One of the final two survivors of the USS Arizona battleship, which sank during the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Ken Potts, has passed away. He was 102. According to Randy Stratton, whose late father, Donald Stratton, was Howard Kenton Potts’ Arizona shipmate and close friend, Howard Kenton Potts passed away on Friday at the house in Provo, Utah, that he shared with his wife of 66 years.
Stratton claimed Potts “had all his marbles” but recently had difficulty getting out of bed. On April 15, Potts’ birthday, Stratton chatted with him. He was pleased with his age of 102. “But he knew that his body was kind of shutting down on him, and he was just hoping that he could get better but it (it) turned out not,” Stratton added. Potts joined the Navy in 1939. He was born and raised in Honey Bend, Illinois.
According to a 2021 article by the Utah National Guard, he was employed as a crane operator transporting supplies to Arizona on the morning of December 7, 1941, when the Pearl Harbor attack occurred. Potts claimed in a 2020 oral history interview with the American Veterans Center that sailors were ordered back to their ships over a loudspeaker, so he boarded a boat.
He claimed in the interview that when he returned to Pearl Harbor, the entire harbor was on fire. “The oil was burning” because it had seeped out and caught fire. The bombing of the Hawaii naval base, which drew the United States into World War II, caused dozens of ships to sink, capsize, or sustain other damage.
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Potts and his other sailors dragged some seamen to safety in their boat after they had been thrown or forced to plunge into the greasy sludge below. Only nine minutes after being bombed, Arizona sank, killing 1,177 people, or roughly half of all the service members killed in the attack. More than 900 bodies are still interred within the battleship, which is still located where it sank eight decades ago.
Years later, Potts remembered that while there was a lot of commotion during the raid, some people were still giving commands. Over the course of his long life, he carried the recollections of the assault. “Even after I got out of the Navy, out in the open, and heard a siren, I’d shake,” he claimed. Lou Conter, who is 101 and resides in California, is the sole survivor from Arizona, according to Stratton.
“This is the past. It will disappear, Stratton said, and when Conter is gone, who will recount all the tales? Potts didn’t want that, according to Stratton, even though several dozen Arizona survivors had their ashes scattered on the destroyed battleship so they could be with their shipmates.
He declared that he would not board the ship again after having already left it once. Many Arizona survivors, according to Stratton, had a similar dry sense of humor. That included his own father, who had suffered serious burns in the assault and did not want to be brought back to the ship in an urn of ashes.
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“I was once incinerated. Before his passing in 2020 at the age of 97, Donald Stratton reportedly said, “I’m not going to be cremated twice. “They have that their entire lives. They were humorous and aware that they would eventually pass, according to Randy Stratton. “Our current task is to preserve their memories.” Potts leaves behind his wife, Doris. Other survivors’ identities were not immediately known.
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