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Few people know the entire story of the USS Indianapolis, CA-35. For those of you who have seen the movie Jaws, there’s a chilling scene where Quint recalls the USS Indianapolis, “Japanese submarine slammed two torpedoes into our side, Chief. We was comin' back from the island of Tinian to Leyte... just delivered the bomb. The Hiroshima bomb. Eleven hundred men went into the water. Vessel went down in 12 minutes. Didn't see the first shark for about a half an hour. Tiger. 13-footer.”
He goes on to describe the horrific details of the USS Indianapolis. The USS Indianapolis delivered the world’s first atomic bomb to the island of Tinian on July 26, 1945 and then was ordered to run escorted from Guam to prepare for the invasion of Japan.
On July 30th, at 14 minutes past midnight, the ship was attacked and went down within minutes with the 1,196 crewmembers aboard. 900 made it into the water, most with life jackets. Shark attacks started after 5 days and continued for another 5 days… only 317 survived.
It remains the greatest sea disaster in US Naval history.
The Captain of the USS Indianapolis was targeted by the US Navy at the time and of the 350 ships that were sunk in World War II, only Captain McVay was court-martialed. There were two offenses – not issuing timely orders to abandon ship and not zigzagging the ship to thwart an attack.
Both charges lacked any substance and in October of 2000, legislation was passed to exonerate Captain McVay of all charges. It’s an important story – when the USS Cole was attacked in 2001, the US Navy did not pursue charges against her Captain – largely in part to the embarassment of the wrongful conviction of Captain McVay.
Here in Indianapolis, you can visit the USS Indianapolis Memorial at the North end of the Canal Walk, a beautiful section of downtown Indianapolis.
The USS INDIANAPOLIS (CA-35) National Memorial was designed, erected and paid for by The USS INDIANAPOLIS (CA-35) Survivors Memorial Organization, Inc., a not-for-profit (501-c-19) established in Indianapolis, IN., in 1990 for that purpose. No government funds per se were used. The Organization raised slightly more than eight hundred thousand dollars for the purpose. The Memorial was designated a National Memorial by an act of Congress in 1995, one of only 26 such memorials. The USS INDIANAPOLIS National Memorial was dedicated on August 2, 1995.
Support the survivors and read the first-hand reports of the USS Indianapolis CA-35 with a purchase of their book:
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