Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

USS Indianapolis Survivors Gather Again ; Final Big Reunion for 38 of Ship's 317 Original Survivors Remain

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

USS Indianapolis Survivors Gather Again ; Final Big Reunion for 38 of Ship's 317 Original Survivors Remain

Article excerpt

INDIANAPOLIS - More than a dozen men who survived the worst sea disaster in U.S. naval history - the World War II sinking of the USS Indianapolis - have gathered in the cruiser's namesake city for the final large-scale reunion of the famed ship's dwindling number of survivors. Thirty-eight of the 317 men who survived the ship's July 1945 sinking and five days in the Pacific's shark-infested waters are still alive, but they're now in their late 80s and early 90s and many use wheelchairs.

Harold Bray, an 86-year-old from Benicia, Calif., said he and the 14 other survivors attending this year's reunion decided Friday any future gatherings will be smaller and less frequent because so many of the survivors are in poor health.

"We decided to stay together until the last guy's standing, but the goal is to continue at a smaller scale," said Bray, chairman of the USS Indianapolis Survivors Organization. "Some of the guys are in wheelchairs now and travel is pretty tough for them."

Bray said the survivors nonetheless will keep telling the story of the ship's sinking, their survival and the role they played in helping bring the war to a close.

The USS Indianapolis was halfway between Guam and the Philippines in shark-filled waters when a Japanese submarine sank it with torpedoes on July 30, 1945, in the war's closing weeks.

Just days earlier, the Indianapolis had visited the island of Tinian in a secret mission to deliver the uranium-235 and other components for the atomic bomb later dropped on Hiroshima by the Enola Gay, which took off from the remote island.

The Indianapolis' mission was so secret she sailed alone, unescorted by ships better equipped to detect and fight Japanese submarines.

An estimated 900 of the ship's servicemen survived the vessel's nighttime sinking, but before rescuers arrived five days later, drowning, delirium, dehydration and shark attacks had claimed all but 317 of the men.

The Indianapolis' death toll - 880 members out of a crew of 1,197 died - is the U.S. Navy's worst single at-sea loss of life. But reports of the tragedy were buried by the news of the Japanese surrender, and interest in the ship's story was not revived until the 1975 movie "Jaws" featured a character who told of the sinking and the survivors' days of agony. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.