Donald Stratton dies in Colorado Springs at 97

Donald Stratton dies in Colorado Springs at 97

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PHOENIX — Through the soles of his shoes, Donald Stratton could feel the heat from the platform where he stood on the wounded USS Arizona. The battleship shuddered as another explosion, the most powerful yet, cracked its hull.

Six men huddled on the port side fire control tower, burned badly, trapped as the ship sank in the shallow waters near Honolulu that day, Dec. 7, 1941. Had it been only 14 minutes since Japanese bombers shattered the morning, 14 minutes since an air ambush brought war to Pearl Harbor?

Smoke and flames choked the air, but Stratton saw someone moving on a smaller ship that had been tethered to the Arizona. A sailor on the ship, a supply vessel called the USS Vestal, was about to cut the line when he saw the six men on the tower. Stratton watched as the sailor waved off another man on the deck and struggled with a line.

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