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The last survivor of the USS Arizona died at 102 — more than 80 years after Pearl Harbor attack

Lou Conter smiles at a Pearl Harbor memorial ceremony
Lou Conter, an Arizona crewman, attends ceremonies for the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 2016, in Honolulu.Craig T. Kojima/Honolulu Star-Advertiser via AP, Pool, File
  • Lou Conter, the last known survivor of the USS Arizona, died at age 102.

  • Conter was one of only 93 men on board the ship who survived.

  • After Pearl Harbor, Conter served the Navy for 28 years, flying 200 combat missions.

The last known survivor of the USS Arizona died on Monday at the age of 102.

Lou Conter was one of only 93 men on board the battleship to survive its bombing in Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. The Arizona sank in the Honolulu harbor, killing 1,177 sailors and Marines and drawing the US into war.

Conter's daughter confirmed his death to The Associated Press, saying the veteran died of congestive heart failure at his home in Grass Valley, California.

Conter was stationed on the USS Arizona as a quartermaster and was standing on the ship's main deck when Japanese planes appeared in the skies around 8 a.m. on December 7, 1941. An armor-piercing bomb blew up more than one million pounds of gunpowder sitting in the USS Arizona's hull, lifting the ship nearly 40 feet out of the water, Conter said during a 2008 oral history.

Conter was uninjured in the initial attack and quickly began to help the ship's remaining survivors, many of whom were burned. He was eventually taken to shore by a lifeboat and spent the subsequent days recovering bodies, according to his memoir, "The Lou Conter Story: From U.S.S. Arizona Survivor to Unsung American Hero."

After Pearl Harbor, Conter attended flight school. He flew 200 combat missions in the Pacific and later trained Navy pilots in survival skills. He retired from the Navy in 1967 after 28 years served.

In his older age, Canter regularly attended Pearl Harbor remembrance ceremonies and rebuked suggestions that he was a hero.

"The 2,403 men that died are the heroes," he told the AP in 2022, referring to the number of Americans who died in the Pearl Harbor attack. "I'm not a hero. I was just doing my job."

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