On December 7, 1941, the Arizona was moored in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, alongside seven other American battleships. At 7:55 a.m., the Arizona was the first battleship targeted in a massive surprise attack by the Empire of Japan; 353 imperial war planes swarmed Battleship Row and neighboring Hickam Airfield in a meticulously planned assault launched to cripple America's Pacific Fleet.
Amid the terrifying chaos of explosions and incessant machine gun fire, nineteen-year-old Seaman First Class Donald Stratton raced to his battle station on the Arizona. Barely fifteen minutes into the attack, a 1,760-pound armor-piercing bomb hit the ship, setting off a million pounds of munitions and 180,000 gallons of aviation fuel aboard. The explosion lifted the massive battleship out of the water causing the forward deck to buckle, and engulfed it in an enormous fifty-foot fireball that tore through the anti-aircraft platform where Don and his team were stationed.
Burned over more than 65 percent of his body, Don and his gunnery team miraculously escaped the inferno; using their charred hands, they climbed across a seventy-foot-long rope stretched forty-five feet above flaming, oil-slicked water to reach the Vestal moored nearby. While Don made it out alive, 1,177 of his crewmates perished-more than half the American casualty total of the attack.
But this remarkable story does not end here. After more than a year of grueling treatment, including learning to walk again, Don recovered and doggedly battled Navy bureaucracy to reenlist. Determined to take the fight to the enemy, he participated in some of the bloodiest battles of the Pacific, including the invasion of New Guinea and Okinawa.
Told in remarkable, never-before-revealed first-person detail, this powerful and uplifting memoir of war and survival resonates with the spirit, heart, and undaunted courage of such beloved bestsellers as Unbroken and The Boys in the Boat.