TRUSTED NEWS LEADER FOR COTTONWOOD, CAMP VERDE & THE VERDE VALLEY
Fri, Feb. 28

75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor leaves only five survivors
Japanese bombing of U.S. Fleet took 2,403 lives, injured 1,178

Donald Stratton, Lauren Bruner, Lou Conter, Ken Potts, Lonnie Cook

Donald Stratton, Lauren Bruner, Lou Conter, Ken Potts, Lonnie Cook

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USS Arizona, at height of fire, following Japanese aerial attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. (Photo Courtesy of Library of Congress)

At 7:48 a.m. Dec. 7, 1941, over 350 Japanese fighter planes, bombers and torpedo planes descended on the U.S. Pacific Fleet docked in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. By the end of the two hour sneak attack, 2,403 Americans lay dead and 1,178 had suffered wounds. Nearly half the casualties occurred aboard the ship USS Arizona.

The following day, the U.S. declared war on Japan.

The reason for the attack was that the Japanese government did not want the U.S. to intervene during its conquest of various Pacific islands. Just three days later, Germany declared war on the U.S., and America found itself in World War II, battling in both Europe as well as the Pacific.

Five survivors remain

With the 75th Anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, a crowdfunding project entitled “USS Arizona Final Salute” will send the five remaining survivors - - now in their 90’s - - back to the Pearl Harbor memorial site to make their final salute. The site www.arizonafinalsalute.com is a joint effort between Nicole Stratton, her father Randy Stratton and the family of the remaining survivors.

The five survivors are Donald Stratton, Colorado Springs, CO; Lauren Bruner, La Mirada, CA; Lou Conter, northern CA; Ken Potts, Provo, UT and Lonnie Cook, Morris, OK.

Since the launch of the campaign one year ago, three additional survivors have passed away: John Anderson, Roswell, NM; Clare Hetrick, Las Vegas, NV and Raymond Haerry, Rhode Island. Both Anderson and Hetrick will be interred with their fellow shipmates on the USS Arizona as part of the 75th anniversary event.

Birth of a campaign

Nicole had grown-up hearing stories about Pearl Harbor from her grandfather Donald Stratton. She even accompanied him to the USS Arizona memorial. It was there that she realized the impact this event still had on him - - and the rest of the world. She broached the topic to Community Funded of Fort Collins, CO. Soon after, they launched the crowdfunding website Arizona Final Salute.

“While the immediate goal is raising the funding needed for travel for these men and their families, with enough public support, anything is possible. We could not only help these brave men return to Pearl Harbor in the comfort they deserve, we could also enable a documentarian to witness and share this historic event with the people who made it possible,” says Stratton on the website.

Arizona Final Salute to become a movie

Already, enough money has been raised to cover the expenses of the five survivor’s memorial trip to Pearl Harbor. That means any remaining funds may be applied towards creating a film documentary about the historic 75th anniversary event.

Emmy-award winning Producer and Director Jody Eldred, a 40-year veteran of TV documentaries and features (including NCIS, J.A.G. and Frontline) will join Executive Producer Mark Rodriguez (1996 Olympic Torch Relay, Walt Disney and others) as well as Cinematographer/Photographer Paolo Cascio (a 30-year veteran of film and television) in filming The Final Salute.

The documentary will capture the events surrounding the Pearl Harbor event, including interviews with the survivors, filming of the reunion and vintage footage of the battle. According to Nicole Stratton, Cascio “is the key person that tracked down the remaining survivors and has been granted permission from them to photograph and film this compelling story and the events that surround the 75th Anniversary Final Salute in Hawaii.”

“These brave men have given so much for the country and freedoms enjoyed by Americans today, it is our hope to find an outpouring of support that will see to it that these men are honored in a manner befitting the national heroes they are,” says Stratton.

As of press, the crowdfunding campaign is $15,000 shy of financing the documentary film. Donations may be made at www.arizonafinalsalute.com.

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