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Published on April 02, 2024
Last of the Arizona: U.S.S. Hero Lou Conter Salutes Goodbye at 102Source: X/Rep. Jeff Duncan

A piece of living history has faded this week, with the passing of Lou Conter, the last known survivor of the U.S.S. Arizona, per a statement from President Joe Biden. The veteran, who was 102 years old at the time of his passing, was remembered for his service and resilience during the attack on Pearl Harbor as well as his subsequent military career. Conter had celebrated his 20th birthday just before the infamous attack on December 7, 1941.

At dawn on a day that would live in infamy, Lou Conter, serving as a quartermaster, assisting with the navigation of the Arizona was at his post when Japan's strike began. Having endured the catastrophic explosion that sank the battleship and took the lives of 1,177 of its crew, Conter emerged unscathed and immediately engaged in rescue efforts. President Biden noted in his tribute that "Lou Conter's service to his country didn't end there." Following WWII, Conter continued in service, becoming a Naval pilot and the Navy's very first SERE officer.

Conter's tenure with the U.S. Armed Forces saw him fly hundreds of combat missions in World War II and dozens in the subsequent Korean War, rising to the rank of lieutenant commander by the time of his retirement. His commitment extended beyond active service, as he regularly attended memorial services at Pearl Harbor, honoring his fallen shipmates. President Biden emphasized the spirit of American service members, stating, "Like Lou, they risk their own safety for the safety of their fellow Americans."

The White House's announcement reflects on the gravity of Conter's passing, marking the end of a living connection to the U.S.S. Arizona. Attending annual memorial services at Pearl Harbor, until he was nearly 100 years old, Conter never missed an opportunity to pay homage to the brave men aboard the Arizona. In a somber acknowledgment of the nation's indebtedness to its servicemen and women, Biden's statement points to a profound sense of duty that Conter and his peers personified, "Like Lou, they believe deeply in their duty to their country and their fellow service members."

As the nation mourns, President Biden sent out a heartfelt condolence to Conter's loved ones, ensuring the legacy of the U.S.S. Arizona's crew is remembered. "Today, our hearts are with Lou Conter’s family and friends, and all those he served with over the years, including his shipmates on the U.S.S. Arizona. May God bless and keep them," the President said, invoking a blessing upon them in this time of remembrance.