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All the Gallant Men: An American Sailor's Firsthand Account of Pearl Harbor

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The most gripping, intimate, and inspiring account of Pearl Harbor. The first memoir ever published by a USS Arizona survivor. At 8:10 a.m. on December 7, 1941, Seaman First Class Donald Stratton was consumed by an inferno. A million pounds of explosives had detonated beneath his battle station aboard the USS Arizona, barely fifteen minutes into Japan’s surprise attack on A The most gripping, intimate, and inspiring account of Pearl Harbor. The first memoir ever published by a USS Arizona survivor. At 8:10 a.m. on December 7, 1941, Seaman First Class Donald Stratton was consumed by an inferno. A million pounds of explosives had detonated beneath his battle station aboard the USS Arizona, barely fifteen minutes into Japan’s surprise attack on American forces at Pearl Harbor. Near death and burned across two thirds of his body, Don, a nineteen-year-old Nebraskan who had been steeled by the Great Depression and Dust Bowl, summoned the will to haul himself hand over hand across a rope tethered to a neighboring vessel. Forty-five feet below, the harbor’s flaming, oil-slick water boiled with enemy bullets; all around him the world tore itself apart. In this extraordinary, never-before-told eyewitness account of the Pearl Harbor attack—the only memoir ever written by a survivor of the USS Arizona—ninety-four-year-old veteran Donald Stratton finally shares his unforgettable personal tale of bravery and survival on December 7, 1941, his harrowing recovery, and his inspiring determination to return to the fight. Don and four other sailors made it safely across the same line that morning, a small miracle on a day that claimed the lives of 1,177 of their Arizona shipmates—approximately half the American fatalaties at Pearl Harbor. Sent to military hospitals for a year, Don refused doctors’ advice to amputate his limbs and battled to relearn how to walk. The U.S. Navy gave him a medical discharge, believing he would never again be fit for service, but Don had unfinished business. In June 1944, he sailed back into the teeth of the Pacific War on a destroyer, destined for combat in the crucial battles of Leyte Gulf, Luzon, and Okinawa, thus earning the distinction of having been present for the opening shots and the final major battle of America’s Second World War. As the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack approaches, Don, a great-grandfather of five and one of six living survivors of the Arizona, offers an unprecedentedly intimate reflection on the tragedy that drew America into the greatest armed conflict in history. All the Gallant Men is a book for the ages, one of the most remarkable—and remarkably inspiring—memoirs of any kind to appear in recent years.


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The most gripping, intimate, and inspiring account of Pearl Harbor. The first memoir ever published by a USS Arizona survivor. At 8:10 a.m. on December 7, 1941, Seaman First Class Donald Stratton was consumed by an inferno. A million pounds of explosives had detonated beneath his battle station aboard the USS Arizona, barely fifteen minutes into Japan’s surprise attack on A The most gripping, intimate, and inspiring account of Pearl Harbor. The first memoir ever published by a USS Arizona survivor. At 8:10 a.m. on December 7, 1941, Seaman First Class Donald Stratton was consumed by an inferno. A million pounds of explosives had detonated beneath his battle station aboard the USS Arizona, barely fifteen minutes into Japan’s surprise attack on American forces at Pearl Harbor. Near death and burned across two thirds of his body, Don, a nineteen-year-old Nebraskan who had been steeled by the Great Depression and Dust Bowl, summoned the will to haul himself hand over hand across a rope tethered to a neighboring vessel. Forty-five feet below, the harbor’s flaming, oil-slick water boiled with enemy bullets; all around him the world tore itself apart. In this extraordinary, never-before-told eyewitness account of the Pearl Harbor attack—the only memoir ever written by a survivor of the USS Arizona—ninety-four-year-old veteran Donald Stratton finally shares his unforgettable personal tale of bravery and survival on December 7, 1941, his harrowing recovery, and his inspiring determination to return to the fight. Don and four other sailors made it safely across the same line that morning, a small miracle on a day that claimed the lives of 1,177 of their Arizona shipmates—approximately half the American fatalaties at Pearl Harbor. Sent to military hospitals for a year, Don refused doctors’ advice to amputate his limbs and battled to relearn how to walk. The U.S. Navy gave him a medical discharge, believing he would never again be fit for service, but Don had unfinished business. In June 1944, he sailed back into the teeth of the Pacific War on a destroyer, destined for combat in the crucial battles of Leyte Gulf, Luzon, and Okinawa, thus earning the distinction of having been present for the opening shots and the final major battle of America’s Second World War. As the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack approaches, Don, a great-grandfather of five and one of six living survivors of the Arizona, offers an unprecedentedly intimate reflection on the tragedy that drew America into the greatest armed conflict in history. All the Gallant Men is a book for the ages, one of the most remarkable—and remarkably inspiring—memoirs of any kind to appear in recent years.

