WWII veteran who saved sailor from USS Bunker Hill dies at 97

SEATTLE –Three months ago, WGN brought you the story of two World War II veterans who survived a kamikaze attack in 1945 after one saved the other’s life, and shared the touching moment when they met face-to-face for the first time since that fateful day.

The man who saved his fellow sailor, Al Skaret of Seattle, WA, passed away Thursday at the age of 97.

On May 11, 1945, two Japanese suicide bombers struck the American aircraft carrier USS Bunker Hill. Over 600 people were killed. Skaret was working on the ship’s deck at the time, and survived the initial attack. Inside, now 94-year-old Norm Lasman of Chicago was knocked unconscious by the smoke and flames.

Skaret went looking for survivors inside the ship, but said he didn’t expect to find anyone alive. Then he heard a pounding sound. Opening a hatch, he found Lasman, and called on another sailor to help carry him to safety.

Lasman said since he was unconscious he never knew who saved his life. But after reading a history of the attack called Danger’s Hour, he was inspired to try and find if Al Skaret was still alive. The two eventually began exchanging letters, and WGN had the privilege of re-uniting the pair via Skype, helping them meet face-to-face for the first time after being separated by 2,100 miles and 72 years.

Skaret and Lasman became friends and spoke often. Skaret’s son said the best days of his dad’s life were the day he got married, the day his kids were born, and the day the news crews shared his story.

Skaret continued saving lives even after leaving the Navy by becoming a firefighter in Seattle.

He is survived by a daughter and two sons, and five grandchildren, KCPQ reports.