Anchors Aweigh, Lou Conter, Anchors Aweigh

Anchors Aweigh, Lou Conter, Anchors Aweigh

Anchors Aweigh, Lou Conter, Anchors Aweigh

America lost its last living survivor of the USS Arizona, which was attacked on December 7, 1941. Lou Conter was on duty that day of the attack. He passed away surrounded by family at his California home on April 1, 2024.

Having served in the United States Navy, I felt incredibly moved to write about Lou Conter.

But first, here is what the Arizona Final Salute website had to say about him.

Lou Conter was born in 1921 in Ojibwa, Wisconsin. He enlisted in the Navy in 1939 in Denver, Colorado and completed basic training in San Diego, California.

He reported to the USS Arizona in 1940 with the rank of Quartermaster, Third Class. He was on watch the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

He was on the quarterdeck station between the ships third turret and main deck when the sirens announced the Japanese attack. When the big blast hit, Lou was knocked forward to the deck as others were blown off the ship completely. He and his other sailors began helping the wounded men, keeping them from jumping over the side into the fiery and shark infested waters.

At this point he was knee deep in water as the Arizona continued to sink. When the abandon ship call sounded, Lou went into a lifeboat and rowed to shore.

After the attack, Lou helped recover bodies and put out fires. He later served in New Guinea and Europe during WWII. Lou also participated in the Korean War serving on the USS Bon Homme Richard. He retired from the navy in 1967 after serving 23 years, as a Lieutenant Commander. – Arizona Final Salute

He started as an enlisted man but then retired as an officer, which says a lot. Reading that short paragraph from the Arizona Final Salute website gave me chills because, my God, I can’t imagine what that must have been like. And men were built differently back then.

Lou Conter: The Sailor, Aviator, and Survivor

After America entered World War II due to the attack on Pearl Harbor, Conter became a Naval Aviator Cadet, earned his wings, and flew with the Black Cats in nighttime bombing raids.

The USS Arizona would not be the only attack he survived.

After surviving the Japanese attack, Conter went to flight school and became a part of the Navy’s “Black Cats” squadron, a fleet of black-colored planes that launched dive bombing during the night.

He survived another attack during that time when he and his crew were shot down near New Guinea in 1943. They spent hours treading water and avoiding sharks until another plane came along and dropped them a lifeboat. – New York Post

In his later career in the Navy, he trained other sailors how to survive “and make it out alive in different wartime scenarios—including if they’ve been taken as prisoners of war.

I didn’t know the man personally, but what I’ve read about him makes me wish I had. He seems to have led an exceptional life. I am also thankful to him for writing “The Lou Conter Story” autobiography and for not shying away from talking about his experience.


Yes, time marches on, and we lose living legends and heroes. I feel unfortunate that a whole generation is leaving us. Who will continue to tell their stories and history? Our Victory Girl Deanna asked this question in December 2023 when she wrote about Pearl Harbor and What Do The Kids Know?

Of course, Lou has said he doesn’t consider himself a hero. He would tell you that the men who died that day, December 7th, 1941, were the real heroes and that he was simply doing his job and what he had trained for in the military.

I’ll add Pearl Harbor to my bucket list of places to visit.

Here’s to Lou Conter! Thank you for your service and valor, sir!

Anchors aweigh, my boys, anchors aweigh
Farewell to foreign shores, we sail at break of day, of day
Through our last night ashore, drink to the foam
Until we meet again, here’s wishing you a happy voyage home

royalty-free from

Feature Image: Ron Cogswell/Flickr/Aerial View of the USS Arizona Memorial — Pearl Harbor Honolulu (HA) 2020/CC BY 2.0

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  • rbj1 says:

    May he rest in peace

    Um, one minor quibble: “Lou Conter was born in 1921 in Ojibwa, Wisconsin. He enlisted in the Navy in 1931 in Denver, Colorado ”

    He enlisted at ten years old?

    • Carol Marks says:

      Thank you. Yes, I just corrected it. Funny thing, I took this straight from that website, copying and pasting. But I did correct it.

  • Scott says:

    RIP Good Sir!

    I wonder if the old girl will quit leaking oil now.. It’s been said that she would once the last survivor was gone..

    And yes Carol, get there if you can. Standing over that watery grave is moving to say the least

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