By Tom Mustin
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4)– The 75th Anniversary of Japan’s surprise assault on Pearl Harbor was marked on Wednesday. More than 2,400 Americans were killed in the attack that prompted the U.S. to enter World War II.
Donald Stratton, a Colorado survivor of the attack, traveled to Hawaii for the remembrance ceremony.
He says a part of himself died in the ruins of the USS Arizona on Dec. 7, 1941.
“Some of the pilots waved at us and smiled,” said Stratton. “And we were firing at them but we could see our bursts in the sky and they were way short.”
Stratton was on board the Arizona when a Japanese torpedo crippled the ship.
“Just a fireball about 600 or 800 feet in the air and that just engulfed us where we’re at,” said Stratton. “I got burned over about 60 percent of my body. We were just actually burning alive.”
Stratton was able to pull himself to safety on another ship.
An image of the battleship graces the back of his truck in Colorado Springs where Stratton lives.