescue efforts. After the abandon ship order, he went into a lifeboat, pulling sailors from the water as they paddled to shore. When the second attack wave hit, Lou fought from the boat—trying to pick off planes with machine guns and
rifles. After the attack, Lou spent 10 days putting out fires and retrieving bodies from the Arizona hull.

Lou served in Rabaul, New Guinea, and Europe, and recalled during the Korean War (1950). He retired from the Navy after serving nearly 23 years.

 


Lonnie Cook enlistmentLonnie Cook

Lonnie Cook
 

Seaman, First Class

Lonnie was born on November 19, 1920 in Morris, Oklahoma. He enlisted in the Navy in 1940 and completed his basic training at the Naval Training Station in San Diego, California. He reported for duty aboard the USS Arizona on July 2, 1940.

Scheduled for leave December 7, Lonnie was showering in the bow of the Arizona during the first wave of attacks. Lonnie and his crew were headed up to the turret towards his battle station when the armor-piercing bomb hit the forward deck. The crew huddled in the gunroom as smoke filled the room. He pulled off his t-shirt and stuffed it in the sight port to stem the flow of smoke.

When he realized the smoke was coming from the turret itself, he left the room and ran to the starboard deck to get into a life raft, bringing all the burned and injured sailors he could find. The abandon ship order was sounded and by then, the USS Arizona had sunk so deep in the water, Lonnie stepped from the deck into the motor launch and pushed towards the shore.

Lonnie served on the USS PattersonUSS Aylwin, and USS Pringle. He saw action in the Marshall Islands, Guam, Saipan,
Tinian, and the Philippines. His last post was on the USS Hall landing troops on Iwo Jima and Okinawa. He was discharged from the Navy in 1948.

 


 

Donald Stratton enlistmentDonald Stratton

Donald Stratton

Seaman, First Class, US Navy

Donald was born July 14, 1922, in Inavale, Nebraska. He enlisted in the US Navy in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1940 after gradating high school. After completing basic training at the Naval Training Station in Great Lakes, Illinois, he reported for duty on the USS Arizona at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard on December 9, 1940. He was assigned to the 6th Division, battle station port AA director on the foremast.

On December 7th, he went for breakfast around 7 a.m. Most of the crew were wearing shorts and t-shirts—the uniform of the day. After breakfast, Donald headed for sick-bay to visit his friend, Hard Nelson. He had just stepped out of the mess area near the casemate on the bow of the ship when he heard sailors yelling and hollering. Looking out to Ford Island, he could see several types of planes. As they circled, Donald could see the Rising Sun insignia on the wings as bombs exploded around him. He remembers asking himself, “What the hell is going on?”

Donald headed for his battle station—one deck above the bridge—to the Sky Control Platform. He and his fellow sailors started firing at the high-altitude bombers, but their shells were bursting before they reached the bombers altitude.

Around 8 a.m., the USS Arizona was hit by the first bomb near No. 3 turret, bouncing over the side. The second bomb went through the afterdeck but didn’t explode. The third bomb sliced through the starboard side, igniting over 1,000,000 pounds of ammunition and fuel. The USS Arizona was lifted nearly completely out of the water, followed by a fireball that rose to more than 500 feet in the air. Donald and his crewmates attempted to shield themselves within the director.

The sailors attempted to shield themselves from the raging inferno as Donald watched two of his shipmates jumped overboard—never to be seen again. The Hawaiian Trade winds started to blow the smoke away, leaving a red-hot Arizona deck. Donald was burned from his ankles to the top of his head—totaling about 70% of his body. His hair was gone, and part of his ear was missing.

The USS Vestal was moored alongside of the Arizona, and the caught the attention of a sailor named Joe George, who threw a heaving line across to the men. Donald and the other men attached a heavier line, and it was pulled across to the Vestal. Just before the men crossed the line, Donald removed the burnt skin from his arms, pulling it off like a sock. The men crossed the line, about 70 feet from one deck to the other and 40 feet in the air. The water was on fire as the six sailors crossed. Two men died from their wounds as they waited for rescue on the Vestal.

