Maui News

Flags lowered to honor last USS Arizona survivor: Lou Conter, dies at 102

Listen to this Article
3 minutes
Loading Audio... Article will play after ad...
Playing in :00

Lou Conter gave personal remarks about fellow survivor Lauren Bruner during his sunset interment ceremony on Dec. 7, 2019 at Pearl Harbor, as part of the 78th Anniversary Pearl Harbor Remembrance Commemoration. The honor of interment aboard USS Arizona is reserved only for surviving crew members of the Dec. 7, 1941 attacks. (US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Holly L. Herline) Photo cropped from original taken on Dec. 7, 2019.

Gov. Josh Green, M.D., has ordered that the United States flag and the Hawaiʻi state flag be flown at half-staff at the Hawaiʻi State Capitol and at all state offices and agencies as well as the Hawaiʻi National Guard in the State of Hawaiʻi, effective from sunrise Wednesday, April 3, to sunset Friday, April 5. 

This action is taken to honor the last Pearl Harbor survivor of the USS Arizona, Lou Conter, who died on Monday, April 1, 2024, at age 102. Conter and many of his 335 shipmates who survived the attack, distinguished themselves by rescuing many of their brethren and continued to serve the Navy with dignity and honor. The Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor took the lives of 1,177 Arizona crewmembers.

“Lou Conter is one of the greatest examples of ‘the Greatest Generation,’” said Gov. Green. “After surviving the Pearl Harbor attack, he not only stayed in the Navy, but he went to flight school and ultimately flew some 200 combat missions, including getting shot down while contributing to the rescue of his “Black Cats” squadron near New Guinea. We are forever grateful to Lou and all those who served aboard the USS Arizona and on all of the other ships in Pearl Harbor on that fateful day. Hawai‘i and America salute their service and their memory.” 


President Joe Biden issued the following statement today (April 2, 2024) the Passing of Lou Conter:

“This week, America lost a hero.

On Dec. 7, 1941, Lou Conter was serving on the USS Arizona, stationed on Battleship Row at Pearl Harbor, Hawai’i. His job was quartermaster, assisting with the battleship’s navigation. He had just turned 20 years old.


When Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor began that morning, the Arizona was hit by several armor-piercing bombs. One hit the ship’s magazine, where more than a million pounds of gunpowder were stored. The battleship exploded.

Lou, miraculously, was uninjured. He quickly got to work helping survivors, and he spent the next several days helping to put out fires and recover bodies. In the end, 1,177 officers and crewmen of the USS Arizona were killed. Fewer than 100 of the people on board that day survived.

Lou Conter’s service to his country didn’t end there. He became a Naval pilot, flying hundreds of combat missions in World War II and dozens in the Korean War. He also became the Navy’s very first SERE officer, training airmen in critical skills – Survive, Evade, Resist, and Escape – in case they were shot down or captured. By the time he retired from the military, he had earned the rank of lieutenant commander. And he never forgot all the brave men he served with on board the Arizona. Until he was nearly 100 years old, he attended annual memorial services at Pearl Harbor.


When Lou passed away on Monday at the age of 102, America said farewell to the last known survivor of the USS Arizona.

The women and men who serve in the US Armed Forces are patriots in the highest sense. Like Lou, they risk their own safety for the safety of their fellow Americans. Like Lou, they bravely undertake dangerous missions to defend our nation’s freedom and future. Like Lou, they believe deeply in their duty to their country and their fellow service members and will go to the ends of the earth to fulfill that duty. Our nation owes them all a debt of gratitude we can never repay.

Today, our hearts are with Lou Conter’s family and friends, and all those he served with over the years, including his shipmates on the USS Arizona. May God bless and keep them.”

USS Arizona memorial. PC: Office of Gov. Josh Green. (December 2023)

Sponsored Content

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Stay in-the-know with daily or weekly
headlines delivered straight to your inbox.


This comments section is a public community forum for the purpose of free expression. Although Maui Now encourages respectful communication only, some content may be considered offensive. Please view at your own discretion. View Comments