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PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii — On Dec. 7, 1941, then-21-year-old Lauren Bruner was the second-to-last man to escape the burning wreckage of the USS Arizona after a Japanese plane dropped a bomb that ignited an enormous explosion in the battleship’s ammunition storage compartment.
He lived to be 98 years old, marrying twice and outliving both wives. He worked for a refrigeration company for nearly four decades.
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This weekend, divers will place Bruner’s ashes inside the battleship’s wreckage, which sits in Pearl Harbor where it sank during the attack 78 years ago that thrust the United States into World War II. The Southern California man will be the 44th and last crew member to be interred in accordance with this rare Navy ritual. The last three living Arizona survivors plan to be laid to rest with their families.
The somber ceremony and other events marking the attack anniversary come on the heels of a deadly shooting at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard on Wednesday, when a Navy sailor shot and killed two people and wounded a third before taking his life. In another deadly attack at a Navy base Friday, a shooter opened fire in a classroom building at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida.
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A spokesman said Pearl Harbor anniversary events will proceed as scheduled.
Bruner said he wanted to return to his ship because few people go to cemeteries, while more than 1 million people visit the Arizona each year. He also saw it as a way to join old friends who never made it off the warship.
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“I thought, well, all my buddies are right here. And there are a lot of people who come to see the ship,” Bruner told The Associated Press in an interview in 2016, three years before he died in his sleep in September. Bruner traveled from his La Mirada,...
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