On July 30, 1945, just days before the end of WWII, the USS Indianapolis was sailing from Guam to Leyte when she was struck by two torpedoes fired by a Japanese submarine. The ship sank in roughly 12 minutes. Survivors were thrown into the shark-infested Philippine Sea where many perished before rescuers arrived four days later. Of the 1,196 sailors aboard the ship, nearly 900 made it into the water but only 316 survived until rescue. The disaster resulted in the largest loss of life at sea in US Navy history.
The Indianapolis left San Francisco on July 16th headed for Tinian in the Mariana Islands. She was loaded with secret cargo that included key components to make the atomic bomb that would later be dropped on Japan. The ship was forced to sail without an escort and through waters where Japanese subs were likely. The Indianapolis made it to Tinian in record time, dropped off her cargo, headed for Guam and Leyte Gulf, once again without an escort.
The night of July 30th was hot, and 19-year-old Seaman 1st Class Clarence Hershberger decided to sleep on deck to escape the heat below. Shortly after midnight, two torpedoes slammed into the Indianapolis. The ship began to sink, and commander, Charles B. McVay, III, gave the order to abandon ship. About half the men had life jackets and 12 of the ship’s 35 life rafts (as well as some floater nets) were deployed. Hershberger found himself floating in the sea. He says men buddied up in pairs or gathered in groups for moral support. The first morning Hershberger saw dorsal fins, but the sharks kept their distance. The second day, he saw a large shark swim right below him. The men would scream, kick, and holler in an attempt to drive the sharks away. “We knew when a shark was attacking because he [a sailor] would let out a bloodcurdling scream, like nothing you’ve ever heard before,” Hershberger said. “Every time you’d hear that bloodcurdling scream you would think, ‘Uh-oh, the sharks hit another one.’”
Four days later, on August 2nd, Lt. Wilbur C. Gwinn was flying patrol over the Philippine Sea when he spotted an oil slick. He changed course to investigate and saw a group of men floating in the sea. A seaplane piloted by Lt. Commander Robert Adrian Marks was dispatched and disregarding standing orders, landed in the sea, and rendered assistance while they waited for rescue ships to arrive.
The last man was pulled out of the water on August 3rd. Captain Charles B. McVay, III, was court-martialed for failure to give timely orders to evacuate the ship, and for failing to zig-zag, a common practice to avoid enemy torpedoes. He was acquitted of the first charge and found guilty of negligence on the second. McVay had the support of his men who organized and spent years trying to clear his name. McVay was the only captain in the history of the US Navy to be court-martialed for the loss of his ship in combat. McVay passed away in 1968, and in 2000, President Bill Clinton signed a resolution passed by Congress exonerating Captain McVay for the loss of the USS Indianapolis. On August 19, 2017, a civilian research expedition led by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen discovered the wreckage of Indianapolis 18,000 feet below the surface of the Pacific Ocean. To learn more about the USS Indianapolis, search Fold3 today.
Living in Indianapolis, I’ve had the distinct honor and privilege of attending several of the reunions held here by the survivors and their families. I’ve been blessed to get the autographs of about 22 of the men.
Bless them all. And thank you from the bottom of my heart . Bless your family for every.
Thank you for recognizing this event and everything the blessed captain and the crew did for our nation. By the way, Vincent and Vladic’s book INDIANAPOLIS is a must read.
I would like to honor John Wesley Cobb who lost this life in this horrible attack. May he rest in peace.
I’m Eddie Cobb from Missouri
I wanted to see if he was likely related to us
Arlene, there is no John Wesley Cobb carried on the Indianapolis muster roll reproduced in Vincent and Vladic’s book, only a William Lester Cobb.
The sinking of the Indianapolis was also immortalized in Robert Shaw’s speech in the movie “Jaws.”
That was my introduction to the story of The Indianapolis. I was a history teacher and hadn’t learned about it. There’s so much we don’t know because it hasn’t been publicized.
True. But as I recall, there were several factual errors in Shaw’s soliloquy, including the date of the event and the number of lives lost. There may have been others, but those are two I remember at the moment.
Boooks on this topic are excellent.
Mr. J.C. Nichols, who lives in my community, was a survivor of the sinking of the USS INDIANAPOLIS. The most tragic of J.C.’s memories was that a Friend was on the same piece of floating material, but kept swimming away; J.C. swam after him several times, but the Friend suddenly just disappeared. God save them both!
James Clarence Nichols was a Seaman 2nd Class on the Indy. G-d bless him and the entire crew, including their skipper.
Never forget! May all the brave sailors sail together forevermore in peace and safety in heaven.
William “Bill” Smith’s brother Fred was a survivor. Bill and I were teaching colleagues for years.
I saw the documentary on the ship. Very interesting. So I wanted to make a quarter board of the “USS INDIANAPOLIS “. it is approximately 7 and 1 half ft long on a 5 quarter pine board with 5 in by 1 in letters. Hand carved with a chisel. Painted black with off yellow lettering. Asking 200.00. Will send a picture if interested.
