Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The U.S.S. Indianapolis

The U.S.S. Indianapolis left its mark in World War II history twice. It was the United States’ destroyer that delivered the first atomic bomb to the island of Tinian on July 26, 1945. With it being so close to the end of the war one would think that the Indianapolis would only become a trivia question for later generations in regards to nuclear history but just a few days later disaster struck. The U.S.S. Indianapolis was torpedoed by a Japanese sub on July 30, 1945 in Philippine waters on its way to Leyte. The US destroyer sank quickly and 300 of its 1,196 crew went down with the ship. The remaining members of the crew endured four days in the water without food, water and most without lifeboats. To make matters worse many men lost their life to shark attacks throughout the ordeal.

The Indianapolis slipped through the cracks and was not reported missing, so it was only by chance that a plane accidentally spotted the survivors. When all was said and done only 316 men were left. The fallout came shortly after the rescue and Captain Charles Butler McVay, III was found guilty of not zigzag in a court marshal and served out the remaining of his service in obscurity. He eventually took his own life in 1968. The surviving crew members fought hard to clear the captain’s name and on October 12, 2000 they were able to get Congress to pass an amendment to exonerate him. What it failed to do was wipe the court marshal from his record.

There is a beautiful memorial that was erected for the crew in 1995 and was designated a National Memorial by Congress. The money was paid for by The U.S.S. Indianapolis (CA-35) Survivors Memorial Organization, Inc a not-for-profit Company based in Indianapolis. You can find the memorial at the North end of the Canal Walk off of Senate Ave & Walnut St. in downtown Indianapolis. The pictures in the blog are of the memorial.

If you would like to read a little more about the U.S.S. Indianapolis you can visit their web site at http://www.ussindianapolis.org/. A good book that I read was called In Harm’s Way: The Sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors, by Doug Stanton.

1 comment:

The Jensen Family said...

Thank you for this! My grandfather was Robert P. Shaffer survivor of the USS Indy. I have had fun sharing his story with my son. We were at the memorial with my grandfather when it was dedicated and returned to share it with my children a couple of years ago. It's nice to see it again here on your blog!