Sailor who jumped off USS Arizona during Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor is interred at ship’s hull10 min read

0
42

One of the last American crew members to escape the USS Arizona during Pearl Harbor had his ashes interred inside the ship’s wreckage on Saturday.

Divers took an urn containing Lauren Bruner’s ashes down to the wreckage on the 78th anniversary of the bombing in Hawaii. Bruner, who died in September aged 98, had asked that an urn with his ashes be placed inside the Arizona’s sunken hull upon his death. 

He was the second to last person to jump from the burning ship before it exploded and sank. The Arizona now rests at the bottom of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.

Of the ship’s 1,512 crew, 1,177 were killed – more than half of the 2,335 killed in the overall attack on the naval base. 

The anniversary ceremony also remembered the victims of Wednesday’s attack at the base when a US Navy sailor shot and killed two civilian Department of Defense employees at the shipyard before taking his own life. 

Petty Officer Gabriel Romero, 22, killed 32-year-old Vincent Kapoi Jr. and one other civilian employee before turning the gun on himself in the attack. A third victim is still recovering in hospital.

The ashes of Lauren Bruner (seen above at the White House in July 2017) were interred inside the wreckage of the USS Arizona on Saturday

The ashes of Lauren Bruner (seen above at the White House in July 2017) were interred inside the wreckage of the USS Arizona on Saturday

Divers on Saturday received Bruner's ashes from a National Park Service official at the USS Arizona Memorial on the island of Oahu, Hawaii

Divers on Saturday received Bruner’s ashes from a National Park Service official at the USS Arizona Memorial on the island of Oahu, Hawaii

Bruner (seen above in 2016) was the second-to-last sailor to leave the ship as it was being bombarded by Japanese warplanes on December 7, 1941

He will be the last surviving sailor from the USS Arizona whose remains will be interred at the hull of the ship

Bruner (seen above in 2016) was the second-to-last sailor to leave the ship as it was being bombarded by Japanese warplanes on December 7, 1941

In this December 7, 1941 file photo, smoke rises from the battleship USS Arizona as it sinks during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor

In this December 7, 1941 file photo, smoke rises from the battleship USS Arizona as it sinks during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor

A few years before his death, he began making preparations with the Navy and the National Park Service to have his remains interred, according to the Arizona Republic. 

His ashes will join the remains of 44 shipmates who managed to live through the attack but wanted to be laid to rest in the ship. 

Bruner explained before he died that he preferred being interred in the Arizona so he could join his buddies and because of the memorial’s high number of visitors.

He is expected to be the last Arizona crew member to be interred on the ship. The three Arizona survivors still living plan to be laid to rest with their families.

Bruner is the second crew member to die in as many months, leaving Don Stratton, Lou Conter and Ken Potts as the only remaining survivors of the attack.

Lieutenant Commander Louis Conter, one of three surviving crew members from the USS Arizona, is seen above at the Pearl Harbor commemorations on Saturday

Lieutenant Commander Louis Conter, one of three surviving crew members from the USS Arizona, is seen above at the Pearl Harbor commemorations on Saturday

Bruner suffered a machine gun wound to leg and burns to three-quarters of his body from the sneak attack, Military.com reported.  

He recalled that fateful morning in a 2014 interview with Arizona Public Radio, saying he saw a Japanese plane get so close he could see the pilot with a ‘big old grin on his face, mouth wide open,’ Fox News reported.

Check this out  Passengers drink whisky when told plane will make emergency landing

Bruner recounted his story in the autobiography ‘Second to the Last to Leave.’

That morning when his life changed Bruner was waiting to get off the ship for a date with a Japanese bartender, when he heard a ‘whump’ that rocked the deck and bursts of gun fire followed.  

‘With each explosion, Arizona shook like a dog shedding water,’ Bruner wrote in his memoir. 

He spent seven months in the hospital where the antiquated treatment included soaking his hands in brine water, peeling off the dead skin and then soaking them in alcohol.

After recovering, Bruner served on a destroyer that saw eight major engagements during the war, Military.com said. 

He was discharged in late 1946 at a rank of chief fire controlman.

After leaving the military, Bruner married three times and worked in a plant making refrigerators. He eventually settled in Los Angeles.

He later launched the Lauren F. Bruner USS Arizona Memorial Foundation to honor the battleship through education of the general public and provide assistance for military families.  

