USS Arizona survivor Donald Stratton access time the world War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., on July 20, 2017. (Meredith Tibbetts/Stars and vxcialistoufjg.com)
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Donald Stratton, a seafarer severely melted while plank the doomed USS Arizona throughout the Japanese surprise assault Dec. 7, 1941, passed away Saturday in ~ his residence in Colorado Springs, Colo. He was 97.

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His happen leaves just two life survivors that the battleship, Lou Conter and also Ken Potts.

Stratton’s wife of 69 years, Velma, and also son Randy announced his fatality in a Facebook post Sunday, saying they were beside him as soon as he “passed away peacefully.”


“One of Donald’s last wishes was that human being remember Pearl Harbor and also the guys aboard the USS Arizona,” the posting said. “Share your story and also never forget those who provided all for our great country.”

Stratton spent much of his latter life doing simply that, and in 2016 he published the memoir “All the Gallant Men,” recounting the surprise attack, and also his injuries, recovery and also subsequent go back to combat in people War II.

Stratton often summed increase the happenchance of being aboard the Arizona on the morning of the assault with, “Everybody had to it is in someplace. Us were there.”

The attack that rotate the Arizona into an inferno eliminated 1,177 sailors and also Marines, and also Stratton barely do it off alive, burned over two-thirds of his body.

Born July 14, 1922, Stratton was elevated in the little Nebraska city of Red Cloud and joined the marine in the loss of 1940, he wrote in the memoir, which was coauthored by Ken Gire. Within a pair of months, the was among the approximately 1,500 males serving plank the USS Arizona. He to be assigned to one of the ship’s five portside anti-aircraft guns.

On the morning the Dec. 7, 1941, the stepped top top an exterior deck, catching sight the Japanese dive bombers attack Ford Island, the berthing suggest for the eight massive warships that Battleship Row: California, Maryland, Nevada, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia and Arizona.


With no time to fire increase the Arizona’s boilers to heavy steam out the port, the ship’s broad side became straightforward target. In ~ one point, a bomb ignited the front magazines, resulting in a catastrophic explosion.

“Men stumbled about on the deck like person torches, every collapsing into a flaming heap of flesh,” Stratton wrote. “Others jumped right into the water. Once they did, you might hear lock sizzle.

“My T-shirt had recorded fire, burning my arms and my back. My legs were shed from mine ankles to my thighs. My challenge was seared. The hair on mine head had actually been singed off, and component of my ear to be gone.”

Stratton and also a handful of sailors huddled together likely would have passed away if not for a seafarer aboard the adjacent repair ship Vestal who managed to toss a rope across to the burn ship.


“We had actually to go hand end hand on the line, and that was probably 70 or 80 feet,” Stratton wrote. “You know, you get to the middle of the line and also it starts uphill again. That was really tough, v my hands and everything burned.”

About 2 weeks ~ the attack, he was moved to a hospital specializing in burn treatment on Mare Island close to San Francisco to start a long recovery, which had a therapy using maggots to eat far the dead and also diseased skin left indigenous the burns.

He to be medically discharged indigenous the marine in September 1942 and returned come Red Cloud.

But together the following weeks happen in his hometown, he involved realize the “everything innocent and also trusting and carefree” had been ripped native him v the attack, and also he to be overwhelmed v the urge to be back in the Navy.

He was enabled to reenlist in February 1944 however was compelled to repeat straightforward training.

Back board ship, he saw activity in brand-new Guinea, the Philippines and Okinawa.

He left the marine at war’s end, but he couldn’t give up the sea. He worked for a diving agency off the shore of California, and afterwards oil drilling communication at sea.

USS Arizona survivors are allowed to have actually urns of their cremated stays entombed in the sunken hulk that the ship, which is currently a memorial site.

Stratton claimed in the past that instead, he would certainly be hidden in Nebraska.

National Park service historian Daniel Martinez, a longtime friend, defined Stratton’s thinking during a news conference in 2014.

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“He claimed to me that he come so close to being melted alive the cremation more than likely wasn’t the means to go,” Martinez said.