30 review for All the Gallant Men: An American Sailor's Firsthand Account of Pearl Harbor

  1. 5 out of 5

    Larry Warren

    I finished this book last night, the eve the 75th anniversary. I don't know where to begin a review of this book. So I think a small quote from page 109 will say it all. "Dear Lord, Lest I continue My complacent way, Help me to remember that somewhere, Somehow out there A man died for me today. As long as there be war, must answer Am I worth dying for?" Update 12/8/18 I read in this mornings paper. Yesterday for the first time, there were no survivors present from the USS Arizona for the 77th anniversary o I finished this book last night, the eve the 75th anniversary. I don't know where to begin a review of this book. So I think a small quote from page 109 will say it all. "Dear Lord, Lest I continue My complacent way, Help me to remember that somewhere, Somehow out there A man died for me today. As long as there be war, must answer Am I worth dying for?" Update 12/8/18 I read in this mornings paper. Yesterday for the first time, there were no survivors present from the USS Arizona for the 77th anniversary of the attack. The five remaining survivors, Lauren Bruner, 98, Lou Conter, 97, Lonnie Cook, 98, Ken Potts, 97 and Donald Stratton, 97 were unable to travel to Oahu this year. Thank you for your service and the world I grew up in. Thank you Mr Stratton I write this with tears. I read in the paper this morning the Donald Stratton died Saturday 2/15/2020. Lou Conter and Ken Potts are the last survivors of the U.S.S. Arizona. I again thank all WWII Veterans for the world that I grew up in. Thank you.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rita McDowell

    Wow! This is the greatest non fiction book that I have ever read. From the beginning to the end it will grab your heart and move you to tears. I had to read awhile and put it down to dry tears and then pick it up again only to dry tears again. This sailor allows you into the most precious part of him to read what happened that December morning in Pearl harbor and brings the terror of the attack and the loss of so many gallant men into your life. My father served in the Pacific during World War I Wow! This is the greatest non fiction book that I have ever read. From the beginning to the end it will grab your heart and move you to tears. I had to read awhile and put it down to dry tears and then pick it up again only to dry tears again. This sailor allows you into the most precious part of him to read what happened that December morning in Pearl harbor and brings the terror of the attack and the loss of so many gallant men into your life. My father served in the Pacific during World War II and I personally thank this sailor for his story. It truly allows us to see what happened during that War. Thank you Sir for sharing your story and your gallant life with me and the other numerous readers. Your bravery and the bravery of all those that day are truly standards that were set and that we can hope to meet. Extremely well written and very moving. Again thank you for sharing this story with us. God Bless you and your family and thank you again for your brave and gallant service.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Erika Kendron

    What an amazing man and story. When I got to the end and found out he lives in Colorado Springs I emailed my dad (who also lives in the Springs). We are going to visit in August and I would like to buy this man a meal.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Robert Walker

    The memories of a patriot, a war hero, and a great American. If you rate this book anything less than 5 stars you need to have your head examined. Robert Walker

  5. 5 out of 5

    sharon Kay Little

    A love story. A sailor and his ship. The Arizona. Possably the best book I have ever read. Just the right length and not alot of flowery descriptions.. Just the facts and such an emotional feel to Donald Stratton. Loved it and cried thru most of it. I feel that I am well acquainted with Donald Stratton.. Absolutely loved every page.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Becky Moore

    Raw emotion I felt this memoir. It got to me. I could make out the scenes in my mind. The descriptions were palpable. The history rich with sorrow. So sad for the few young people that lived with the horrors of Pearl Harbor etched in their minds. I learned so much from these pages. Humbling. "Have I lived a good life?" Raw emotion I felt this memoir. It got to me. I could make out the scenes in my mind. The descriptions were palpable. The history rich with sorrow. So sad for the few young people that lived with the horrors of Pearl Harbor etched in their minds. I learned so much from these pages. Humbling. "Have I lived a good life?"

  7. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    On my trip to Hawaii last month, I had the privilege of being able to visit Pearl Harbor and spend a few unforgettable hours there. It is a place I wish everyone could visit. I was not prepared for how moved I would be standing at the memorial of the USS Arizona, touring the submarine, USS Bowfin, and walking through the numerous museums on site. Such a powerful reminder of what others sacrificed for the fredoms we now have. I went into the gift shop and for some reason, this book immediately ca On my trip to Hawaii last month, I had the privilege of being able to visit Pearl Harbor and spend a few unforgettable hours there. It is a place I wish everyone could visit. I was not prepared for how moved I would be standing at the memorial of the USS Arizona, touring the submarine, USS Bowfin, and walking through the numerous museums on site. Such a powerful reminder of what others sacrificed for the fredoms we now have. I went into the gift shop and for some reason, this book immediately caught my eye. There were literally dozens of books about survivors of December 7, 1941, for some reason I kept coming back to this book - a memoir of USS Arizona survivor, Donald Stratton. I brought it home with me and immediately gave it to my dad to read. His review of the book in an email to me, brought tears to my eyes, and I knew I had to put down what I was currently reading and pick it up. I’m not sorry I did. What an amazing tale of heroism, survival, and forgiveness. Donald Stratton, an amazing man, who lived 98 years before passing away in February, 2020. On December 7, 1941, after the USS Arizona was hit, Donald and four others made it safely across a rope tied to another ship - a miracle on a day that claimed the lives of 1,177 of their shipmates. He was burned on over thirty percent of his body and spent a year in military hospitals recovering. He refused doctors’ advice to amputate his limbs and eventually learned to walk again. He was given a medical discharge, but he had unfinished business for his country, and in June 1944, he re-entered the Navy, and was stationed aboard a destroyer, which was destined for combat in the crucial battles of the Pacific. What I loved most about the book was Donald’s insight into his battle for forgiveness of those who had taken so much from him. He recounts how at the 25th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, Captain Mitsuo Fuchida, who commanded the first wave of Japanese planes and photographed it so he could document the defeat of the US Navy, but who later in life found God and became a traveling evangelist, also came to the memorial and how he struggled with his feelings and anger toward Fuchida, and how he could not bring himself to shake his hand. He also broached the subject of the bombing of Hiroshima and talked about how the US military put out countless leaflets warning residents to evacuate the area (of which I had no idea). What he said struck me to the core ... “Even if you believe America shouldn’t have used the atomic bomb on Japan, you should know that we tried nearly everything, so we would not have to use it. It was a reluctant last resort. One more thing you should know ... None of us at Pearl Harbor got leaflets like that from the Japanese.” I could go on and on about the nuggets of wisdom I gleaned from this book, but I will simply end this by saying that one of my reading goals for 2020 is to read more memoirs because every time I read one, I learn so much that I can apply to my own life, and All Of The Gallant Men only reaffirms my resolve. I cannot recommend this book highly enough! As George Santayana said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." All the stars for this incredibly moving read.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jeanette

    I wanted to give it a 4, but the writing style jumped and although the time frames were linear, it was difficult to context his life as a whole, IMHO. Not that you didn't get to know Donald and his heroic experiences. And I give him utmost credit for his honesty, credibility to facts and detail, and all his loyalties to service. It was a 3.5 star at least, but I could not round it up because I took it up and down so much. The continuity? Transitions of context were lacking, with some gaps in per I wanted to give it a 4, but the writing style jumped and although the time frames were linear, it was difficult to context his life as a whole, IMHO. Not that you didn't get to know Donald and his heroic experiences. And I give him utmost credit for his honesty, credibility to facts and detail, and all his loyalties to service. It was a 3.5 star at least, but I could not round it up because I took it up and down so much. The continuity? Transitions of context were lacking, with some gaps in periods I would have been interested in, with more detail. And in repetition for other periods. It's a hard, hard story to hear. Especially when he described the kamikaze attacks at the end of the war and what absolute target sailors were on the ships. Night, day, storm whatever- you never knew, there was no "let down". Amazing and beyond valor that he was in at the very beginning of WWII and the very end battle also. This would be an exceptional read for those who have little knowledge of WWII apart from Europe, the Arizona's story itself, or the Japanese front desperation and cost of lives in the Pacific Theater before the bomb was dropped. This was a era in which the type of hero who was a purely "common" man like Donald WAS common in vast numbers. No more. That level of sacrifice is rarer now than it ever was. Individual self-involvement reigns.

  9. 4 out of 5

    David

    5.0 I am glad I read this book on so many levels. It may have been absolutely gutt-wrenching and unbelievably hard to read, but it is such an important book. I will never ever think of December 7th the same ever again. I felt honored to have heard Donald Stratton's story and only wish the story of so many of the young men whose lives were lost that day could also be told. I really appreciated Don Stratton's honesty, humility, love for his lost shipmates and his self-reflective nature. His questi 5.0 I am glad I read this book on so many levels. It may have been absolutely gutt-wrenching and unbelievably hard to read, but it is such an important book. I will never ever think of December 7th the same ever again. I felt honored to have heard Donald Stratton's story and only wish the story of so many of the young men whose lives were lost that day could also be told. I really appreciated Don Stratton's honesty, humility, love for his lost shipmates and his self-reflective nature. His question in the face of the guilt of living while others died, "Have I led a good life" is one that hopefully everyone asks themselves as well..

  10. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    An excellent book who the author survived the U.S.S. Arizona explosion during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7, 1941. Stratton, A seaman first class in the United States Navy suffered burns across two thirds of his body. After recovering, He reenlisted and fought in the battles of Leyte Gulf, Luzon, and Okinawa. One of the best firsthand accounts on the attack on Pearl Harbor by one of the survivors of the Arizona.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    Never having read anything about WWII and generally disliking books on military history, I found this book honest and idealistic. It was a fascinating glimpse of the sinking of the USS Arizona and the men who either went down with it or survived. I was impressed with the sense of honor of sailors mentioned in the book.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    What a poignant, well written book. My high rating, I know, is in part emotional. My grandfathers brother was killed in Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941. He was one of the only two soldiers killed on the USS Helena. He was taking position at his battle station when he was killed instantly by shrapnel. I wish I had known him; the gallant man from my family. Reading about others and the horror they experienced makes my heart ache for what he had to endure and for my missed opportunity, in this life, What a poignant, well written book. My high rating, I know, is in part emotional. My grandfathers brother was killed in Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941. He was one of the only two soldiers killed on the USS Helena. He was taking position at his battle station when he was killed instantly by shrapnel. I wish I had known him; the gallant man from my family. Reading about others and the horror they experienced makes my heart ache for what he had to endure and for my missed opportunity, in this life, to have a relationship with my great-uncle and to see the man he was growing up to be. This story hits on every point just enough not to bog down the overall powerful message with minute details. But what keeps coming to my mind, even after finishing, is the message Eleanor Roosevelt kept in her wallet from the rest of her life following the attacks on Pearl Harbor. It's entitled "Wartime Prayer." Dear Lord,. Lest I continue. My complacent way, Help me to remember that somewhere, Somehow out there. A man died for me today. As long as there be war, I then must. Ask and answer. Am I worth dying for? That last sentence, "am I worth dying for" makes me want to be a better person. It makes me want to always remember the sacrifice so many have made, and continue to make, so that I may enjoy the freedoms I take for granted daily. I'm grateful to the gallant men of World War 1, my uncle, and this beautiful tribute on their behalf.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Exceeds expectations. The writing was good. The voice was clear. I learned so much from it. The telling of the events of Pearl Harbor and afterwards was so matter of fact. The narrative was not colored in emotional language the way things like this often are. You only see glimpses of Stratton's emotions peeking through until the end where he opens up more. You could see how deeply buried the events of Pearl Harbor and the war were buried inside him, how he was never the same after that day. And Exceeds expectations. The writing was good. The voice was clear. I learned so much from it. The telling of the events of Pearl Harbor and afterwards was so matter of fact. The narrative was not colored in emotional language the way things like this often are. You only see glimpses of Stratton's emotions peeking through until the end where he opens up more. You could see how deeply buried the events of Pearl Harbor and the war were buried inside him, how he was never the same after that day. And how could you be? Stratton's story made me think of things in a way I never had before. For instance, how when a person's life is stolen from them we not only lose a life but also his or her future, potential, and the children and family that could have been. Likewise, when a life is saved it impacts the present and also the future in a big way. It was touching how Stratton looked forward to meeting the daughter of the man who saved him and introducing his children and grandchildren to her so that she could see the future that her father created. Stratton also highlighted the idea of living ones life in such a way that it is worth the sacrifices that made it possible. He strove to live a worthy life because he was saved when so many were not. It would likely be a better world if we all did the same and made our lives worth the very dear price that was paid for them.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Shauna

    Wow. This book was fascinating. Horrifying. Historical. Biographical. The author and writer did a great job verifying facts, gathering photos and information, and getting the book published for the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Donald Stratton was one of only 335 sailors who survived the bombing of the USS Arizona that day. One of five who were still alive 75 years later. I learned so much from this book. My husband bought it last week when we visited the memorial at P Wow. This book was fascinating. Horrifying. Historical. Biographical. The author and writer did a great job verifying facts, gathering photos and information, and getting the book published for the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Donald Stratton was one of only 335 sailors who survived the bombing of the USS Arizona that day. One of five who were still alive 75 years later. I learned so much from this book. My husband bought it last week when we visited the memorial at Pearl Harbor. So much history on this beautiful Hawaiian island of Oahu. They truly were the greatest generation—military and civilians. Americans.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mark Warren

    This story from the inside will be a rich read to anyone wanting to know more about Pearl Harbor. For all the mistakes that were made by U.S. military that allowed this attack to go to fruition, I am so impressed with America's ability to bounce back to rebuild its Navy. But the heart of this story is the extreme sacrifice, heroism, suffering, and death toll. To hear this in the words of one who barely survived it is to experience one morning of hell on Earth. Correction, make that years of hell This story from the inside will be a rich read to anyone wanting to know more about Pearl Harbor. For all the mistakes that were made by U.S. military that allowed this attack to go to fruition, I am so impressed with America's ability to bounce back to rebuild its Navy. But the heart of this story is the extreme sacrifice, heroism, suffering, and death toll. To hear this in the words of one who barely survived it is to experience one morning of hell on Earth. Correction, make that years of hell on Earth.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Donald Stratton, a Nebraska farm boy, was at Pearl Harbour on December 7, 1941, on the USS Arizona and his account of that day and his other WW2 service (including Okinawa, book-ending campaigns of the Pacific War) and his tributes to the shipmates he lost that day, and thoughts on both the war and Japan are fascinating. A wonderful piece of writing, showing the real human side of one of the most fateful days in history. What he went through...jaw-dropping. A stunning memoir.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    He tells of the frustration and heartbreak that his family and others went through as they waited to know if their sons were returning. I empathized every moment. The audio was wonderful. I imagined the narrator (Mike Ortego) to be Don Stratton himself. He sounded so conversational, as if he was speaking directly to me. What I was not aware of was that Commander Mitsuo Fuchida - who led the attack on PH, had become a farmer in Japan and did not like being forgotten. He decided to become a Christ He tells of the frustration and heartbreak that his family and others went through as they waited to know if their sons were returning. I empathized every moment. The audio was wonderful. I imagined the narrator (Mike Ortego) to be Don Stratton himself. He sounded so conversational, as if he was speaking directly to me. What I was not aware of was that Commander Mitsuo Fuchida - who led the attack on PH, had become a farmer in Japan and did not like being forgotten. He decided to become a Christian Evangelist. I am sure to get rich in addition to being in the limelight again. At one point he came to the US, with a few Zero pilots still living, to the Arizona Memorial. He brought a film crew and wanted to film the Arizona survivors and the Japanese pilots shaking hands! Don was there and was asked if he would participate (he declined of course)…. his response was wonderful (he wanted to say a few choice words but didn't). And so were a few other comments made by others. There is so much in this book besides that horrendous day. The lives he noticed around him during that time, Don’s time in the burn units, his re-enlistment and most important, his thoughts. I noticed a FB page just for him, (I signed up) and a WWII’s Foundation DVD about Joe George who risked his life and went against orders to save a few lives. “Lifeline Pearl Harbor’s Unknown Hero”.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Laurie

    What an incredible story. One of the few remaining survivors of WWII tells his story as one of the even fewer remaining survivors of Pearl Harbor. Stratton was aboard the USS Arizona, where nearly half of the deaths on that day came from. He tells a remarkable history of remarkable people making remarkable choices, including himself as far as any reader is concerned. I struggled to get through this short book because I had to keep setting it aside due to emotions. No crying on the gym treadmill, What an incredible story. One of the few remaining survivors of WWII tells his story as one of the even fewer remaining survivors of Pearl Harbor. Stratton was aboard the USS Arizona, where nearly half of the deaths on that day came from. He tells a remarkable history of remarkable people making remarkable choices, including himself as far as any reader is concerned. I struggled to get through this short book because I had to keep setting it aside due to emotions. No crying on the gym treadmill, or in the car right before walking in to work, etc! This is easily recommendable.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    This book is a great combination of author and sailor who survived the sinking of the USS Arizona at Hawaii of December 7, 1941 driving the US into World War II. Donald Stratton was a teenager living in Nebraska on that fatal day, he was born and raised in Nebraska, his parents poor as will be described by the author. Stratton is 96 years of age now, there are but 5 members of the crew of the Arizona remaining but he has a great memory and as he tells all early in the book during discussions wit This book is a great combination of author and sailor who survived the sinking of the USS Arizona at Hawaii of December 7, 1941 driving the US into World War II. Donald Stratton was a teenager living in Nebraska on that fatal day, he was born and raised in Nebraska, his parents poor as will be described by the author. Stratton is 96 years of age now, there are but 5 members of the crew of the Arizona remaining but he has a great memory and as he tells all early in the book during discussions with the other 4 survivors and their memoirs was able to put this book together. One can't really say much as most have probably read books or studied in school about these events, even so I highly recommend everyone read it.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

    Finishing this book on the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, I wanted to LOVE it. Unfortunately, it is just okay. I was hoping for a more personal memoir, such as UNBROKEN, but found the first 85% of this work to be a history lesson. Don Stratton is finally shown in a more personal way for the last 15% of the book, but I almost didn't make it there. Mr. Stratton is a man to be admired as a hero, but this writing was highly inspirational. I blame part of that on the actual writer, Ken Girl. Some of Finishing this book on the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, I wanted to LOVE it. Unfortunately, it is just okay. I was hoping for a more personal memoir, such as UNBROKEN, but found the first 85% of this work to be a history lesson. Don Stratton is finally shown in a more personal way for the last 15% of the book, but I almost didn't make it there. Mr. Stratton is a man to be admired as a hero, but this writing was highly inspirational. I blame part of that on the actual writer, Ken Girl. Some of the blame must fall on the publisher for rushing a mediocre book to market to coincide with the 75th anniversary. More time devoted to the fleshing out of this book might have led to a more satisfying read.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    Brief, moving memoir focusing on an account of the attack on Pearl Harbor by one of the last living survivors of the ARIZONA. The book was everything I hoped it would be and more. I learned that the ship had collided with OKLAHOMA in late November and was consequently in port at Pearl instead of in a shipyard in Bremerton, WA for a scheduled overhaul on December 7, 1941. Donald Stratton endured burns over 70% of his body and, after mostly recovering from his injuries, actually reenlisted and ser Brief, moving memoir focusing on an account of the attack on Pearl Harbor by one of the last living survivors of the ARIZONA. The book was everything I hoped it would be and more. I learned that the ship had collided with OKLAHOMA in late November and was consequently in port at Pearl instead of in a shipyard in Bremerton, WA for a scheduled overhaul on December 7, 1941. Donald Stratton endured burns over 70% of his body and, after mostly recovering from his injuries, actually reenlisted and served on the USS STACK (DD-406) through the invasion of Okinawa. It's powerful to be reminded in such a personal way how much we owe to the World War II generation.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kay Schuch

    An excellent read by a man who lived through Pearl Harbor! A 'gallant' man who felt we should hear his story! I am so glad he was brave enough to share it! Thanks for serving and now for sharing! I definitely understand the difference between brave heroes and gallant men, of which you most certainly are of the gallant variety! An excellent read by a man who lived through Pearl Harbor! A 'gallant' man who felt we should hear his story! I am so glad he was brave enough to share it! Thanks for serving and now for sharing! I definitely understand the difference between brave heroes and gallant men, of which you most certainly are of the gallant variety!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    I have ready many books that deal with this period in history, having a first person account makes it all the more real, very touching. The author's hope for forgiveness in the kingdom to come shows such true humanity. I have ready many books that deal with this period in history, having a first person account makes it all the more real, very touching. The author's hope for forgiveness in the kingdom to come shows such true humanity.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Linda Munro

    I am positive that I have mentioned this in previous reviews; but, once again; I am extremely involved in learning as much as possible about World War II, specifically the Pacific Theater. It was this area which changed a great deal of World History in regards to the United States. It was also this area that shaped the young man who would become my father; thus shaping even my own life. For the second time while giving a review, I must say that this book holds not only a well portrayed history; b I am positive that I have mentioned this in previous reviews; but, once again; I am extremely involved in learning as much as possible about World War II, specifically the Pacific Theater. It was this area which changed a great deal of World History in regards to the United States. It was also this area that shaped the young man who would become my father; thus shaping even my own life. For the second time while giving a review, I must say that this book holds not only a well portrayed history; but, also all of the best written material that a writer of fictional thrillers would use to enthrall his or her reading audience. This history was written in conjunction with the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Pear Harbor. It allows the reader, not simply a first person account of the event and what would follow; but a true feeling of what it was like to be on a ship (The USS Arizona) during the attack. The book introduces the reader to a 19-year-old American Seaman, First Class Donald Stratton who instantly became a man as friends and shipmates vanished around him. The reader is given a not just a history and biography of some of the men who perished that day; but an in-depth look at what those men beloved human beings. It also proves how the country (USA) banned together as one to help with the war effort. It shows how an average person can, in an instant become prejudice against an entire culture, and how that prejudice and hatred can linger throughout the years. It offers an inside look at a person, burned over 65% of his body, with bombs and bullets flying at him can muster the strength to survive. This book reveals what it takes not only to survive; but, also to learn once again, the little things in life, from walking to re-enlisting to continue to fight for our country. This book gave me a great deal of understanding of what the soldiers, sailors, etc. of the United States who fought in the Pacific Theater went through; not just the battles, but the physical and psychological horrors that were endured. This book, above all others, has helped me to understand what happened to my own father; to understand his views and his nightmares; but, most of all, it helped me understand how a person can go from wanting nothing more than to be out of the service to wanting nothing more than being involved with the war effort. This is a 10 Star book. I am defiantly glad I read it and suggest that everyone, whether or not WWII directly affected your life should read it too.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly

    Donald Stratton is one of five living survivors (as of the writing of the book and this review) of the USS Arizona. Since no survivor has written a memoir, Stratton figured that he should tell the story of the Arizona before there was no left. The title of the book comes from the words at the WWII Valor in the Pacific Memorial: TO THE MEMORY OF THE GALLANT MEN HERE ENTOMBED AND THEIR SHIPMATES WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN ACTION ON DECEMBER 7, 1941 Like many young men of that time, Stratton signed up for t Donald Stratton is one of five living survivors (as of the writing of the book and this review) of the USS Arizona. Since no survivor has written a memoir, Stratton figured that he should tell the story of the Arizona before there was no left. The title of the book comes from the words at the WWII Valor in the Pacific Memorial: TO THE MEMORY OF THE GALLANT MEN HERE ENTOMBED AND THEIR SHIPMATES WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN ACTION ON DECEMBER 7, 1941 Like many young men of that time, Stratton signed up for the Navy to provide a steady paycheck for his Depression-stricken, Dust Bowl family. And even though it's been 75 years, memories of things seen that day--and his Navy service in general--remain sharp and strong. I thought I knew about Pearl Harbor, since I'd read books and visited the memorial, but this contained the details that I'd never imagined. Stories of men who died that day (his friends and acquaintances), of their families, of the men and women who helped the survivors. The list of names at the memorial is more to Stratton, because they are actually men that he knew. Some things I found particularly interesting: (view spoiler)[ * The descriptions of the destruction of the ship, of the flying shrapnel and body parts... (shiver) The descriptions of the burned seamen trying to escape the burning ships and oily waters... Of trying to save those trapped or identify the dead... It's things like this that even the Pearl Harbor movie didn't capture. * It took 13 days for the family of one of his shipmates to receive word that their son/brother was dead. 13 days! That seems so unfathomable in this day of instant communication, even though the same sort of thing happened after 9/11 because no one was sure who was in the building and who wasn't. * He still hasn't forgiven the Japanese military for what it did. It's understandable, considering what he went through. I really appreciate his honesty, saying that the scars (literal and figurative) are still fresh, even after all this time. * His sweet appreciation for the men and women who helped at the hospital, who worked long hours and tried to help every man that they could. Who did their best to make sure that no one died alone. (hide spoiler)] Pearl Harbor feels like history now, shadowed by 9/11, but there are still those who remember it, and I appreciated reading this book. I definitely recommend it.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Missy

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. UPDATE: Although I do have this on my Kindle, I did end up checking the book out from my local library because they actually had it and I really do love reading from real books. But what a coincidence that Donald Stratton passed away on Feb 15, 2020...the very day I returned this book back to the library. This is not just another war story. This is the first “memoir” written of one’s personal experience on the USS ARIZONA before, during, and after the sneak attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet in Pe UPDATE: Although I do have this on my Kindle, I did end up checking the book out from my local library because they actually had it and I really do love reading from real books. But what a coincidence that Donald Stratton passed away on Feb 15, 2020...the very day I returned this book back to the library. This is not just another war story. This is the first “memoir” written of one’s personal experience on the USS ARIZONA before, during, and after the sneak attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor. And since it was published just a few years ago, in 2016, and only 5 men were left alive who served on that ship, I’m thinking this may be the last as well. Donald G. Stratton is still alive today, age 97, and living in Colorado Springs. To date, there are now only 3 men from the USS ARIZONA alive today. There were 185 ships of the U.S. Pacific Fleet that were moored up inside the harbor the morning of Sunday, Dec 7, 1941. Of the 1,512 sailors on the USS ARIZONA, 345 men survived. From beginning to end, this story is very engaging. I learned so much that I had never known before about this war. You can follow Donald G. Stratton on his Facebook page. Don Stratton is a southern Nebraska boy, born in 1922 in rural Inavale. His dad was one of the poor sharecroppers and their family barely survived the 1930’s “dust bowl”. During the dust bowl years, the family packed up and headed just a little way east to a little town called Red Cloud, where he would grow up and graduate high in 1940, just in time to enlist in the military, as war was looming in the horizon. The Nazi’s were conquering France, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Poland, the Netherlands, along with Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia. And the Japanese were conquering Korea, Manchuria, and Mainland china, while pretending peace-talks with the U.S. But, like most young men, having still feeling the effects of the Great Depression, Don joined because he was to receive a steady paycheck, daily meals, and free room and board. He enlisted in September 1940 and was shipped off to Great Lakes, Illinois for basic training. Sixty-seven years later, in September 2007, my son joined the Navy and was also shipped off to the same facility for basic training. Stratton was then stationed on the USS ARIZONA, which was being overhauled in the Naval shipyard out of Bremerton, Washington. He spent his first 3 months of service basically scraping barnacles off the bottom of the ship, then they sailed down the coast to Long Beach, California, to stock up before making the 5-day long journey to Pearl Harbor, in the south coast Hawaiian island of Oahu. They arrived in Pearl Harbor just eight months before the sneak attack by the Japanese, which occurred on December 7, 1941. The USS ARIZONA was supposed to head back to Bremerton, Washington, to be overhauled again in the Navy shipyard in November of that year, but as fate would have it, the ship was side-swiped by the USS OKLAHOMA while on maneuvers and had to be placed in the yards there at Hawaii. They weren't going home for Christmas. He was in the placed in the 6th Division aboard the USS ARIZONA and was director of the port antiaircraft on the sky-control platform. A couple of the photos in the book mark where he was at his station as the ship was being bombed and exploding. One photo of the ship was taken by the Japanese from aircraft just as it was being bombed. The airplanes were flying so close that he actually saw the face of one Japanese as he flew by, with a mocking smile on his face and waving. A total of 2,403 were killed that day at Pearl Harbor. Stratton re-enlisted in the Navy again and went through boot training once again at Farragut, Ohio. He served on the USS STACK at the battle of Leyte Gulf in, a fierce 3-day battle in October 1944 and at the invasion of Okinawa, the largest amphibious landing in the Pacific theater. The Japanese had 5 lading strips built here, so it was important to cripple this entry. Leading the campaign were 1,213 Navy ships of which Stratton was a part of, along with 461,866 other service men. The ships created a circular barrier around Okinawa to protect the amphibious transports to the beach and pounded the beach with gunfire to help the men land on the beach so maybe our men would have a fighting chance. Here, the movies never gave a hint of what the Navy ships were going through as well as the men being transported to the beach. The problem was the Japanese had created suicide bomb planes, called "kamikaze". The Oka (a.k.a. Kamikaze) planes were built super lightweight less than 1,000 pounds so it could carry 4,000 pounds of fuel and explosives, which was carried in the nose section. Between October 25, 1944 and the end of the war in August of 1945, the Japanese had launched 4,000 suicide missions. For the Navy on watch out at sea at Okinawa, this was the thing they feared the most. One in seven were successful in sinking a ship or severely damaging it. By the time it was all said-and-done, the Navy lost 15 of its picket ships and another 45 were damaged. On those ships, we lost 1,348 sailors and 1,585 were wounded. Stratton goes into the reasons why the U.S. decided to drop the atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. While the Japanese marched across China, attacked Pearl Harbor without warning, and overtook the islands in the South Pacific, and news spread of the murdering our prisoners of war, and the torturous Bataan March, ignoring the voices of even their own people, we had tried everything, working up to the atomic bombs...warnings, embargoes, trade restrictions, sanctions, then bombing certain cities, such as Tokyo, and 25 other cities. In Iwo Jima and Okinawa, the Japanese had huge losses. At Iwo Jima, the U.S. lost 7,600, while the Japanese lost 19,000; and at Okinawa, the U.S. lost 7,600, while the Japanese lost 110,000 men. Still they would not surrender. Dropping the nuclear bombs was the only language they understood. America gave the citizens warning of the bomb by dropping 5 million leaflets of what's to come and encouraging them to leave certain cities that were potential targets. One week after the bombs were dropped, the Japanese surrendered. On September 2, 1945, the documents of Japan's surrender was signed. ---------- The best documentary about the USS ARIZONA is Discovery Channel's "Pearl Harbor: Death of the Arizona". Books he mentioned that might be worth looking into: 1. You Can't Go Home Again: A Novel - Thomas Wolfe 2. He mentions the book, "The Worst Hard Time". 3. Book 1 - At Dawn We Slept: The Untold Story of Pearl Harbor - Gordon W. Prange 4. Book 2 - Pearl Harbor: The Verdict of History - Gordon W. Prange 5. Look into other books about the Republican River Flood of 1935, which killed nearly a hundred people in Red Cloud, and others in surrounding towns. The great flood only flooded out Don Stratton’s family’s basement. His father helped with the cleanup, and made money, using his team of horses to haul away trees and piles of debri that had been washed into town. ----------

  27. 5 out of 5

    Gloria Piper

    Stratton grew up poor on a farm, which saw increased poverty during the Great Depression. Like many others he enlisted in the military for the secure pay. He found himself assigned to the Arizona in the garden spot of Hawaii. Soon he bonded with his shipmates on a huge ship that was a community in itself, complete with shops and a band. The attack on Pearl Harbor lasted 2 hours. It could have been avoided if the upper brass had overcome their arrogance and paid heed to the warnings that came the Stratton grew up poor on a farm, which saw increased poverty during the Great Depression. Like many others he enlisted in the military for the secure pay. He found himself assigned to the Arizona in the garden spot of Hawaii. Soon he bonded with his shipmates on a huge ship that was a community in itself, complete with shops and a band. The attack on Pearl Harbor lasted 2 hours. It could have been avoided if the upper brass had overcome their arrogance and paid heed to the warnings that came their way. Stratton tells us why Japan attacked and how the US gave Japan warning after warning before driven to drop the atomic bombs. I was glad to learn of the reluctance and why bombing was necessary. The Japanese military had a deeply ingrained code that believed in honor above life. It took nuclear catastrophe to convince her to surrender. And I was also glad to learn that the US response was not punitive but showed a desire to rebuild Japan as a peaceful nation. The Emperor would remain to oversee the rebuilding. There is so much detail that the history books don't provide. The attack and its aftermath, the civilian response to the attack, the political response. The unsung heroes, both men and women of all races and backgrounds. The horror of the attack and loss of lives haunts Stratton for the rest of his life, although he speaks little of it. His anger remains directed at the Japanese military, even though those who remain have changed over the years. Here is an important book that puts us at the scene.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Colleen

    I've had this on my list since the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor which is when the book came out. My WWII reading has mostly been about the war in Europe so this was very enlightening. Nineteen year old Donald Stratton lived through that horrific day but was severely burned. Following a long recovery, he eventually re-enlisted and has the distinction of being the only documented soldier to be at the first (Pearl Harbor) and the last (Okinawa) battles of the war. Not only is it his story, but I've had this on my list since the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor which is when the book came out. My WWII reading has mostly been about the war in Europe so this was very enlightening. Nineteen year old Donald Stratton lived through that horrific day but was severely burned. Following a long recovery, he eventually re-enlisted and has the distinction of being the only documented soldier to be at the first (Pearl Harbor) and the last (Okinawa) battles of the war. Not only is it his story, but he uses many other references to tell the stories of his fellow Navy seamen. Plus, he helps us understand what led up to the attack and where the country fell short in preparedness. Stratton wants us to remember the lessons of Pearl Harbor and so agreed to work with writer Ken Gire to bring his story to the public. This is an excellent overview of the attack and subsequent war effort in the Pacific. Very worthwhile read.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Alicia

    Oh, how I loved this. A veteran who was on the USS Arizona and lost many friends in the attack relates his experiences in the military and in the war. I listened to the gripping account of the attack on Pearl Harbor twice, in tears over what these brave heroes endured because they loved the USA. We need more courageous young people like these brave soldiers, today. I will forever remember Joe George, who defied the orders of an officer to save the lives of this book’s author and 5 others who wer Oh, how I loved this. A veteran who was on the USS Arizona and lost many friends in the attack relates his experiences in the military and in the war. I listened to the gripping account of the attack on Pearl Harbor twice, in tears over what these brave heroes endured because they loved the USA. We need more courageous young people like these brave soldiers, today. I will forever remember Joe George, who defied the orders of an officer to save the lives of this book’s author and 5 others who were severely burned and would’ve died on the sinking ship without Joe’s help. (you can read about Joe here: https://www.nps.gov/perl/learn/histor...) What an amazing book. Highly recommended. He quoted this touching poem that Eleanor Roosevelt carried in her wallet: Lest I continue My complacent way, Help me to remember that somewhere, Somehow out there A man died for me today. As long as there be war, I then must Ask and answer Am I worth dying for?

  30. 4 out of 5

    Nina O'Daniels

    This non-fictional account of the attack on Pearl Harbor is no-nonsense and no frills. Donald Stratton was stationed on the USS Arizona the day of the attack and was one of the few to survive. Perfect for those looking for a quick read with some punch. The reminders of this generation's motivation, work ethic, comradery, and unity allow insight into the "Greatest Generation" and their beliefs. Stratton's harrowing story is one of many, and he's finally telling it as a 94-year old-man. Thankfully This non-fictional account of the attack on Pearl Harbor is no-nonsense and no frills. Donald Stratton was stationed on the USS Arizona the day of the attack and was one of the few to survive. Perfect for those looking for a quick read with some punch. The reminders of this generation's motivation, work ethic, comradery, and unity allow insight into the "Greatest Generation" and their beliefs. Stratton's harrowing story is one of many, and he's finally telling it as a 94-year old-man. Thankfully, he knows the importance getting these stories into the hands of anyone willing to listen. The politics of the day still hold water, and it was interesting to see the mindset of our leaders of the day. It's been a while since I've studied this and I needed the reminder.

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