Pearl Harbor to
hold vets remains
Divers will place the remains of a survivor
of the WWII attack next to USS Arizona
FORT DODGE, Iowa >> Russell Lott considered himself lucky to have escaped from USS Arizona when it was bombed at Pearl Harbor.
In death he will return to the sunken ship.
Lott was 83 when he died May 22. His cremated remains will be placed next to the ship by Navy divers in a ceremony later this year.
More than 1,000 of his shipmates are entombed in the vessel, which sank on Dec. 7, 1941.
The Blue Angels fighter squadron will honor Lott with a flyover during the ceremony.
Lott's great niece, Karin Clement, of Fort Dodge, said she thinks he would be moved by the ceremony.
"I think he would be in tears," she said. "I do. I think it would really hit home with him."
A small group of relatives will travel to Hawaii for the ceremony, which has not been scheduled yet, Clement said.
"I just think this is one of the many men that deserves every honor I can ever, ever imagine," she said.
Lott received permission for the burial at sea in 1976.
He was 21 when the Japanese attacked. In a series of newspaper interviews over the years, Lott described the moments before and after the attack.
"It was about 8 a.m., and we were standing on deck waiting for the morning colors when we heard the alarm," Lott said in 1976. "It all happened very fast. When we looked at the planes coming, we had no problem identifying them. We could see the big red Rising Sun markings, and they were coming right down the chute at us."
After the Arizona sank, Lott pulled himself across a lifeline and onto the repair ship USS Vestal. He said he suffered burns on one arm and his chest. He also suffered from a foot wound. His injuries were never officially recorded, so he did not get the Purple Heart.
Decades later, he sought the medal, and it was presented to him in 1993 by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.
Lott served in the Navy throughout World War II. He then returned to Fort Dodge where he worked for Georgia-Pacific, a building supplies manufacturer, for 35 years.
But the events of Dec. 7, 1941, were always on his mind.
"He talked about it quite a bit," said Max Schmeling, 85, of Johnston.
Schmeling was a Marine aboard the cruiser USS St. Louis, which also was attacked in Pearl Harbor.
Schmeling did not know Lott when they were in the military, but the two men met in the early 1960s when Schmeling was a lieutenant with the Iowa State Patrol in Fort Dodge.
The retired trooper said Lott would go to the patrol post to talk to him about Navy life.
"That was on his mind all the time," Schmeling said. "He just lived Pearl Harbor."