Remembering a hero: West Seattle WWII veteran who saved fellow sailor dies

SEATTLE -- More than 70 years ago, two American sailors shared a moment in hell.

But from that moment, an unlikely friendship arose. An unlikely friendship and the making of a hero.

That hero passed away Thursday, Q13 News has learned. His name was Al Skaret. He was 97 years old.

A West Seattle resident, Skaret was a sailor during WWII. He worked on the deck of the Essex-class aircraft carrier USS Bunker Hill, and was on the ship when it was struck by two kamikaze pilots. The attack killed more than 600 people.

Skaret saved at least one man from drowning as the ship went down.

His story of heroism went largely unheard until the man he saved, Norm Lasman, contacted Skaret from Chicago. With the help of WGN, Q13 News and others, Lasman and Skaret saw each other for the first time in 70 years earlier this summer.

They became friends. And though they were never able to meet face-to-face, they talked 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 learned about his heroism as a young man.

Skaret became a Seattle firefighter following his time in the Navy. He is survived by a daughter and two sons, and six grandchilren.

Here is his story, called "The Brothers of Bunker Hill."