STRATTON, Donald Gay

The explosion, along with the bomb, was caused by ammunition powder, aviation gasoline (180,000 gallons), and of course fuel oil. What an awful horrendous day this was watching sailors and marines fight for this wonderful country for their very lives,(which so many perished). Some below decks did not know who or what hit them. The worst tragedy is, of course, the young American lives, but did we learn anything? Let us keep America Alert, for they say history has a way of repeating itself.

I guess being inside the director saved some of our lives on the sky-control platform, as I recall it took 40 - 50 men to man both port and starboard sides of sky control, 10 men to each director, plus all the observation personnel and plane spotters. I do not know what happened to most of them as only 6 of us went across a line to the USS Vestal.

The USS Vestal was tied up outboard of us, as they were doing some work on the Arizona. We could not go down the ladders as everything was burning. As the flames died down, we were out on the platform with no where to go.

There was a sailor, (Joe George - found out later) out on the after deck of the Vestal who threw us a heaving line and attached a heavier line, which we pulled across to the Arizona and tied to the sky-control platform, and we, proceeded to go across the line, hand over hand, after we were burned very badly. The line was about 45 feet in the air, over lots of fire and water. Six of us went across that line and only three alive today, Lauren Bruner, Russell Lott and myself. I was burned over 50 to 60% of my body. After we were aboard the Vestal for awhile, we were put on a motor launch and taken to the landing where we were loaded on an open air truck and driven to the US Naval Hospital in Pearl Harbor.

I was there a for a few days and they decided to send some of us back to the mainland, where of course, I wanted to go. They didn't know if I would make it or not, so they decided if I could get up and stand by the side of my bed while they changed the linens, that I could go. I did, but when I laid back down I did not get up for a very long time.

I arrived via USS Scott to Mare Island Naval Hospital on Christmas Day, 25 December 1941. Needless to say I have a soft spot in my heart for all the doctors, nurses and corpsman of the Navy.

Remember the Arizona!
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