Tuesday, July 30, 2013
JULY 30 = "USS Indianapolis" Sinks in Shark-Filled Waters
This is the most spellbinding moment in a movie that was full of them. Robert Shaw's character of "Quint" tells the characters of "Hooper", played by Richard Dreyfus, and "Chief Brody", played by Roy Scheider about his World War II experience aboard the U.S.S. Indianapolis (a "YouTube" video of that moment in the film can be accessed by clicking on the highlighted name "Robert Shaw's" above). This portion of the dialogue was based on survivors accounts so it is accurate save in one detail: the date. It was actually on today's date of July 30 in 1945 that the U.S.S. Indianapolis was sunk by a torpedo from a Japanese submarine.
The U.S.S. Indianapolis is Sunk. Period.
The Sun, the Sharks, Exposure All Converge Upon the Crew...
The day wore on and the sharks were around, hundreds of them. You’d hear guys scream, especially late in the afternoon. Seemed like the sharks were the worst late in the afternoon than they were during the day. Then they fed at night too. Everything would be quiet and then you’d hear somebody scream and you knew a shark had got him.
This was the memory of Woodie E. James, a Coxswain aboard Indianapolis, and one of the lucky few who survived four hideous days of floating in the Pacific Ocean at the mercy of the unrelenting sun. This caused sun burns and eventually the dehydration from lack of fresh water casued dementia. And the sharks which frequent these warm waters swarmed about and mercilessly tore at the men. Most of the men had life-preservers, but these had become water-logged by the fourth day. And some of the men had managed to find rafts to float in (above), but some did not. And many of these men fell prey to these sharks. Of a crew of 1,196, about 900 men survived the sinking of the ship, which went down in twelve minutes. But because of the sun, the sharks, and exposure, only 321 of those in the water survived to be rescued on August 2, when a navy PBY on a routine patrol happened to see the survivors.
Then the U.S. Navy Converges Upon Captain McVay
"Nip Sub Sinks Cruiser Indianapolis Carrying Atom Bomb Load; 883 Killed
Announcing this today, the Navy said the famous vessel was lost shortly after completion of her last mission, sailing from San Francisco, Cal. on July 16 on a high-speed run to Guam to deliver essential atomic bomb material. She was lost after delivering her cargo safely.
The Navy gave no details of her final, fatal action. "
On an inner page:
" 'By a turn of fate Indianapolis and Indinana suffered heavily tonight as we join the nation in observance of the victorious ending of the war with Japan.' Gov. Ralph F. Gates said last night. 'We are tremendously saddened by the belated news of the loss of the cruiser Indianapolis, flag ship of the hardest hitting fleet the world has ever known. , and her gallant crew. It is a loss which comes close to us here in Indianapolis and throughout Indiana for we were proud of the wonderful ship and her crew'."
The Indianapolis Star, August 15, 1945, Vol.43, No. 71