While attending high school in a small rural town in southern Alabama, I read and studied the accounts of the Second World War (WW-II); specifically, the attack on Pearl Harbor and the sinking of USS ARIZONA.
Throughout my 33-year career in the United States Navy I studied world events leading up to that dreadful day and of the tragedies that occurred on the morning of December 7, 1941.
During port-calls to Pearl Harbor, I, like many others, was privileged to render “appropriate” honors when we passed the Arizona Memorial.
In 2011, my first “Flag Officer” assignment was as Commander, Navy Region Hawaii. During that assignment, I had the distinct honor of co-presiding over the 70th and 71st Commemorations of the attack on Pearl Harbor, an honor that left indelible memories of the faces of a heroic generation and of the emotional stories that they shared with profound detail and clarity.
However, it would not be until June 6, 2013 that I would have my most moving and memorable experience. It was on that day that I met Mr. Lauren Bruner and that is when my journey into naval history truly began to take on a deeply personal meaning. That is why this opportunity to contribute to such a timeless piece will forever be special to me.
Lauren Bruner is an American Legend and Naval Hero. I am proud to call him my friend. His book “Second to the Last to Leave USS Arizona 12.7.41” is one of the most authentic pieces of American history you will ever have the opportunity to read.
It is written as Lauren speaks, and you will be able to feel both the excitement and pain as you move through its chapters. I had been stationed at Pearl Harbor for three years, which is when I came to meet Lauren. I considered it an honor to have met him. Now I consider him my friend, my shipmate, and a part of my family.
The seven chapters in this book where he shares his experience during the attack on Pearl Harbor are the most detailed that I have ever read. When you consider that what is written was taken from Lauren’s own first-hand account, this makes the story that much more compelling, real, and authentic.
“Second to the Last to Leave USS Arizona” is a gripping read, and one that you would not want to put down. It is that good.
Although I have never recommended a book before, Lauren’s book, I believe, is a must read by anyone committed to a deeper understanding and appreciation of that tragic day and the courageous hours of those who have been called our greatest generation. I whole-heartedly recommend it to anyone who loves America, her Military, or just simply a thrilling story. It is the story of the attack from someone who was there and continues to live and share his experience in a very personal and profound manner.
Thank you, Lauren!
Rear Admiral Fernandez “Frank” Ponds
WHAT READERS HAVE TO SAY
This book is as close as anyone will ever get to being aboard USS Arizona during the attack on Pearl Harbor. It shares in truth and absolute detail our crew's fight to stay alive. I know this to be true as I was there fighting for my own life. Lauren Bruner has done an outstanding job in honoring our crew and our ship in leaving to history this gift of USS Arizona. Speaking for the ship's crew, I want him to know how proud we are of him for telling our story.
USS Arizona Crew Member & Survivor
I am a World War II veteran who is a patriot, and I want to assure all Veterans of all wars that this book is worth reading, and of their time. It is one of the biggest and most powerful stories about war in action that I have ever read. It is really two stories in the same book as it takes the reader on the journey of a young man's fight for his life, allowing the reader to stand alongside. Then he shares what can only be described as a miraculous rescue over a Valley of Death. The fact that this is USS Arizona during the attack on Pearl Harbor only underlines the power of the battle and his first-hand account. It is as real a piece of the horror of war as you will ever read.
Walter L. Beyer
USS Bowfin Submarine
From the book's first pages I found myself caught up in the action and I was hooked. I enjoyed this book very much and would recommend it to anyone. I was particularly intrigued with Alvin Dvorak and Joe George, the two heroes who saved Lauren's life and set into motion Arizona's Greatest Escape.
Dennis A. Ballard
Son of Galen Owen Ballard Sr., F1/c
USS Arizona Crew Member
I think this book is very well written and I like its style. It definitely drew me into the story about a young sailor’s life in old Honolulu, before the war. Lauren Bruner’s life story was fascinating to me, and I kept wanting to learn more about the man. As a woman, it is very easy to fall in love with him.
————I would recommend Lauren Bruner’s book to anyone, including women, who will find Lauren’s life and the women he loved as a young sailor fascinating, especially as he came of age at the very moment World War II began.
Joe Ann George Taylor
Daughter of Joseph George, USS Vestal
The Sailor Who Saved Lauren Bruner’s Life
When you read this book, you will feel like you are on USS Arizona on that infamous day, standing alongside Lauren Bruner. His narrative of the bombing and chilling moments that followed are detailed and gripping. They are remarkable, and it is a terrific book.
Senior Associate Director of Athletics
The University of Arizona
Lauren Bruner shares the most harrowing experience I have ever had as a reader, and I felt inserted into every second of the action. I wept with terror and sorrow as I read; it is amazing that he lived to tell the tale. Not only does this book have enormous historical value but it also serves as a testament to why Lauren Bruner's generation is called The Greatest Generation.