Lauren F. Bruner's Dream Gift To America
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My Ship, My Crew, My Dream

"I would like to invite you to help me honor my friends, my buddies, and my fellow crew members of the USS Arizona."
Lauren Fay Bruner

Lauren Bruner today
Lauren Bruner 
"Me Today"
Welcome to My Dream

Thank you for considering to help me with My Dream Gift to America.

Today, I am one of the last surviving crew members of this Great Warship and I have just celebrated my 95th Birthday.  Through your help and that of my researching teams I have already begun to research my fellow crew members' biographies and personal stories and will then commission portraits of each crew member who was with me aboard the USS Arizona on December 7, 1941.

With whatever size gift you might choose to make, it will help me complete one of my last dreams, which is to honor my fellow crew members of the USS Arizona whose spirits now rest as a part of the USS Arizona Memorial.

Please consider for a moment and know that with whatever gift you decide to make, all those who visit the Shrine Wall of the Arizona Memorial will not only be able to read the names of my fellow crew members, but will, within a two year period, be able to meet each crew member and see what each man looked like.

Once completed, My Dream Gift To America will allow visitors to Pearl Harbor to touch the name of any crew member of the Arizona from a touchscreen kiosk and then be able to see what he looked like, how tall he was, and even the color of his eyes. These kiosks will be made available to the National Park Service at Pearl Harbor as my gift through your help.

As part of each man's story, through this kiosk, you will even be able to enter your personal zip code and then will automatically be able to learn which crew member of the Arizona lived closest to you.

Although this dream may sound like a mammoth project to some, to me, and with your help, it is all now possible through technology and hard work. My research teams have already begun this task, but in order to continue I would like to ask your help with whatever gift you might like to make.

Al Johnson is my National Director of Dream Gift To America and oversees all research teams. Al and his wife Lyn continue to visit the National Archives in Saint Louis, MO, where all US Military records are stored. After locating a USS Arizona crew member, a detailed biography is then written on each man to share. Should you wish to help Al and Lyn research the crew of the USS Arizona, they would be grateful, and Al can be contacted through

One of the things that your research would help Al accomplish would be to help locate old photographs of each crew member from which the portraits that I will commission will be drawn.

Now that I have explained My Dream Gift To America as best I can, please consider allowing me to make my dream yours, as I believe it may become one of the single best gifts you have ever given back to America.

For every dollar or more that you gift, your individual name and those of each of your family members will forever be linked as my personal friends and friends of the Crew of the USS Arizona.

The photo below of my ship is one of the most beautiful that I have ever seen, and I would invite you to hover your mouse cursor over the photo in order to see its detail and members of my crew. My good friend, Rear Admiral Frank Ponds recently explained to me as I had forgotten, that my ship below is considered in Full Dress. It is beautiful and brings back many memories.

USS Arizona in full dress
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"My Ship the USS Arizona in Full Dress"

USS Arizona
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"USS Arizona, December 7th, 1941.
Short hours after my crew and I escaped."

By making your gift in any amount you choose, your name and that of your family members will be entered into a database that will be able to be accessed for generations to come, allowing those who choose to meet the Men of the Arizona the ability to find out who helped me in making My Dream Gift To America possible.

In order to view your name or the names of your family, should you decide to make a gift, and to see how this list of my friends is growing, click here. What this will mean is that your children's grandchildren, whenever they visit Pearl Harbor and choose to meet the Men of the Arizona will be able to search in alphabetical order your name as one of my personal friends who helped give America this great gift of its history.

The photograph on your right was taken on the afternoon of December 7th, 1941, just hours after my crew and I escaped in what Military Historians consider to be one of the Arizona's Greatest Escapes. We did this through the extraordinary efforts of one sailor by the name of Joe George of the USS Vestal, who threw us a ship's line upon which we escaped as the Arizona sank into her grave. Along with my crew of six, I escaped certain death by this true American hero although I was burned and wounded.

In order to learn more about this man and the story of our escape I invite you to consider my book, Second To The Last To Leave, which you can read all about and order at

I would like to invite you when you take your next trip to Hawaii and decide to visit Pearl Harbor to consider my recently-released, personally guided tour of my ship and the Arizona Memorial. I have been honored by my friends at Roberts Hawaii who have invited me to share my tour with visitors through Voices Of Pearl Harbor. Please visit the link at the top of this page to learn more.

