One of Last USS Arizona Survivors of Pearl Harbor Attack Dies

The battleship USS Arizona burns in the aftermath of Japan's surprise attack at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. More than 1,000 crew members were killed. (US Navy photo)
The battleship USS Arizona burns in the aftermath of Japan's surprise attack at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. More than 1,000 crew members were killed. (US Navy photo)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- One of six remaining crew members who served on board the  USS Arizona during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor has died.

Raymond Haerry was 94. His son said the Navy veteran died Sept. 27 in Rhode Island. He was one of six remaining survivors from the battleship that took direct bomb and torpedo hits from Japanese warplanes on Dec. 7, 1941.

The surprise attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet plunged America into World War II. The day after Pearl Harbor was struck, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war against the Japanese empire.

Raymond Haerry Jr. told The Associated Press on Friday that his father ran to an anti-aircraft gun when the Japanese attacked, but its ammunition was in storage. As he tried to get the ammo, a bomb exploded on deck.

Haerry Jr. said his father jumped into flaming waters, swam to shore, and fired at enemy aircraft from there.

The Arizona arrived at Pearl Harbor the day before the attack, on Dec. 6, 1941. Out of eight battleships attacked by the Japanese, it received the most serious damage. Enemy bomb explosions detonated ammunition and fuel stored below deck, demolishing the ship's forward section and killing most of the ship's complement.

The Arizona lost 1,177 sailors and Marines, nearly four-fifths of its crew. Haerry Jr. says when he can afford it, he'll take his father's ashes to be interred inside the battleship.

A total of 334 crew members survived the USS Arizona sinking; they are the only World War II veterans who may be interred inside the warship. Other survivors of the Japanese attack may have their ashes scattered over the Pearl Harbor naval base.

The memorial service and interment of deceased USS Arizona survivors is conducted on the memorial moored over the sunken battleship. The ceremony includes a committal service, interment, a rifle salute, the playing of "Taps", and the presentation of a flag and plaque to the surviving spouse or relatives.

The urns that hold ashes of the deceased shipmates are placed in the well of Barbette No. 4, a circular armored structure that once supported a gun turret.

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