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Heroic Survivor Passes: Last Pearl Harbor Veteran Remembered

Lou Conter, the last living survivor of the USS Arizona battleship’s tragic sinking during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, has passed away at the age of 102. His daughter, Louann Daley, announced that Conter died at his home in Grass Valley, California, succumbing to congestive heart failure. Conter’s legacy is deeply intertwined with one of the darkest chapters in American history—the devastating loss of 1,177 sailors and Marines aboard the Arizona, an event that propelled the United States into World War II.

As a quartermaster stationed on the main deck of the Arizona on that fateful December morning in 1941, Conter witnessed the harrowing assault unfold. He vividly recalled the horror of the bombing, describing how one bomb pierced the steel decks of the battleship, igniting a catastrophic explosion that propelled the vessel out of the water. Amidst the chaos and devastation, Conter and his fellow sailors heroically tended to the injured, displaying courage and resilience in the face of unimaginable adversity.

Conter’s remarkable journey didn’t end with Pearl Harbor. He went on to serve in the Pacific theater, flying PBY patrol bombers as part of the renowned “Black Cats” squadron. Despite facing perilous situations, including being shot down near New Guinea and contending with sharks while awaiting rescue, Conter remained steadfast in his resolve, embodying the Navy’s ethos of survival, evasion, resistance, and escape.

Following his distinguished military career, Conter continued to make significant contributions to the Navy as its first SERE officer, where he trained pilots and crew on survival techniques. His impact extended beyond the confines of the military, as he became a revered figure at annual remembrance ceremonies in Pearl Harbor, honoring the memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Conter’s humility and unwavering commitment to honoring his fallen comrades set him apart. Despite being hailed as a hero by many, he consistently redirected the spotlight to the 2,403 men who lost their lives at Pearl Harbor, emphasizing the importance of honoring their memory above all else. His passing marks the end of an era, leaving behind a legacy of courage, sacrifice, and profound humility that will continue to inspire generations to come.

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