Should you feel more comfortable in making your gift by check either personally or through your family business or corporation, I welcome you to send it to me by mail at:

Lauren Bruner
Dream Gift to America

350 Ward Street
Honolulu, Hawaii96814

In leaving, I want to thank you and tell you how much I appreciate your consideration in helping me with my dream. Should you wish to write to me at any time, I can be reached at

Calm Seas,

Lauren Bruner


Meet the Men of the USS Arizona

Lauren F. Bruner

Lauren Fay Bruner, Fire Controlman 3/c

Lauren Fay Bruner was born on 4 November 1920 in Shelton, Washington to Leroy Clarence and Lucille Iowa (Smith) Bruner.  Lauren endured many hardships in his life.  When he was only 9 years old, his father died from tuberculosis.  Shortly thereafter, due to the depression, his mother gave him up to go live with another family.  Lauren graduated fromElma High School in Elma, Washington.  He enlisted in the U. S. Navy for six years on 15 November 1938 and completed his Boot Camp training in San Diego California.

He reported to the USS Arizona on 11 February 1939.  On 7 December 1941, Lauren was just 21 years, 1 month and 3 days old.  Due to his burns on December 7th, Lauren spent 7 months in a hospital, where they would soak his hands in brine water and then peel off the dead skin and then soak them in alcohol.  After recovering, Lauren was given orders to the USS Coghlan, DD-606 and participated in eight major engagements.  The USS Coghlan was decommissioned in 1945.  He was transferred to the USS Duluth, CL-87 in Shanghai, China where he served until his discharge in late 1946 at a rank of Chief Fire Controlman.   

His mother remarried and her second husband died on 30 June 1940.  His mother remarried again and after six months of marriage, on 5 February 1943, his mother and step father were walking and both were killed when a young driver was speeding, lost control of the vehicle and hit them.  Lauren's older brother, Clarence, died in 1946 at a young age of 27. 

Lauren married Marcella Stapleton on 25 July 1943 in Los Angeles, California.  After 12 years of marriage, Marcella died on 12 August 1955 from tuberculosis.  Lauren remarried Betty Jean Bruner, a friend of his first wife.  They were married about 20 years when she slipped in their house and fell into a glass mirror and broke her back.  She lived for about two weeks in the hospital before she passed away on 26 August 1983.  His third wife, a widow, was a lady who lived next door.  His current girl friend was a music teacher to the kids next door, and now suffers from Alzheimer's disease and resides in a nursing home.  Lauren continues to live by himself in the Los Angeles, California area.  Lauren plans to be cremated and his ashes buried with his shipmates on the USS Arizona, who weren't as fortunate as himself.  

My Gift


William Edward Mann, Gunner's Mate 3/c
Killed In Action

William, "Billy", eldest of twelve children, was born on 20 April 1920 at Satsop, Grays Harbor County, Washington to Arthur Carl and Charlotte E. I. (Borden) Mann.  Billy was loved by his siblings as he would play the guitar for them and babysit them.  He even carried Virginia to school when she cut her foot bad enough to require stitches.  Billy graduated from Elma High School in 1938 with another USS Arizona sailor, Lauren F. Bruner.  He was living with his family in rural Elma, Washington when he enlisted in the U. S. Navy for six years on 10 January 1939 at Seattle, Washington.  When inducted, he was 5' 8" tall, weighed 150 pounds, and had blue eyes, brown hair and a ruddy complexion.

Billy reported to the USS Arizona on 29 April 1939 at San Pedro, California, but in October 1940 he would return to his home territory at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard at Bremerton, Washington when the ship went into an overhaul.  On 7 December 1941, William Edward Mann was 21 years, 7 months 17 days old.  Billy had the keys to the forward ammunition magazine, almost exactly where the 2000 pound high altitude Japanese bomb dropped between gun turrets #1 and #2 and exploded. The effervescent Billy loved to play his guitar and sing "Red Sails in the Sunset".  Billy was dearly missed by his family and his good friend, Lauren Brunner.  The VFW post in Elma is named in Billy's Honor.

He was survived by his the parents and siblings, Alta, one year younger, Catherine, two years younger, Arthur, Jr., five years younger, Anna, six years younger, Virginia, seven years younger, James, nine years younger, Roy, eleven years younger, Clara, twelve years younger, Fred, thirteen years younger, John, fifteen years younger, and Earl seventeen years younger.

