Last USS Arizona survivor passes away
Louis Conter, right, passed away April 1. (Photo by Lucas Carter)

Last USS Arizona survivor passes away

Lou Conter, the final survivor of the USS Arizona that sank during the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, has died. He was 102.

Conter passed away Monday in Grass Valley, Calif., following congestive heart failure.

On Dec. 7, 1941, he was a quartermaster, standing on the main deck of the Arizona as Japanese planes began the attack. The Arizona lost 1,177 sailors and Marines during the bombing that launched the United States into World War II.

Conter was among Pearl Harbor survivors who attended the 75th anniversary commemorations in 2016.

“People call us heroes,” Conter, a member of American Legion Post 130 in the Department of California, said at a 75th anniversary event. “We’re not the heroes. The 1,177 who went down with the ship are the heroes. You have to remember we got to go home, get married, have children and grandchildren, and we’ve lived a good life. Those who didn’t get to do that should be called the heroes.”

In the late 1950s, he became the Navy’s first SERE officer — an acronym for survival, evasion, resistance and escape. He spent the next decade training Navy pilots and crew on how to survive if they’re shot down in the jungle and captured as a prisoner of war. Some of his pupils used his lessons as POWs in Vietnam.

The Associated Press reported there are now 19 survivors of the Pearl Harbor attack still living.