Ken Potts, certainly one of final two USS Arizona survivors, dies at 102

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HONOLULU — Ken Potts, one of many final two remaining survivors of the usArizona battleship, which sank in the course of the 1941 Japanese assault on Pearl Harbor, has died. He was 102.

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Howard Kenton Potts died Friday on the house in Provo, Utah, that he shared along with his spouse of 66 years, in accordance with Randy Stratton, whose late father, Donald Stratton, was Potts’ Arizona shipmate and shut pal.

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Stratton mentioned Potts “had all his marbles” however currently was having a tough time getting away from bed. When Stratton spoke to Potts on his birthday, April 15, he was blissful to have made it to 102.

“However he knew that his physique was sort of shutting down on him, and he was simply hoping that he might get higher however (it) turned out not,” Stratton mentioned.

Potts was born and raised in Honey Bend, Illinois, and enlisted within the Navy in 1939.

He was working as a crane operator shuttling provides to the Arizona the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, when the Pearl Harbor assault occurred, in accordance with a 2021 article by the Utah Nationwide Guard.

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In a 2020 oral historical past interview with the American Veterans Heart, Potts mentioned a loudspeaker ordered sailors again to their ships so he obtained on a ship.

“Once I obtained again to Pearl Harbor, the entire harbor was afire,” He mentioned within the interview. “The oil had leaked out and caught on hearth and was burning.”

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Dozens of ships both sank, capsized or had been broken within the bombing of the Hawaii naval base, which catapulted the U.S. into World Warfare II.

Sailors had been tossed or pressured to leap into the oily muck beneath, and Potts and his fellow sailors pulled some to security of their boat.

The Arizona sank simply 9 minutes after being bombed, and its 1,177 lifeless account for practically half the servicemen killed within the assault. Right this moment the battleship nonetheless sits the place it sank eight many years in the past, with greater than 900 lifeless entombed inside.

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Potts recalled many years later that some individuals had been nonetheless giving orders within the midst of the assault however there was additionally numerous chaos. He carried his recollections of the assault over the course of his lengthy life.

“Even after I obtained out of the Navy, out within the open, and heard a siren, I’d shake,” he mentioned.

Stratton famous that the one remaining survivor from the Arizona is now Lou Conter, who’s 101 and dwelling in California.

“That is historical past. It’s going away,” Stratton mentioned, including: “And as soon as (Conter is) gone, who tells all their tales?”

A number of dozen Arizona survivors have had their ashes interred on the sunken battleship so they may be part of their shipmates, however Potts didn’t need that, in accordance with Stratton.

“He mentioned he obtained off as soon as, he’s not going to return on board once more,” he mentioned.

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Stratton mentioned many Arizona survivors shared an identical dry sense of humour. That included his personal father, who was severely burned within the assault and in addition didn’t wish to return to the ship as ashes in an urn.

“‘I’ve been cremated as soon as. I’m not going to be cremated twice,”‘ Donald Stratton joked, in accordance with the youthful Stratton, earlier than his dying in 2020 at age 97.

“That they had that each one all through their lives. That they had the humorousness, they usually knew ultimately they’d go,” Randy Stratton mentioned. “Our job now could be to maintain their recollections alive.”

Potts is survived by his spouse, Doris. Data on different survivors was not instantly accessible.

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