My Gift
William E. Mann


Alvin A. Dvorak

Alvin Albert Dvorak, Boatswain's Mate 2/c
Killed In Action

Alvin was born on 3 April 1918 in Tripp County, South Dakota to Joseph T. and Emma (Mach) Dvorak.  Tragedy struck the Dvorak family early, when Alvin was just over nine months old, his father died in 13 January and his mother died on 17 January 1919 from Spanish flu.  Alvin went to live with his mother's sister Mary and Joseph Kvasnicka in rural Bruno, Minnesota and his older brother, Arthur, and sister, Harriet "Hattie", went to live with his grandparents, John and Barbara Mach, in the same area.  Later, when Alvin was bigger, he too went to live with his grandparents.  Alvin completed his eighth grade education at the Pleasant Hill School in rural Bruno, Minnesota.  Alvin's classmates in the one room school made the front page of the Askov American with five of his classmates when three of the students, including Alvin, had perfect attendance for the year.  Interestingly, five of the students were first cousin and the six of them made up the whole school. Alvin was living in Stillwater, Minnesota when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy for six years on 12 November 1937 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  When inducted, he was 5' 8-½" tall, weighed 162 pounds, and had blue eyes and brown hair. 

Alvin reported to the USS Arizona on9 July 1938 at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii Territory.  On 7 December 1941, Alvin albert Dvorak was 23 years, 8 months, and 4 days old.  Alvin's battle station was the Port A/A (Anti-Aircraft) Director, which was about 40 feet above the main deck.  Alvin and seven other were in this area when the big blast occurred.  The water was too far from the ship for them to jump and the main deck was ablaze.  Alvin was able to get the attention of Joseph George on the repair ship, USS Vestal, AR-4, tied up next to them.  George threw over a heavie, small rope with a weighted monkey fist at the end.  They were able to pull over a big rope and Alvin tied it to the ship.  His shipmate, Lauren Bruner asked him what kind of knot he tied.  Alvin replied, "It dam well isn't a slip knot".  Six men were able to go hand over hand sixty feet above the burning water to the safety of the USS Vestal.  Alvin and Lauren, burned over 74% of his body, had a discussion over who was going to go last.  Alvin was burned over 80% of his body and therefore, he want to be the last and he wanted to make sure his knot held.  They were taken off the USS Vestal to the USS Solace, a hospital ship.  Alvin was transferred to a troop transport ship, USAT Coolidge, for the trip back to the states.  Unfortunately, Alvin died from his burns on Christmas Eve 1941.  Alvin was interred in Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

My Gift


Donald Gay Stratton, Seaman 1/c

Don was born on 14 July 1922 at Inavale, Webster County, Nebraska to 20 year old Jessie (Rutledge) Stratton and 29 years old Robert G. Stratton.  Don was living with his family in Red Cloud, Nebraska when he enlisted in the U. S. Navy for six years on 16 October 1940, at Omaha, Nebraska.  At the time, he weighed 150 pounds, was 5' 10" tall, had brown eyes, medium brown hair and a ruddy complexion.  He reported to the USS Arizona on 9 December 1940.  

Don reported to the USS Arizona on 9 December 1940 at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington.  On December 7th, Don was 19 years, 4 months and 23 days old.  

Don was wearing the uniform of the day, shorts and T-shirt when the attack came.  Don's battle station was the Port A/A Director, which was completely engulfed in the giant fireball and explosion that almost lifted the entire 32,000 ton ship out of the water.  Prior to escaping with six other men on a rope to the USS Vestal, Don pulled the dead skin off his arms, like pulling off a sleeve.  Don was burnt over 70% of his body and was shipped to a convalescent home in Corona, California.  When he left the convalescent home he weighed 92 pounds, down from 170 pounds when the attack occurred.  Don received a medical discharge from the U. S. Navy in 1942, but then re-enlisted in 1944 and serve on the USS Stack, DD-406.

Don was discharge from the U. S. Navy in December of 1945.  Don returned to Red Cloud, Nebraska, where he married Velma Dette Lockhart in 1950.  Don and Velma had two boys, Robert, a Vietnam Veteran, and Randy and two daughters, Gypsy Dawn and Roxanne Jo, who died in infancy.  Don is very proud of his children and grandchildren and great grandchildren.

My Gift
Donald Gay Stratton


Fred Zimmerman

Fred Zimmerman, Coxswain
Killed In Action

Fred  was born on 10 May 1921 to Mary Edith (Burrows) Zimmerman and Frank George Zimmerman in Cleveland, Stutsman County, North Dakota.   Coming from a good Catholic family, Fred had six brother and two sisters.  Fred completed his 10th grade of school in Cleveland.  Due to hard times and a large family, Fred joined the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and was in Company 2712 at Camp Fort Ridgely near Fairfax, MN.  Fred enlisted in the U. S. Navy for six years on 24 January 1940 at Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Fred was 5' 9" tall, weighed 142 pounds, had a ruddy complexion, medium brown hair and blues eyes when he enlisted. 

