A Sky Salute Honored Last Survivors Of U.S.S. Arizona, Pearl Harbor 75th Commemoration

(HONOLULU, Hawaii, December 7, 2016) – The last survivors of the U.S.S. Arizona returned for a final salute at the Pearl Harbor 75thCommemoration.  For the first time in 75 years after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the survivors took an aerial tour above the U.S.S. Arizona and witnessed the wreck that remains at the bottom of the ocean.  With a clear aerial view of the remains, the survivors paid tribute to the 1,777 shipmates they lost, and they were also honored with a sky salute.

The survivors are:

  • Lauren Bruner, fire controlman, third class, 96 years old.
  • Lonnie Cook, seaman, first class, 96 years old.
  • Lou Conter, quartermaster, third class, 95 years old.
  • Howard Kenton Potts, coxswain, 95 years old.
  • Donald Stratton, seaman, first class, 94 years old.

“These brave men have given so much for our country and freedoms enjoyed by Americans today,” said Nicole Stratton, granddaughter of Stratton.  “The outpouring of support to honor these survivors in a manner befitting the National Heroes they are is overwhelming and appreciated.”

On December 5, Blue Hawaiian Helicopters flew the survivors and their families over Pearl Harbor for the sky salute. The flights over the U.S.S. Utah and U.S.S. Missouri concluded at the U.S.S. Arizona.  Blue Hawaiian Helicopters received special permission to hover within 300-feet above the U.S.S. Arizona, allowing the survivors a more intimate look at the ship they once called home and to honor their fallen comrades.   

The survivors also flew over the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center to receive a salute from the U.S. Pacific Fleet Band. Names, ranks and information about the survivors were announced as each of the three helicopters passed.  

“These men epitomize the strength, resilience, courage and loyalty that make our country great,” said Gregg Lundberg, president and chief executive officer of Blue Hawaiian Helicopters.  “Flying them over Pearl Harbor and the eternal memoir of their ship is an honor that humbles our entire team. They are heroes.”

Blue Hawaiian Helicopters is the benefactor of the sky salute donating the three helicopters and resources that flew the survivors and their families.  The three participating Blue Hawaiian Helicopters pilots are U.S. Veterans Gardner Brown, Kristi Hicky and Loren Sampson.

The return of the survivors and their families to Pearl Harbor was made possible through the U.S.S. Arizona Final Salute campaign that raised more than $100,000 through donations. In addition to bringing the survivors and families back, the funds is being used to create “The Final Salute” documentary project aimed at preserving the historic moments surrounding the 75th Anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The campaign is a joint effort between eight families of Arizona survivors, three passing away in the last two years. The three sailors were also honored in the sky salute and interred with their shipmates in the Arizona. They are:

  • Raymond Haerry, coxswain, passed away in September at the age of 95.
  • Clarendon Hetrick, seaman, first class, passed away in April at the age of 92.
  • John Anderson, boatswain’s mate, second class passed away in 2015 at the age of 98. He will rejoin his twin brother who perished during the attack.


For more information on the U.S.S. Arizona Final Salute campaign, Pearl Harbor 75thCommemoration or Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, visit www.arizonafinalsalute.comwww.pearlharbor75thanniversary.com or www.bluehawaiian.com.