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Pearl Harbor Survivor to Mark 78th Anniversary


FILE - U.S. Marines prepare for the Rifle Salute during ceremonies marking the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor at Kilo Pier on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Honolulu, Hawaii, Dec. 7, 2016.

One of only three surviving crewmembers of the USS Arizona will be in Hawaii Saturday to mark the 78th anniversary of the “date which will live in infamy.”

Lou Conter, 98, will attend the commemoration ceremony held to remember the 2,390 Americans killed during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the island of Oahu on Dec. 7, 1941.

Conter was on the stern of the USS Arizona when a Japanese bomb pierced the bow of the battleship, igniting a million pounds of gunpowder. A total of 1,177 men were killed on the Arizona.

On Saturday, Conter will also attend the internment of a shipmate who died in September.

FILE - U.S.S. Arizona survivor Lauren Bruner during a memorial service for the 73rd anniversary of the attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl harbor, Dec. 7, 2014, in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
FILE - U.S.S. Arizona survivor Lauren Bruner during a memorial service for the 73rd anniversary of the attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl harbor, Dec. 7, 2014, in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

“We have to bury Lauren Bruner on Saturday, so [I] had to come back,” Conter, sitting in a wheelchair, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “I’ll come out every year I can until I’m gone.”

Bruner’s remains will be interred into the warship that still lies where it sank that day.

The ceremony

As they have in years past, Pearl Harbor survivors, World War II veterans and active-duty troops will join families, tourists and local officials to observe a moment of silence at 7:55 a.m., the moment the Japanese attack began.

This year, the USS William P. Lawrence will sail by with its entire crew on deck to honor the USS Arizona and all Pearl Harbor survivors.

The 199th Fighter Squadron of the Hawaii Air National Guard and the 19th Fighter Squadron of the U.S. Air Force will conduct a missing man flyover, in which one plane leaves the formation and flies high in the sky, leaving an empty space in honor of the lives lost.

The ceremony will also include a Hawaiian blessing, a rifle salute, and the tossing of wreaths into the water around the wreckage of the Arizona.

FILE - From left, USS Arizona survivor Lou Conter and Pearl Harbor survivors John Hughes and Edwin Schuler laugh after a wreath presentation aboard the USS Arizona memorial during ceremonies commemorating the 74th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
FILE - From left, USS Arizona survivor Lou Conter and Pearl Harbor survivors John Hughes and Edwin Schuler laugh after a wreath presentation aboard the USS Arizona memorial during ceremonies commemorating the 74th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Memories

Conter, who went on to flight school after the attack, flew bombers in the South Pacific during World War II and was shot down twice.

He told the Advertiser that he and Bruner had reminisced about their prewar days in Hawaii in recent years. Both remembered good times at Smith’s Union Bar on Hotel Street.

On Saturday evening he will return to Smith’s for Bruner’s wake.

On Dec. 8, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed the nation, and in his speech referred to the previous day’s attack as “a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”

In his speech, he asked Congress for a declaration of war against Japan.

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