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Final USS Arizona Survivor Laid to Rest

25 April 2024

From Chief Mass Communication Specialist John Pearl

Grass Valley, Calif. - Family, friends, veterans, active-duty service members, and community leaders gathered to memorialize the life of retired Lt. Cmdr. Louis (Lou) Conter April 23, 2024 at Saint Patrick Catholic Cemetery.
Grass Valley, Calif. - Family, friends, veterans, active-duty service members, and community leaders gathered to memorialize the life of retired Lt. Cmdr. Louis (Lou) Conter April 23, 2024 at Saint Patrick Catholic Cemetery.

Conter, the last living survivor from the USS Arizona (BB-39), which sank during the attack on Pearl Harbor, died peacefully in his home at the age of 102. While full military honors were conducted by Sailors from Navy Reserve Center (NRC) Sacramento, Marines from Combat Logistics Battalion 23, and a flyover from Strike Fighter Squadrons 125 & 151, conversations about Conter’s enduring legacy permeated the hundreds in attendance.

“Lou Conter represents the best of America through his example of service, patriotism, and courage. These ideals, so common with Lou’s generation, are still an inspiration for today’s Sailors and Marines,” said Rear Adm. Richard Brophy, Chief of Naval Air Training. “I am honored to have been invited, in this final flight of his life, as a representative of the service for which he has sacrificed so much for.”

In addition to surviving the Arizona attack, Conter went on to fly over 200 missions in the South Pacific and was shot down twice. Conter continued on to be awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, served on the USS Bon Homme Richard (CV-31) during the Korean War, trained with Army special forces, and completed Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) training.

According to Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Morgan Danfelt, NRC Sacramento funeral honor detail coordinator, Sailors sought out opportunities to assist with Conter’s memorial service any way they could.

“There were a lot more hands involved with this service than we generally see. We had a lot of Sailors who were very eager to be a part of this because it is an honor,” said Danfelt. “All of us wanted to do absolutely the very best job we could to provide a memorable service for his family members”

After receipt of the folded American flag from Brophy, Louann Daley, Conter’s daughter and next of kin, expressed the importance of the military in both her and her father’s life. “We could not have gotten through it without the support of the military. The military was such a big part of his life. This was the final salute. We were so blessed to have him for 102 years.”

Conter was laid to rest next to his wife Valerie.

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