Creating success stories
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Creating success stories
one business at a time.


Lauren F. Bruner was born on November 4, 1920 in Shelton, Washington. Lauren spent much of his childhood in the foster care system after losing his father at the young age of 6. At the formative age of 14, Lauren learned that his father was a Navy deserter prior to marrying Lauren's mother. As his 18th birthday approached, he took it upon himself to satisfy his father's abandoned commitment and made the life changing decision to join the Navy.

At 21, Lauren and his high school best friend, Billy, found themselves in the middle of America's greatest Naval loss, the USS Arizona. Lauren's battle station on the ship was high in its main mast, while Billy's was in the belly of the ship near the black powder ammunition locker.

On December 7, 1941, the "Lucky Bomb" that sent USS Arizona to its grave dropped out of the sky, hitting the ship directly in front of Lauren's battle station. Being an armor-piercing bomb, it didn't explode immediately, but rather continued down through the ship's five decks, almost exploding in Billy's lap, ultimately breaking the USS Arizona in two. After 73% of his body scorched, and what is known as USS Arizona's "Greatest Escape", Lauren spent 7 months in Navy hospitals. Soon after, he got back into the fight to avenge the deaths of his Billy and his crew as the Gun Captain of the new destroyer the USS Coghlan. It was then, after returning from the Battle of Komandorski in 1942, Lauren married Marcela Stapleton in Los Angeles.

Two weeks after the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Lauren and his crew were ordered to Nagasaki Harbor on August 23, 1945. It was here, after witnessing the destruction, Lauren felt the need to forgive the people of Japan.

When Lauren returned home to care for his ailing Marcella, he felt "crazy". It was only through Marcella's help and understanding that he overcame his PTSD and gained the strength to carry on with his life. Sadly, Marcella died in 1953, only being married for 12 years. Heartbroken, Lauren refused to talk about World War II or the USS Arizona.

It wasn't until Lauren met Ed McGrath in 2011 that he was willing to talk about his tragic experience. At that time, Lauren was living alone and had no children. For many reasons, Lauren and Ed instantly formed a special bond that eventually led to Lauren wanting to open up about his life. As Ed would visit with Lauren every Thursday morning, Lauren shared stories of his life, including the attack on Pearl Harbor.

This friendship led to the creation of the Lauren F Bruner Foundation and his book in 2016. "Second to the Last to Leave" has become the #1 Best Seller at the USS Arizona Memorial Bookstore at Pearl Harbor and is considered the most authentic and thrilling description of the attack on Pearl Harbor ever shared.

Lauren's health began in deteriorate and he died peacefully in his home on September 10, 2019, just days shy of his 98th birthday. In his last communication with the Board of Directors of his foundation, he shared his last wish and mandate - that portraits drawn of each of his fellow crew members. He referred to his wish as his "Dream Gift to America."

On 7 December 2019, Ed accompanied his friend one final time back to Hawaii and was formally returned to his ship and crew. His ashes were interred back into the ship's Gun Turret #4, which is where he started his Navy career and where he can be found today and forever.

Lauren Bruner is a "True American Hero," both in life and death, as his dreams to honor his ship and crew continue to live for future generations.

"Although both Japanese and Americans experienced the horrors of World War II, as did my fellow Veterans, I have always believed that World Peace is attainable and is the ultimate goal for all peoples. I also believe that if left up to ordinary people like those in Japan and America, that war as we know would never have taken place."
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