Donald Stratton, one of the last USS Arizona survivors from Pearl Harbor who fought for the recognition of one of his heroic shipmates, died Saturday night in his sleep, his granddaughter told Fox News.

Stratton died of natural causes in Colorado Springs, Colo., his family said. He was 97.

The Navy veteran said it wasn’t until 2001, during a reunion of Pearl Harbor survivors, that he discovered the identity of the U.S. service member who saved his life and the lives of at least five other sailors: Chief Petty Officer Joe George, who died in 1996.

Stratton and Lauren Bruner, another Arizona survivor, lobbied hard for George to be recognized. Both traveled to Washington, D.C., in 2017 to meet President Trump in the White House and then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis at the Pentagon.

Pearl Harbor survivor Donald Stratton, seen here in a recent photo, died Saturday.

Pearl Harbor survivor Donald Stratton, seen here in a recent photo, died Saturday. (Nikki Stratton)

Stratton said he and others trapped aboard the sinking Arizona had struggled mightily to escape the carnage, which killed 1,177 of his shipmates, after Japanese planes struck the Arizona several times on Dec. 7, 1941. “We got hit with the big bomb and that exploded like a million pounds of ammunition. The fireball went about 60, 70 feet in the air.”

 
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