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USS Arizona survivors welcomed to Washington 75 years after Pearl Harbor attack

6 years 4 months 1 week ago Sunday, July 23 2017 Jul 23, 2017 July 23, 2017 3:06 PM July 23, 2017 in News
Source: ABC News
Photo: EJ Hersom/Department of Defense

WASHINGTON - Hundreds of service members lined the halls of the Pentagon Friday to welcome three of the five remaining survivors from the USS Arizona, 75 years after the ship was attacked at Pearl Harbor.

Lauren Bruner (Fire Controlman), Donald Stratton (Seaman First Class), and Ken Potts (Coxswain) traveled to Washington, D.C. to posthumously honor a fellow sailor who saved their lives, and those of four others.

During the attack, Bruner and Stratton, trapped on the burning Arizona, caught the attention of a man named Joe George, who was on a neighboring Navy vessel. George helped secure a line to the Arizona, which the men climbed some 70 or 80 feet to safety, 95-year-old Stratton said.

"And we finally got all six of us over there, and Joe George coaxing us saying, 'Come on sailor, you can make it, you can make it,'" Stratton told ABC News.

Potts, who was uninjured in the attack, assisted in the recovery of his shipmate's bodies. Over 1,000 Americans died on the USS Arizona on December 7, 1941.

After the grand welcome to the Pentagon, the men and their wives met with Defense Secretary James Mattis, followed by a lunch with the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy, Steven Giordano, as well as enlisted sailors.

They then headed to the White House to visit with President Trump, who delivered remarks in the Oval Office.

Stratton and Bruner, while severely injured during the Pearl Harbor attack, later returned to military service and deployed to the Pacific to fight in World War II.

"So we started the war and we finished it," Stratton said.

For these men, the visit to the nation's capital was an important way to finally honor George.

"We're not heroes, we just got lucky and with the help of God and the good Lord we're here today," Stratton said.

Click HERE to read the full report from ABC News.

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