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One of the last two living survivors of the USS Arizona passes away

Wreckage of USS Arizona (BB 39) following the Dec. 7, 1941 attack at Pearl Harbor. (U.S. Navy/Released)
April 28, 2023

Ken Potts, one of the final two living survivors of the USS Arizona that sank in Pearl Harbor during World World II, died at the age of 102 on April 21, according to his family.

The death of Potts leaves only Lou Conter, 101, as the last remaining survivor from the USS Arizona.

Potts passed away in his home in Provo, Utah. He was married to his wife for 66 years, according to the Associated Press.

The massive military ship sank just minutes after being bombed by Japanese air forces on Dec. 7, 1941. Potts served as a crane operator on the ship.

In 2020, Potts shared an oral history interview with the American Veterans Center to give his account of the attacks on that day.

He was moving supplies that morning when a loudspeaker called sailors to return to their ships as the attack approached.

“When I got back to Pearl Harbor, the whole harbor was afire,” he said in the interview. “The oil had leaked out and caught on fire and was burning.”

“Even after I got out of the Navy, out in the open, and heard a siren, I’d shake,” Potts said.

Many sailors jumped into the water or were forced off their ship during the battle. Potts assisted other sailors in pulling men from the water into their boat. The USS Arizona lost 1,177 men in the attack, with over 900 bodies remaining inside the sunken vessel. The USS Arizona remains at the bottom of Pearl Harbor still today.

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A Pearl Harbor fact sheet from the Census Bureau records that 2,403 U.S. personnel, including 68 civilians, died in the attack at Pearl Harbor. A total of 19 Navy ships were damaged or destroyed. An American flag flies above the sunken USS Arizona still today to remember the lives lost in the battle.

The attack on Pearl Harbor propelled the U.S. into World War II. The U.S. would later defeat Japan, with the war ending in 1945 after surrender documents were signed aboard the USS Missouri.

Potts was originally from Honey Bend, Illinois, serving in the Navy from 1939 to 1945, according to People. He lived to reach his 102nd birthday on April 15 shortly before his death.