Community Comes Together to Remember USS Arizona Survivor

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Feb. 29, 2020) Nikki Stratton, granddaughter of Donald Stratton speaks during the funeral service while his great grandchildren hold a rope which is how Donald was saved on December 7, 1941 . Stratton was one of few remaing survivors on the USS Arizona before he passed away on February 15, 2020. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Gilbert Bolibol/released)

Colorado Springs, Colo. — Funeral services for USS Arizona survivor Seaman 1st Class, Donald G. Stratton, took place at Rocky Mountain Calvary Chapel located in Colorado Springs, Colorado, February 29.

Among those in attendance were Stratton’s wife Velma, son Randy, and his granddaughter Nikki. Honorable Thomas B. Modly, acting Secretary of the Navy, provided remarks as a guest speaker.

Modly described how Stratton’s life was saved by Joe George, a Sailor from the USS Vestal that threw a line to the USS Arizona, saving Stratton and four others.

“I can’t imagine the strength, perseverance and determination it took for Don and his shipmates, already badly burned to reach the safety of the Vestals’ deck,” said Modly. “Using that gift of life to continue service for his country and then returning home to raise a wonderful family and standing strong for his community.”

Stratton was born on July 14, 1922, in Inavale, Nebraska and served on the USS Arizona during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

“Don spent nearly the final two decades of his life fighting to ensure that the name of Joe George would not be lost in history.” added Modly.

George was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star with Valor.

The battleship USS Arizona had 1,512 Sailors and Marines assigned with only 355 that survived the surprise attack. Stratton was one of a few remaining survivors left until his passing on February 15.

Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado spoke about Stratton and the symbol he has become to a county that will not forget that fateful day on December 7.

“Donald Stratton was a gallant man, a life well lived, a man well loved, and a service never forgotten.” said Gardner. “He has become a symbol of who we inspire to be, a nation that we know we are, and he’s somebody that I know this country will greatly miss.”

Stratton’s granddaughter Nikki spoke while his great grandchildren held a rope across the stage.

“When my grandfather was offered a lifeline on the fateful day in 1941, he probably didn’t realize that the rope that was thrown to save his life would extend into multiple generations,” said Nikki. “The weight of his legacy will further be cemented by a single rope.”