Lou Conter shares his Pearl Harbor experiences with high school students throughout Northern California, and he returns to the USS Arizona every December to take part in National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day activities to honor and remember the 2,403 service members and civilians who were killed during the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor. In 2019, Conter was one of only three remaining crew members out of the 335 who had survived the attack on the USS Arizona. He was the only survivor able to attend the memorial event.
The Lou Conter Story: From USS Arizona Survivor to Unsung American Hero
The Lou Conter Story: From USS Arizona Survivor to Unsung American Hero tells the incredible story of one of the last remaining survivors of the USS Arizona. More than just a recollection of the events that transpired in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941, this book also records the author’s memorable experiences before and after the Day of Infamy.
Conter was on the USS Arizona deck when a Japanese armor-piercing bomb hit one million pounds of gunpowder stored in the ship’s hull. He helped rescue crewmen following the explosion and dove into the wreckage to recover bodies in the days after. In 1942, Conter went to flight school where he earned his wings and became a VP-11 Black Cat pilot. He helped rescue over two hundred Australian Coastwatchers stranded in northern New Guinea and was shot down twice — once swimming with his crew while sharks circled. Conter also helped rescue over two hundred Australian shore watchers up the Sepik River in New Guinea.
After World War II, he became an intelligence officer, flew combat in Korea, created the Navy’s first SERE program (survival, evasion, resistance, and escape), and served as a military advisor to presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson.