One of the few remaining survivors from the USS Arizona, sunk on Dec. 7, 1941, with the loss of nearly 1,200 lives, died late last week at age 91.
Vernon Olsen, then just 21 years old, scrambled to his battle station atop the after mast of the Arizona that fateful Sunday morning nearly 70 years ago when Japanese planes struck.
Years later, he would tell of seeing a Japanese bomber coming in between the ship’s masts to drop a bomb while Olsen, manning a 50-caliber machine gun, waited helplessly for ammunition.
The plane was so close that Olsen could see the Japanese pilot grinning, he said in 1998 interview with the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. When the bomb exploded, it all but obliterated the ship.