- One of just a few remaining survivors of the attack on the USS Arizona was interred in its wreckage on the 78th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harvor.
- Divers brought the remains of Lauren Bruner into the heart of the wreckage wearing World War II-era diving suits.
- “In retrospect, it’s very historical and super-cool, but it’s kind of uncomfortable,” one of the divers said.
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Pearl Harbour survivor Lauren Bruner was laid to rest aboard the sunken remains of the USS Arizona with the help of two Army divers in diving gear from the period.
Army 7th Dive Detachment Divers SSG Fred Bible and SPC Julio Melendez wore lead boots and a drysuit – weighing a total of 220 pounds – and the last two Mark 5 vintage hard hats certified for operational use on the dive.
Bruner, who died on September 10, at 98 years old, was interred on the wreck of the Arizona on December 7, the 78th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour.
After Bruner’s death, only three Arizona crew members are still alive today.
According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Bruner survived the attack on the Arizona by going hand over hand across a rope stretched 70 feet above the harbour. Forty-four other survivors have had their remains interred on the ship, alongside their more than 900 shipmates who went down with the ship during the attack.
Bruner will be the last survivor to be interred on the wreckage, the Star-Advertiser reports; he was the second-to-last man to escape the flaming ship, according to CNN.
SSG Fred Bible and SPC Julio Melendez wore vintage diving suits to place Bruner’s ashes in the well of barbette number four.
Bruner suffered burns on 80% of his body, but went back into service after he healed. He served aboard the USS Coghlan in eight other battles against Japan’s forces, CNN reports.
The diving suits are similar to what salvage divers would have worn on salvage missions into Pearl Harbour.
The Mark 5 helmet and dive suit was used from 1916 until the 1980s, according to the US Naval Undersea Museum.
“In retrospect, it’s very historical and super-cool, but it’s kind of uncomfortable,” Melendez told the Star-Advertiser. “It’s super heavy and it’s kind of amazing to think that it took so long to kind of upgrade it.”
Underwater, Melendez and Bible walked about 200 feet along the wreckage of the Arizona before they brought Bruner’s remains to their final resting place.
While the Navy has performed this kind of ceremony before for other Pearl Harbour survivors, the divers have always worn modern diving kits.
“I think it was a really fitting tribute and I think it’s an interesting way to kind of close out the last of the interments – to have it done not only with the ceremony that we normally do, but to have historic hardhats like it would have been during the salvage in World War II,” Brett Seymour, the deputy chief of the National Park Service’s Submerged Resources Centre, told the Star-Advertiser.
“We’ve never done an interment with hardhats for sure,” Seymour told the Star-Advertiser.
“It was historical. I was left speechless, honestly,” Melendez told the Star-Advertiser. “It was a very in-the-moment experience. Just kind of taking it all in and realising what we were doing and the history that’s being made and remembering Lauren Bruner and everything that he had done.”
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