One of the two remaining survivors from the USS Arizona marked his 100th birthday Thursday and received a special message from the White House Secret Service.
United States Navy veteran Ken Potts was working as a crane operator aboard the USS Arizona when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. He escaped with two additional sailors, according to Fox News.
“Some 80 years later, there are only two living survivors: Potts and Lou Conter, the latter turning 99 in September 2020,” the outlet noted.
Stg. Jonathan Stockeland, a Marine Corps veteran, filmed a special message for Potts from outside the White House where they met in 2017 when he gave a “Veterans Tour” in his role as a member of the Secret Service.
“That opportunity to meet you and spend that time with you is one of the great privileges of my career, and it is an even greater privilege to wish you a happy 100th birthday,” Stockeland said:
Today, Ken Potts, one of two USS Arizona living survivors, turns 100-years-young! From all of us at the Secret Service, we wish you the happiest of birthdays! 🎉
— U.S. Secret Service (@SecretService) April 15, 2021
During his tour of the White House, the World War II veteran also met former President Donald Trump who said, “Ken, it is an honor to meet you, an American hero”:
Potts watched the clip of Stockeland while enjoying his birthday party in Provo, Utah, a news release from the Secret Service read.
The veteran joined the Navy when he was 18-years-old and after the attack on Pearl Harbor, he recovered stateside and eventually got a medical discharge but reenlisted one year later and fought during the invasion of the Philippines, according to the Fox article.
In addition to the special birthday message, the Utah National Guard gave him a ride in a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter and community members honored him with a parade.
“On behalf of the Utah National Guard, we want to express our gratitude to Mr. Potts for his exemplary service to this nation,” Maj. Gen. Michael Turley, adjutant general, Utah National Guard, stated.
Happy 100th Birthday to Mr. Ken Potts, one of only two living survivors that were aboard the battleship USS Arizona (BB39) during the attack on Pearl Harbor. The UTNG helped celebrate Mr. Potts’ century mark during a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter flight today.#missionelevated pic.twitter.com/7Y4GaRCoD5
— Utah National Guard (@UTNationalGuard) April 15, 2021
In December, the American Veterans Center shared an interview with Potts in which he recounted what happened during the attack on Pearl Harbor:
The video’s caption said, “After an armor piercing bomb ignited one million pounds of explosives stored inside Arizona, Potts and his fellow survivors abandoned ship, traversing the flame-filled harbor in a transport craft and pulling men to safety.”