One of the last four survivors of the attack on the USS Arizona by the Japanese on December 7, 1941, died on Tuesday in California.
Lauren Bruner was a 21-year-old young man when the assault on Pearl Harbor began. Bruner served as Fire Controlman 3rd Class in charge of the ship’s .50-caliber guns and was the second to last person to escape the burning USS Arizona on that tragic day.
The National Park Service said 1,512 officers, sailors, and marines were assigned to the Arizona, but only 335 survived the attack.
Four bombs hit the Arizona during the barrage, stranding Bruner and five other individuals on the ship. However, they were able to escape by pulling themselves along a rope attached to another ship nearby.
Reports said Bruner was wounded by enemy fire and suffered from burns on over 73 percent of his body. Following his recovery, he was assigned to the USS Coghlan and participated in eight major engagements in the Aleutian Islands and an additional seven operations in the South Pacific.
Bruner was later awarded the Purple Heart and retired from the Navy in 1947.
It is with great sadness the we report the passing of Lauren Bruner. In 1941 Lauren Bruner was a Fire Controlman 3rd Class aboard USS Arizona. His passing now leaves 3 USS Arizona survivors that are still alive. Fair winds and following seas Lauren. We have the watch. #USSArizona pic.twitter.com/5Vpdbmayip
— USSArizona (@USSArizona) September 11, 2019
The three surviving crewmembers aboard the USS Arizona that day are Don Stratton, 97, Lou Conter, 98, and Ken Potts, 98.
Stratton wrote in a Facebook post on Wednesday that his friend and fellow survivor will be greatly missed.
The post read:
It’s difficult to type these words and we are beyond heartbroken. Fellow survivor, Lauren Bruner has passed away at 98. He along with Donald survived the attack on Pearl Harbor in the director of the USS Arizona, saved by Joe George. Lauren was always quick with a laugh and had a smile that would brighten an entire room. Lauren will truly be missed not just by us, but by the world. Rest in peace dear sailor. Your story will ALWAYS be remembered.
“They were so young and they’ve seen so many things that people just can’t fathom today of what they did to keep our country safe,” Stratton’s son, Randy commented.
Reports said Bruner, who returned to Hawaii several times over the years, will be interred alongside his fallen comrades on the USS Arizona.
Jay Blount, chief of interpretation and education at the Pearl Harbor National Memorial, said the loss of Bruner will be deeply felt by many.
“His passing is mourned by thousands of Americans and people across the world,” he commented. “I’ll never forget the joy and genuine nature of who he was as a person.”