75 Years Later, Colorado Survivor of Pearl Harbor Remembers

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Courtesy William Morrow/Kent Nishimura/Stringer/Getty Images
Donald Stratton of Colorado Springs was aboard the USS Arizona when it was bombed at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

It's been 75 years since Japanese planes streamed across the Hawaiian sky and launched a surprise attack on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor. More than 2,400 Americans were killed, nearly half of them crew members of the U.S.S. Arizona, which sustained a direct hit.

Seaman First Class Donald Stratton, 19, was manning anti-aircraft guns on the battleship when a Japanese bomb penetrated the decks, reached the ammunition storage, and exploded.

Stratton survived the blast but was burned across two-thirds of his body. He evaded certain death by hauling himself hand-over-hand across a 70-foot long rope to another ship, though the skin on his hands had burned off, exposing raw tissue.

Today Donald Stratton is 94 and lives in Colorado Springs. He is one of only five survivors of the U.S.S. Arizona who are still alive. Stratton's new memoir of Pearl Harbor is "All The Gallant Men." The book's co-author, Ken Gire, shared Stratton's story with Colorado Matters host Nathan Heffel.