Donald spent three weeks in the hospital before he travelled to the states. Doctors and nurses didn’t believe he would survive the trip back, so to prove he was strong enough, he stood next to his bed while nurses changed his sheets. He didn’t move for a while after that. He arrived in the states on Christmas day 1941—spending 9 months at the Mare Island hospital. During the attack, Donald weighed 170 pounds and after his time in the hospital, he weighed just 92. Donald refused to have his left arm amputated, determined to regain full use of it.

After a year he regained almost full use of his left side and was medically discharged in September 1944. With WWII still happening in the Pacific, Donald re-enlisted in the Navy. They refused his enlistment at
first, citing his extensive medical history. Eventually, the Navy relented, and allowed him to return—only if he went through boot camp a second time.

Donald was assigned to the USS Stack and participated in the invasion landings at New Guinea, Hallamahara, Leyte, Luzon, and Okinawa.

 


 

Clare Hetrick enlistmentClare Hetrick

 

Clarendon Hetrick

Seaman, First Class

Clarendon (Clare) Hetrick was born on May 26, 1923, in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He enlisted in the Navy in 1940, completing basic training at the Naval Training Center in San Diego, California. He reported for duty aboard the USS Arizona in January 1941.

Clare was getting ready for his shore leave when the bombing started. Just before his morning shower, Clare looked out the port side to see the Japanese planes dive-bombing Pearl Harbor. He ran to his battle station on the 3rd deck. After receiving word that the lower deck needed help passing ammunition up to the higher decks, Clare and his division headed to the 5-inch magazine elevator.

The explosion hit just after Clare started sending ammunition up the elevator—the room immediately filled with smoke. He remembers thinking that smoke in the magazine area is no place you want to be. The abandon ship order was sounded, and Clare headed for the nearest hatch, but an injured sailor blocked it. He helped him through and jumped off the starboard side of the Arizona—swimming to Ford Island.

Clare spent the night on the USS Tennessee and later the USS Lexington. After assisting in the recovery efforts, he was transferred to North Island in San Diego, California, for aircraft training and torpedo training. Assigned to the USS Saratoga, Clare was injured during the invasion of Iwo Jima, but spent the
rest of World War II on the Saratoga.
He left the Navy in 1949 and joined the Air Force. Clare was stationed in Korea, Virginia, Utah, France, and New Mexico. He retired from the military in 1961.

Clare passed away April 18, 2016 at the age of 92. He will be interred during the 75th Anniversary ceremonies along with John Anderson.

 


 

John Anderson EnlistmentJohn Anderson

John Anderson (1925-2015)

Boatswain’s Mate, Second Class

John Anderson Sr. was born on August 26th 1917 to Ed and Laura Anderson. John joined the Navy with his twin brother Delbert in 1937. John and Delbert had basic training in San Diego California. John was first stationed on the USS Saratoga then transferred to the USS Edsall and went to China. In 1937 Johns twin Delbert was placed on the USS Arizona. In 1940 John transferred to The USS Arizona.

John’s was to set up the church ceremony on the fan tail of the ship.  He finished setting up and went to the mess hall to eat breakfast when he heard a loud explosion. He went to the hatch to look onto the quarter deck and saw the planes and the red balls on the wings. John went back into the hatch to sound the general alarm. Just as he was going to pull the alarm, an explosion occurred and blew him back out of the hatch. He headed to his battle station which was #4 turret, loaded the guns and made them ready.

John made a request to leave to go help his twin brother on the antiaircraft guns. As he emerged from the turret a huge explosion occurred. Fire was everywhere; He was blown back to the deck by the #4 turret. He got up and regained my senses and saw Lt Commander Fuqua ordering men into small boats giving orders to abandon ship. Lt. Fuqua began to yell ordering him into a small boat. John refused and said “I will not leave until I find my brother.” Lt. Fuqua then pushed him over the side of the ship into the small boat.

John got to Ford Island and was able to find a craft to go back to the Arizona and look for his brother. On the way he picked up three men who were burned horrifically and severely injured. He almost arrived at the Arizona when the craft blew up. He was thrown onto the harbor.  After swimming back to Ford Island, he found a bomb hole. John remembers in the late night hour’s planes began to land on Ford Island and he could not tell who they were so we fired a few rounds. The next day, he and others were all rounded up as the last survivors of the Arizona.

John passed away November 13, at the age of 98. John will rejoin his twin brother on December 7, 2016 when his ashes will be interred with his shipmates.