Donald Stratton is one of the last five remaining survivors of the USS Arizona. Donald was just 19 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor sending the Navy's flagship, the USS Arizona to the depths of Pearl Harbor. 1,177 men perished in that explosion leaving just 300 alive. Donald Stratton was burned over 65% of his body, and escaped the inferno by climbing across a line to a neighboring ship—the USS Vestal. Donald and fellow survivor Lauren Bruner were saved by a man named Joe George. Joe never knew if the men he saved lived, and it wasn't until nearly 60 years later that his daughter Joe Ann knew the full extent of her father's incredible heroism on that day. Donald, Lauren and their families have been trying for over 15 years to get Joe the Medal of Honor—an honor he truly deserves. Update: This past Decemember 7, Joe George received a Bronze Star with Valor during an emotional and beautiful ceremony on the USS Arizona Memorial.
After spending over a year in the hospital recovering, Donald re-enlisted in the US Navy as WWII was still raging. At first, the Navy wouldn't allow Donald to re-enlist due to his medical discharge, however, he proved them wrong by going through boot camp a second time. He participated in six more invasions aboard the USS Stack. After WWII ended, he was 100% medically discharged and went on to work with deep sea divers and oil rigs offshore. Donald traveled the world with his wife Velma and their two sons Robert and Randy.
Donald and his family celebrated the opening of the Donald G. Stratton USS Arizona Survivor Bridge, June 10, 2018. The bridge is the only Dimond interchange in Colorado and won awards for best design. Comcast generously donated the signs on both North and Southbound I-25.
Donald is now 96 years old and he and his wife Velma celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary in April.
Donald's life was recently chronicled in the New York Times Best Seller, All the Gallant Men.