An extraordinary life: Book out on World War II and USS Arizona survivor Lou Conter |

An extraordinary life: Book out on World War II and USS Arizona survivor Lou Conter

“The Lou Conter Story,” by Louis A.Conter, Annette C. Hull, and Warren R. Hull, details the life of retired Lt. Cmdr. Louis A. Conter’s life as an American sailor, pilot, and unsung hero. Contents include surviving the sinking of the USS Arizona and the attack on Pearl Harbor, to some of his lesser known acts of heroism including the rescuing of Australian Coastwatchers, being shot down twice, and his involvement in survival training. “The Lou Conter Story” is available through
Elias Funez

“The Lou Conter Story,” a 220-page book by Annette C. Hull, Warren R. Hull, and Louis A. Conter, highlights the extraordinary life of retired Lt. Cmdr. and Grass Valley resident Lou Conter and his time as an American serviceman and unsung hero.

Many people are aware that Conter, now 99, survived the bombing of the USS Arizona and the attack on Pearl Harbor, but many might not know that after Pearl Harbor he became a pilot and was shot down twice over enemy territory.

During one of those instances, an enemy round pierced Conter’s aircraft and ignited the parachute flares, quickly engulfing the plane in flames before being forced to make a crash landing in the ocean off the coast of New Guinea.

An excerpt from the book reads:

“’We were all treading water in a pretty tight circle when Gordon Kennington, a lieutenant commander and our pilot, told us, ’Say your prayers, men; it’s going to be dark soon. We’ve got sharks all around us, we’re about seven miles offshore, and I don’t think any of us can swim that far in these fifteen-foot swells.’

“I replied, ’Baloney. Knock it off. Just stay together, hold hands, and kick slowly. Yes, there are sharks around, but if a shark comes too close, hit it in the nose with your fist as hard as you can.’

USS Arizona and World War II survivor, retired Lt. Cmdr. Louis A. Conter, holds a copy of his book.
Elias Funez

“We had three officers aboard the plane and in the water with us, so I should not have said anything since I was just a first class petty officer, but no one else said a word at a time when someone needed to speak up.

“The sharks did come, but as I said, as soon as we hit one of them in the nose, it would turn the other way and swim away really fast. We were fortunate with sharks; there were other pilots and ship crew members who did not fare as well as we did in encounters with them.”

“It was just living your life and knowing how to survive,” Conter said from his home last week in Grass Valley’s Eskaton Village.

“My book has a lot of survival in there, and when I look at it I say, I can’t think of me being with all the guys I’ve been with, the Green Berets and Special Forces, and not getting killed or injured or something, but I did my job, did it as well as I could,” Conter said.

Lou Conter is shown some of his fan mail, and a drawing of the USS Arizona made by a young fan, last week at Conter’s home in Grass Valley, with the assistance of friend Mary Johansen.
Elias Funez

“The Lou Conter Story” has been a collaboration with authors Annette C. Hull and Warren R. Hull that has taken the greater part of the past few years to complete and is full of information about Conter’s life in the service, which lasted until 1967, as well the Pearl Harbor remembrance ceremonies, and why he says it’s important to remember.

“I wanted to write this book because the history books in our schools do not have enough information about the raid on Pearl Harbor and the events that led up to the attack. Our young people need to know the truth about this subject. We can never let our youth forget the events that took place on December 7, 1941; it cannot become an event forgotten with the passage of time,’” Conter writes in one of the final paragraphs of his book, “The Lou Conter Story,” available through

Conter, now 99 years old, holds a copy of his book written with the help of Annette and Warren Hull, and details his life as an unsung American hero.
Photo: Elias Funez

To contact Multimedia Reporter Elias Funez email, or call 530-477-4230.

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