It's sad...the list of survivors is dwindling a lot faster in recent years.
There are only about 300 left overall. There were only 6 left from the Arizona...but last September Raymond Haerry passed away at 94
, leaving just 5 - Lauren Bruner (WA), Louis Conter (WI), Lonnie Cook (OK), Ken Potts (IL) and Don Stratton (NE).
Don Stratton you may recognize from commemorative shows, he and Lauren Brunner were saved by a man (see below) who threw them a line that allowed them to get off the burning ship...six were saved by that line.
It is sad too that the history of this nation, a history like this...barely registers on younger generations. Ray Chavez at 104 is oldest survivor left alive
and this may be his last visit to Pearl. Once these men are gone, there is going to be few left to remember them, few to know the events of this era. Sadly, forgetting the past seems to be SOP now days. But there are many of us who will not forget and who will pass our history along.
The unknown sailor on the Vestal that saved Don Stratton and five others has been identified as Joe George
and going from rough-house rabble-rouser in trouble to life saver? Sure, that's what men did back then, even the rough kids lived by the code, he did what he could...and he didn't flinch at hesitating and had no problem disobeying an order that would have left these six men to perish. He never bragged, he never lobbied for recognition...but once those sailors like Don realized who he was they lobbied for him to receive a medal. He deserves one, his heirs deserve to see it done. I don't think it matters to Joe, it should matter to everyone else. Hopefully it happens.
To all those who fought, died and bled for our freedom, God Bless you all!