COLORADO SPRINGS– Colorado Springs local Donald Stratton, one of the last few remaining survivors of the USS Arizona, has passed away at age 97.
Donald passed away in his sleep surrounded by his wife of nearly 70 years, Velma, and his son Randy.
One of Donald’s final wishes was that people remember Pearl Harbor and the men aboard the USS Arizona.
A family friend of the Strattons, Commodore Bob Lally, spoke with FOX21 about Donalds’s passing with the family’s permission.
Lally stated that Donald was suffering from on-again-off-again pneumonia leading up to his death.
“He went to sleep and didn’t wake back up. Pneumonia at 97 isn’t easy to kick,” Lally said.
Lally also shared with FOX21 that Donald’s family was in the process of arranging funeral services for him.
“Don Stratton was born in Red Cloud, Nebraska almost 98 years ago. So, the family is going to take him to a family plot back there. So, think about that… this was the greatest generation,” Lally said.
Donald was just 19 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor sending the Navy’s flagship, the USS Arizona to the depths of Pearl Harbor.
1,177 men perished in that explosion leaving just around 355 alive.
Donald Stratton was burned over 65% of his body and escaped the inferno by climbing across a rope to a neighboring ship—the USS Vestal.
In 2018, the Fillmore Street bridge over Interstate 25 in Colorado Springs was dedicated in his name.