Only minutes after a Japanese submarine attacked the heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis in July 1945, about 900 men were floating in the water – on rafts, in lifejackets, some clinging to others with lifejackets. They watched the ship slide into the ocean with about 300 men trapped inside. Of the 1,197 men aboard, only 317 survived; one of the nation’s worst naval disasters.
The Indianapolis was a fast ship chosen to deliver parts for the atomic bomb to be dropped on Hiroshima, though no one aboard the ship knew what the secret cargo was. Survivors credit themselves with helping end World War II. Eleven days after they delivered bomb parts to Tinian, the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.
Sixty years later, about 60 of the roughly 90 remaining survivors from the USS Indianapolis recently had a reunion in the ship’s namesake city. Speakers at their four-day event included Navy Secretary Gordon England, Lt. Col. Oliver North, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and US Representative Julia Carson. Reunions, once held every five years, now take place every two because there are fewer survivors.
From a story by Kelly Cuculiansky in the Courier-Journal, Indianapolis, Indiana.