Conter, the USS Arizona survivor from Grass Valley, California, said he will attend Bruner’s interment ceremony later Saturday. 

He said Bruner was a good friend who joined the Navy and the USS Arizona a year ahead of Conter.

‘Lauren was a good sailor, a good man. I´m glad he made it through Pearl,’ he said.

The USS Arizona still rests in the harbor today and is a grave for more than 900 men killed in the attack. 

Each year, nearly two million people visit the white memorial structure built above the ship.

A dozen frail survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor returned Saturday to honor those who perished when Japanese planes pierced a quiet sunny morning 78 years ago and rained bombs on battleships lined up below.

About 30 World War II veterans and some 2,000 members of the public joined the survivors, the youngest of whom are now in their late 90s, to commemorate the anniversary of the December 7, 1941, attack that launched the US into World War II.

Herb Elfring, 97, of Jackson, Michigan, said being back at Pearl Harbor reminds him of all those who have lost their lives.

American service members paid homage to the lives lost in the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on the 78th anniversary on Saturday

American service members paid homage to the lives lost in the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on the 78th anniversary on Saturday

US Marine Corps soldiers salute in front of the USS Arizona Memorial during a ceremony to mark the 78th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Saturday

US Marine Corps soldiers salute in front of the USS Arizona Memorial during a ceremony to mark the 78th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Saturday

Pearl Harbor survivor Lou Conter (center), 98, who was the only survivor from the USS Arizona to make it to this year's ceremony, smiles during the 78th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Saturday

Pearl Harbor survivor Lou Conter (center), 98, who was the only survivor from the USS Arizona to make it to this year’s ceremony, smiles during the 78th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Saturday

‘It makes you think of all the servicemen who have passed ahead of me. As a Pearl Harbor survivor, I’m one of the last chosen few I guess.’ 

Check this out  National Crime Agency seizes £4m of gold bars at Heathrow Airport

He’s the only member of his old regiment still living.

Elfring was in the Army, assigned to the 251st Coast Artillery, part of the California National Guard. 

The unit’s job was to protect airfields but they weren’t expecting an attack that morning.

Elfring was standing at the edge of his barracks at Camp Malakole a few miles down the coast from Pearl Harbor, reading a bulletin board when Japanese Zero planes flew over. 

‘I could hear it coming but didn’t pay attention to it until the strafing bullets were hitting the pavement about 15 feet away from me,’ he said.

A moment of silence was held at 7:55am, the same time the assault began. 

US Air Force F-22 fighter jets flying overhead in missing man formation broke the quiet.

Retired Navy Adm. Harry Harris, currently the U.S. ambassador to South Korea, and Interior Secretary David Bernhardt delivered remarks.

Harris said it’s difficult to imagine the events of 78 years ago when people ‘not unlike us’ were waking up to enjoy another day in paradise. 

About a dozen survivors of the attack attended the annual ceremony, the youngest of whom are now in their late 90s

About a dozen survivors of the attack attended the annual ceremony, the youngest of whom are now in their late 90s

Retired U.S. Navy Commmander Don Long listens during a ceremony to mark the 78th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Saturday. Long was alone on an anchored military seaplane in the middle of Kaneohe Bay across the island from Pearl Harbor when Japanese warplanes started striking Hawaii

Retired U.S. Navy Commmander Don Long listens during a ceremony to mark the 78th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Saturday. Long was alone on an anchored military seaplane in the middle of Kaneohe Bay across the island from Pearl Harbor when Japanese warplanes started striking Hawaii

Long (left) watched from afar as the attack that killed and wounded thousands unfolded. The Japanese planes reached his base on Kaneohe Bay soon after Pearl Harbor was hit, and the young sailor saw buildings and planes explode all around him

Long (left) watched from afar as the attack that killed and wounded thousands unfolded. The Japanese planes reached his base on Kaneohe Bay soon after Pearl Harbor was hit, and the young sailor saw buildings and planes explode all around him

About 30 World War II veterans and some 2,000 members of the public joined the survivors, the youngest of whom are now in their late 90s, to commemorate the anniversary of the December 7, 1941, attack that launched the US into World War II

About 30 World War II veterans and some 2,000 members of the public joined the survivors, the youngest of whom are now in their late 90s, to commemorate the anniversary of the December 7, 1941, attack that launched the US into World War II 

Herb Elfring (right), 97, of Jackson, Michigan, attends the ceremonies at Pearl Harbor on Saturday. Elfring survived the attack on Pearl Harbor as a soldier in the California National Guard's 251st Coast Artillery

Herb Elfring (right), 97, of Jackson, Michigan, attends the ceremonies at Pearl Harbor on Saturday. Elfring survived the attack on Pearl Harbor as a soldier in the California National Guard’s 251st Coast Artillery

‘It was a day of gallantry and unquestionable heroism even as it was a day of sacrifice and immeasurable loss,’ Harris said.