Fred, "Zeke" completed his Boot Camp training at Great Lakes Naval Training Station at Great Lakes, Illinois and reported to the USS Arizona on 26 March 1940.  On 7 December 1941, Fred was 20 years, 6 months and 27 days old.  Fred was mortally wounded on December 7th from the blast from the bomb that sunk the USS Arizona.  His body was never recovered and he remains on duty on the USS Arizona.  Fred was posthumously awarded the American Defense Service Medal, World War II Victory Medal and the Purple Heart. 

He was survived by his parents and brothers; Jay, Franklin, Oscar, Archie, Harry and Frank Jr. and his sisters; Thelma and Inez, all from Cleveland, North Dakota.

My Gift


Casper Ehlert, Signalman 3/c
Killed In Action

Casper was born on 8 February 1919 in Sheboygan, Sheboygan County, Wisconsin to Jasper and Anna K. (Horst) Ehlert.  His father passed away on 15 January 1923 in Sheboygan.  Casper graduated from Sheboygan High School in Sheboygan in 1937 and joined the Civilian Conservation Corp and was in Company 604 at Camp F-129 in Lowell, Idaho.  His home address was with his mother and step-father, Anna and John Richter at 1635 Indiana Street in Sheboygan, Wisconsin when he enlisted the U. S. Navy on 9 March 1938 at Chicago, Illinois. He was 5' 7" tall, weighed 142 pounds, had blue #8 eyes, medium brown hair and a ruddy complexion when inducted. 

He reported on board the USS Arizona on 9 July 1938.  On 7 December 1941, he was 22 years, 9 months and 29 days old.  He was killed in action on that fateful day and remains on duty aboard the USS Arizona.

He was survived by his mother and step-father, and siblings, Chris, eleven years older, Henry, nine years older, Alexander, seven years older, and Jacob, three years older.  He was also survived by step-brothers, Alexander and Gotlieb Richter, and step-sister Leona Richter.

My Gift
Casper Ehlert


Harold J. Kuhn

Harold Joseph Kuhn, Seaman 1/c

Harold was born to John Alfred and Katherine Kuhn on 9 June 1922 in New York City, Bronx, New York.  He had six siblings at home, Alfred, eleven years older, Grace, nine years older, Catherine seven years older, Louise, three years older, brother, Francis, two years younger, and Edwin six years younger.  His mother passed away in about 1939.  He completed 11 grades of school and then joined the Civilian Conservation Corp and was serving in Company 3276 of CCC in Davenport, Washington.  Harold enlisted in the U. S. Navy for six years on 23 July 1940 at Portland, Oregon.  He was 5' 10½", weighed 133 pounds, and had brown eyes, medium brown hair, and a ruddy complexion. 

He reported on board the USS Arizona on 1 October 1941.  When the Pearl Harbor attack occurred, On 7 December 1941, Harold Joseph Kuhn was 19 years, 5 months and 29 days old.  He was among a group of six men trapped in the Port A/A (Anti-Aircraft) Director.   He had the fewest injuries and was the first to go across the escape rope to the USS Vestal. 

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, he was transferred to the USS Patterson, DD-392 on 9 December 1941.  He also served on board the USS Ralph Talbot, DD-390 and the USS Franklin, CV-13.  Harold married Margaret Mary Turbert   He preceded her in death on August 5, 1999, in North Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

My Gift


Frank Stuart Lomax, Ensign
Killed In Action

Frank Stuart Lomax was born on April 24, 1917 in Broken Bow, Custer County, Nebraska, to James Conrad and Lyle (Young) Lomax.  He had two brothers, James Phillip who was 3 years his senior and Harvard who was five years his junior.  His family owned and run a stock farm, which put them in the middle class.  Frank graduate from the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, and was commissioned an Ensign on June 6, 1940.  When Frank joined the Navy he was 5' 6 ½" tall, weighed 127 pounds, had medium brown hair, blue gray eyes and had a tanned complexion. 

On December 7, 1941, Frank was 24 years, 7 months and 13 days old.  When the crew was called to Battle Stations on December 7th, Frank joined his crew on the Port Anti-Aircraft Director, where he was the officer in charge.  Ammunition was not getting to the Anti-aircraft guns and Frank went to investigate.  The fatal bomb to the USS Arizona hit the ship after Frank left the A/A Director.  He was never seen again and his body was never recovered.  He remains on duty aboard the USS Arizona.   

