Three of the five living survivors of the USS Arizona were feted from the Pentagon to the Oval Office Friday.
The men survived the sinking of the ship after it was bombed by the Japanese during the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
President Donald Trump lauded Lauren Bruner, a fire controlman, Donald Stratton, a seaman first class, and Ken Potts, a coxswain, during a Friday afternoon ceremony at the White House.
Trump said it was their first visit to D.C.
“I hope this trip does honor to you and your truly heroic service,” he said. “We want to thank you, thank you all. That is so good. Thank you very much.”
Also on hand was Joe Ann Taylor, daughter of the late Joe George, a sailor on the USS Vestal who saved Bruner and Stratton by throwing a line on to the ship.
“His name will go down in history,” Trump said. “Very brave, very strong.”
Bruner and Stratton “clung to that rope, and hand over hand, they crossed through the 70 feet of flames, burning endlessly,” Trump said.
“Despite suffering terrible burns still with them today, they both served in the Navy for years after, fighting in some of the greatest Pacific engagements in World War II,” Trump said.
Trump also recounted Potts’s selflessness more than 75 years ago.
“Rather than flee from the fire and chaos, he drove his small boat into the blazing hot water,” Trump said. “He climbed aboard the sinking Arizona and carried off passengers one by one.”
Earlier in the day, the vets were given a hero’s welcome at the Pentagon, where they were greeted with cheers and applause from troops and Pentagon staff.
The Arizona is now a memorial and resting place to the 1,177 sailors and Marines who lost their lives when the ship sunk.
Trump also managed to get in a plug for increased military spending as Congress works out the latest defense bill.
“Our military’s very proud again, aren’t they?” he asked the aged veterans. “They’re seeing lots of ships, right, and lots of planes. Lots of great equipment.”