Donald Stratton, a survivor of the USS Arizona, died Saturday, Feb. 15, at his home in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He was 97.
Stratton died in his sleep with his wife, Velma, and his son, Randy in attendance. He had been in poor health since contracting pneumonia in October.
With his passing, only two survivors remain from the last crew of the USS Arizona: Lou Conter and Ken Potts, both 98.
Stratton was a seaman first class when he was one of 335 crew members who survived the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. Another 1,177 crew members died as a result of the attack that drew the country into World War II.
During the attack on Pearl Harbor, he was with five other sailors in the burning forward mast when he was saved by climbing hand-over-hand on a rope thrown at the last second by a sailor from the USS Vestal.
Stratton received burns over 70% of his body while escaping and received a medical discharge in September 1942.
The 97-year-old veteran attended many of the annual Pearl Harbor remembrance ceremonies. His memories of the day of the attack were vivid even decades later, when he described it in his book, “All the Gallant Men.”
“One of Donald’s final wishes was that people remember Pearl Harbor and the men aboard the USS Arizona,” appeared on Stratton’s Facebook page. “Share their story and never forget those who gave all for our great country.”
The flag over the USS Arizona Memorial will be flown at half staff in honor of his life and service. He will be eulogized at services in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and will be buried in a family plot in his hometown of Red Cloud, Nebraska.