HONOLULU — Army personnel in Hawaii used World War II diving equipment for an underwater internment of the ashes of a USS Arizona crew member.
Two divers donned vintage equipment to drop below the surface of Pearl Harbor and inter the ashes of former crew member Lauren Bruner inside the Arizona’s submerged wreckage, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Thursday.
The ceremony took place Saturday on the 78th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor during WWII.
Bruner died Sept. 10 at age 98. He escaped death during the attack on Dec. 7, 1941, by climbing along a rope 70 feet (23 yards) above the harbor.
Bruner is the 44th survivor since 1982 to be interred inside the ship, where 900 men remain entombed.
The divers with the 7th Engineer Dive Detachment wore lead boots and drysuits weighing about 200 pounds (91 kilograms) and the only vintage Mark 5 hardhats still certified for use.
The Mark 5 dive rig was used by the Navy for deep sea and salvage diving from 1916 through the early 1980s, the U.S. Naval Undersea Museum said.
The divers walked across the deck of the sunken battleship and descended 22 feet (7 yards) into a gun turret to place Bruner’s ashes in one of the deepest spots in the wreck.
“It was historical. I was left speechless, honestly,” said Spc. Julio Melendez of the Army dive detachment at Hickam Airfield, who placed Bruner’s urn in the Arizona.
“It was a very in-the- moment experience,” the 21-year-old diver said. “Just kind of taking it all in and realizing what we were doing and the history that’s being made and remembering Lauren Bruner and everything that he had done.”