Frank was survived by his mother and father and siblings.

My Gift
Frank Stuart Lomax


Earl William Riner

Earl William Riner, Gunner's Mate 3rd Class

Earl was born on 5 December 1921 to Thomas Eldin and Estelle (Barrett) Riner at Atoka, Atoka County, Oklahoma.  He became a member of the National Guard in Company 180 at Atoka, Oklahoma.  While still in high school in Lehigh, Oklahoma, he applied to join the Navy on February 26, 1940.  He was sworn into the US Navy in Dallas, Texas on 24 May 1940 committing six years of his life to the Navy.  When he joined the Navy, he was six feet tall weighed 148 pounds, had light brown hair, brown eyes and had a ruddy complexion. 

He reported on board the USS Arizona on 24 August 1940.  On 7 December 1941, Earl was 20 years, and 2 days old.  Earl was one of six men to escape to the USS Vestal via a rope 60 feet above the oil laden and burning water.  Earl was wounded in action on December 7, 1941 while serving on board the USS Arizona as a Seaman 1st Class.  Earl referred to December 7th as his second birthday. He was transferred to US Naval Hospital Mare Island California from the USS Arizona, Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii.  He finally returned to sea on board the USS Lake Champlain, CV-39 in 1944, ironically, the same hull number as the USS Arizona, BB-39.  He was transferred from the USS Lake Champlain to Norfolk, Virginia for discharge to Norman, Oklahoma.

He married Frances Pearl McDonough in 1946.  They never had children.  In retirement, they enjoyed raised beagles, and later English and German shorthair pointers.  Frances preceded Earl in death in 2007 at the age of 85.  Earl passed away on 9 March 2012 at the age of 90 years.

My Gift


George S. Hollowell, Coxswain
Killed In Action

George was the first born to George Arthur and Lorena Harriet "Hattie" (Bowen) Sanford on 9 July 1920 in Phoenix, Maricopa County, Arizona.  George graduated from high school in 1938.  His parents divorced and his mother married Wilburn McMillen.  He enlisted in the U. S. Navy on 21 January 1939 at Phoenix.  When inducted, George was 5' 5" tall, weighed 137 pounds, and had brown eyes, light brown hair and a ruddy complexion.

George reported to the USS Arizona on 11 September 1939 at San Pedro, California.  On 7 December 1941, George Sanford Hollowell was 21 years, 4 months, and 29 days old.  George's battle station was the port A/A (Anti-Aircraft) Director which was engulfed in the blast.  George was thrown against the bulkhead and suffered a head injury which killed him immediately.  His body was identified when it was removed, but the disposition is not clear.  Most likely he was buried in one of the "unknown" gravesites at the Punchbowl cemetery.  Hopefully, his gravesite will be identified by DNA in the next several years.

George was survived by his mother, Mrs. Harriet McMillen, and siblings, Major John, one year younger, and Leo Nathan, five years younger.  His warm smile is remembered by his surviving crewmates.

My Gift
George S. Hollowell


Russell A. Lott

Russell Ardell Lott, Seaman

Russell was born on January 19, 1920 in Kingsley, Iowa to Arthur William and Leola E. (Fryer) Lott.  He was brought home to a seven year old brother, Arnold Samuel, and a three year old sister, Hildred Flossie.  He came from a Navy and battleship family, as his father was a U. S. Marine and served on the battleship USS Maryland in World War I and his brother was in the U. S. Navy, a Yeoman stationed in San Diego.   After completing the 11th grade, Russell enlisted in the U. S. Navy on October 14, 1937at Des Moines, Iowa.  He had younger brother, Delbert, seven years younger.  Russell told the recruiter that he wanted to make the Navy a career and enlisted for a four-year term. When he enlisted was 5' 7 ½" tall, weighed 149 lbs, and had light brown hair and blue eyes.

He reported to the USS Arizona on 4 June 1938 and was known by his friends and crewmembers by his nickname, Ronnie. On December 7, 1941 Russell Ardell Lott was 21 years, 10 months and 19 days old.  He was a survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor and went on to serve on USS Phelps, DD-360.  He was discharged from the U. S. Navy on 5 December 1945 and lived most of his life in Fort Dodge, Iowa.

His parents and older brother preceded him in death.  Russell died on 22 May 2003 in Fort Dodge, Webster County, Iowa at the age of 83and chose to be interned back on the USS Arizona with his shipmates.   Divers interred his ashes to Gun Turret 4 on August 10, 2003.

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