COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo - A December 7th, Pearl Harbor survival story. I had the honor of meeting 90 year old Donald Stratton. He's a man who really lives our Wear Red Friday Hero mantra. Stratton is one of a handful or remaining USS Arizona survivors.
The Arizona is a monument to the surprise attack by Japan that brought our country into World War Two and American resiliency. Stratton told me he heard the planes and did his duty. He was among those firing until his ship was hit and going down. He told me, "We couldn't fire toward the sub base because another ship was in the way. We couldn't fire back in our own direction because we would have fired on our own super structure. We fired at the high altitude bombers."
Stratton is like living history about a period that so many only see in the movies or read about. He went on about the battle telling me, "We got hit by a big bomb. A little more than a million pounds of ammo exploded. The explosion was just horrendous. A fireball went up five to six hundred feet in the air. It engulfed us where we were at. The Arizona burned for about three and a half days."
Stratton was also severely burned over his legs, both arms and he lost part of his ear and nose. He was hospitalized for a year and still went on to fight again in World War Two.
A few weeks ago, he and his family were honored at a Denver Broncos game for his duty and service to country. He has a reminder of that special moment with an autographed football that sits proudly on his television.
Last year was the 70th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. He went back to the Arizona memorial and told me, "One of the things that hit me is to be back 70 years later and raise the flag over the ship with all my shipmates still aboard. It was kind of, well you know. Maybe you don't know the feeling, I do."
That's why we chose Donald Stratton as our Wear Red Friday Hero. Duty, Honor, Country. He's someone who embodies all three of those words.
If you have someone you would like to nominate for our Wear Red Friday Hero, go to our front page and click on the nomination form. We appreciate your hero at KRDO, NewsChannel 13, even though we may not be able to showcase them. I promise I will very carefully read each and every nomination.