He said the World War II generation played a pivotal role in underwriting the freedoms the US enjoys today. 

‘Every December 7 we remember the past actions of our veterans on Oahu because they inspire us today and because they shape our tomorrows,’ he said.

The ceremony comes on the heels of two deadly shootings at Navy bases this week, one at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and another at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida.

Rear Adm. Robert Chadwick, commander of Navy Region Hawaii, said the military community has received an outpouring of love and support from Hawaii after the shooting at ‘our beloved shipyard’ earlier this week.

Check this out  'Helicopter-shaped' drone put more than 300 lives at risk 

‘Our thoughts and prayers remain with the families of the victims and everyone affected,’ Chadwick said.

A Pearl Harbor National Memorial spokesman said security was beefed up as usual for the annual event.

The 1941 aerial assault killed more than 2,300 US troops. 

Nearly half – or 1,177 – were Marines and sailors serving on the USS Arizona, a battleship moored in the harbor. 

The vessel sank within nine minutes of being hit, taking most of its crew down with it.

Conter, 98, was the only survivor from the USS Arizona to make it to this year’s ceremony. Two other survivors are still living. 

The USS Arizona Memorial is shown during a ceremony to mark the 78th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Saturday

The USS Arizona Memorial is shown during a ceremony to mark the 78th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Saturday

A U.S. Marine stands in front of the USS Missouri during the ceremony in Pearl Harbor on Saturday

A U.S. Marine stands in front of the USS Missouri during the ceremony in Pearl Harbor on Saturday

U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt speaks during a ceremony to mark the 78th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019 at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Survivors and members of the public gathered in Pearl Harbor to remember those killed when Japanese planes bombed the Hawaii naval base 78 years ago and launched the U.S. into World War II. About a dozen survivors of the attack attended the annual ceremony, the youngest of whom are now in their late 90s. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones)

U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt speaks during a ceremony to mark the 78th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019 at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Survivors and members of the public gathered in Pearl Harbor to remember those killed when Japanese planes bombed the Hawaii naval base 78 years ago and launched the U.S. into World War II. About a dozen survivors of the attack attended the annual ceremony, the youngest of whom are now in their late 90s. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones)

A U.S. Navy sailor stands on stage during a ceremony to mark the 78th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019 at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. Survivors and members of the public gathered in Pearl Harbor to remember those killed when Japanese planes bombed the Hawaii naval base 78 years ago and launched the U.S. into World War II. About a dozen survivors of the attack attended the annual ceremony, the youngest of whom are now in their late 90s. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones)

A U.S. Navy sailor stands on stage during a ceremony to mark the 78th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019 at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. Survivors and members of the public gathered in Pearl Harbor to remember those killed when Japanese planes bombed the Hawaii naval base 78 years ago and launched the U.S. into World War II. About a dozen survivors of the attack attended the annual ceremony, the youngest of whom are now in their late 90s. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones)

A vintage military plane flies over the ceremony to mark the 78th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019 at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. Survivors and members of the public gathered in Pearl Harbor to remember those killed when Japanese planes bombed the Hawaii naval base 78 years ago and launched the U.S. into World War II. About a dozen survivors of the attack attended the annual ceremony, the youngest of whom are now in their late 90s. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones)

A vintage military plane flies over the ceremony to mark the 78th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019 at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. Survivors and members of the public gathered in Pearl Harbor to remember those killed when Japanese planes bombed the Hawaii naval base 78 years ago and launched the U.S. into World War II. About a dozen survivors of the attack attended the annual ceremony, the youngest of whom are now in their late 90s. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones)

Conter was sick last year and couldn’t come. He said he likes to attend to remember those who lost their lives.

‘It’s always good to come back and pay respect to them and give them the top honors that they deserve,’ Conter said.

Conter said his doctor has vowed to keep him well until he’s 100 so he can return for the 80th anniversary.