Note to media: Media are welcome to attend both the Dec. 5 and the Dec. 8 events. For those interested in attending the Dec. 5 events, please RSVP by Wednesday, Dec. 4 at noon to Lori Harwood, director of external relations for the UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, at 520-626-3846 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
With fewer than one dozen of the 355 surviving USS Arizona crew members still alive and with few healthy enough to travel, this is the final year an annual ceremony that has been held in Tucson for years to honor the survivors. The University of Arizona has for years co-hosted the event with the USS Arizona Reunion Association honor of National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.
The following events are planned:
Lauren Bruner, 93, who survived the bombing of the battleship in Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, will visit the UA and speak to UA students and veterans. Bruner is also participating in the Dec. 8 USS Arizona Ceremony.
Bruner was a petty officer 3rd class on the USS Arizona when the Japanese bombed the battleship, killing 1,177 officers and crewmen, representing the greatest loss of life on any U.S. warship in history. He was shot in the leg and received burns over 70 percent of his body. After seven months of rehabilitation, Bruner was sent back to war on the destroyer USS Coghlan and participated in eight major battles.
"We are honored that Bruner will be able to meet with our students and veterans and provide a first-person account of that historical day as well as of his experiences in WWII," said John Paul Jones III, dean of the UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, which is co-sponsoring Bruner's visit.
Bruner will speak at 12:20 p.m. in the Student VETS Center on the fourth floor of the Student Union Memorial Center, 1303 E. University Blvd. Seating is limited, so members of the public who are interested in attending must call 520-626-3454 in advance.
Bruner’s visit is sponsored by the UA Special Collections, Student Affairs’ Veterans Education and Transition Services, the Arizona Student Unions and the state and federal relations offices.
The UA Veterans Alumni Club will hold "Remembering the Fallen" from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in the Student Union Memorial Center Rotunda, located on the first floor of the Student Union.
The USS Arizona Reunion Association and the UA’s Naval ROTC unit will present the USS Arizona Ceremony, which is slated to be the association’s final event in Tucson involving USS Arizona survivors.
Hundreds of people are expected to attend the ceremony, which will be held 9:30-11 a.m. on the UA Mall just south of the Administration building, 1401 E. University Blvd.
UA President Ann Weaver Hart and U.S. Rep. Ron Barber are scheduled to speak during the ceremony, which will include a reading of poetry, a presentation by the Army Band from Fort Huachuca and a bell ringing in honor of the eight Arizona residents entombed on the USS Arizona.
In addition to Bruner, USS Arizona survivor Donald Stratton will attend the ceremony. Stratton served as a seaman 1st class on the USS Arizona.
During the ceremony, the UA’s Navy ROTC will be in attendance along with representatives from the UA’s Army and Air Force ROTC programs.
"Being that the UA has a connection with the battle ship USS Arizona, this makes our connection very close with the survivors," said Cmdr. Bruce Grissom, executive officer of the UA Naval ROTC unit and an associate professor of naval science.
This is an "opportunity to honor and commemorate those who served and who sacrificed their lives in order to change the course of history," Grissom said. "We take that opportunity very seriously, honor their service and thank them for their service."