Frederick Calvin Smith was a Fireman 2nd Class on the Indy. G-d bless him and the ship’s entire crew, including their skipper.
Bless the men and the families of the USS Indianapolis. Heroes all
I have pictures of my Grandpa taken during WWI and of my dad in WWIi. Do you know of anyplace I could donate them?
Dad was 1st Armored Divison and Grandpa was 308th Field Signal Battalion from Illinois.
Contact the new U S Army Museum at Fort Belvoir. Also Library of Congress and U S Archives. If there is an archives of the unit’s histories, they might be interested as well. See if there is a Facebook Group for the unit, I’ve gotten much info about my Dad’s unit from that.
World War 2 Museum in New Orleans….excellent place to visit.
My Dad was in the Navy and there is a museum in Washington DC that collects their photos, memories, memorabilia, etc. I would think other branches of military have the same. Just make sure to write their full names on back of photo along with the info about their military service. And thanks to family for their service.
My father uncle, many cousins were in the war. They were first generation Americans whose families came from many eastern European countries. I have joined the WW2 MUSEUM to help build it. Look for it online and join.
“Fatal Voyage – The Sinking Of The USS Indianapolis” by Dan Kurtzman is also an excellent read. A Military.com article by Bethanne Kelly Patrick about Rear Adm. Charles McVay III entitled “Unfairly Convicted In 1945 Loss Of Indianapolis, Captain’s Name Finally Is Cleared” and “Calendar No. 123, S. J. RES. 26 of the 106th Congress” are also important follow-up reads.
The rescued sailors were transferred to the hospital ship USS Tranquility (AH-14), on which my father served. The ship treated them and transported them to a hospital in Guam.
If you want a good read, try to get your hands on “Indianapolis” by Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic. It is the “True Story of the Worst Sea Disaster in U. S. Naval History and the Fifty Year Fight to Exonerate an Innocent Man.” It was published by Simon and Schuster around 2018. It is a much detailed, including pictures, and how the crew of the Indianapolis worked to right a terrible wrong for their Captain.
I have also read the book “Indianapolis” and several other articles on the incident. I am ashamed that Captain McVay was treated so horribly by the Navy. What those men went through should never happen to anyone. Bless his memory and those of his crewmen.
Why is R.E. Lee on your masthead instead of U.S Grant?
R.E. Lee is as much a part of US history as any other military general. Erasing the people and history of our country is short sighted and childish. Telling the whole story as we know it to be without prejudice is what historians should do. Not bending to the political pressure’s of the moment.
I hope this is a joke, but if not, “Here we go again!”. History is history, even if they topple it, burn it or blow it up.
Why shouldn’t it be? Lee was a great leader.
Richard, let me begin to count the ways why Lee should not be so commemorated or honored:
1. He was a traitor to the Union. Lee — who well understood the import of his actions during the Civil War — fully expected to be hung for treason at the time of his surrender to Grant, and was surprised when he wasn’t.
2. Lee was trained at the expense and indulgence of the federal government at West Point, but then despicably used that training and indulgence against those who provided it.
3. Lee defied the oath he took when he received his federal commission.
4. Lee fought to defend the abhorrent institution of slavery, when much of the “developed” world had long abandoned it.
5. Lee was directly responsible for the deaths of untold thousands of Americans for the purpose of keeping millions more in abject slavery.
6. According to recent scholarship, long ignored by prior hagiographers, Lee was considered “the worst man I ever see” by his human chattel. And he personally presided over the cruel whipping and torture of his slaves who attempted to escape, having brine poured over their shredded skin to increase the pain. See, for example, “The Myth of Kindly General Lee,” The Atlantic, June 2017.
7. Lee himself never attempted to defend, honor or commemorate his abhorrent actions. Indeed, in the years following the war he discouraged others from doing so.
8. Nevertheless, Lee’s image — in stone and on paper — was historically used in the South during the time of Jim Crow and lynchings as a tacit, threatening reminder to African Americans of their “proper place” in society. Many would perhaps still use it that way. It is not for you, Richard, to tell all our black fellow citizens and neighbors that they should not now take offense or be threatened because YOU may not intend it that way — especially when my black neighbors remain under constant stress and threat, both explicit and implicit.
Clarification to No. 7, above: The entire paragraph refers to the postbellum period of 5 years prior to Lee’s death.
Oh, and one more reason, Richard. Unlike Generals Washington, Pershing and Eisenhower, Robert E. Lee was a LOSER!
Agree with the question from T.H.,
“Why is R.E. Lee on your masthead instead of U.S Grant?”
Is there a section in fold3 for those who for instance served on the British side in the Revolutionary War? (When the members of the citizenry were all British)
Agree with TH and PB. Removing Lee on the masthead is not “erasing history.” ALL of the research materials, including photos and voluminous biographies, are still readily available. But there is no need to commemorate a traitorous general who was directly responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans, all to defend the South’s right to hold people in bondage. Having Lee on the masthead instead of Grant is little different than replacing Eisenhower’s picture with Hitler’s.
Further to my prior comment: Or why not replace Washington’s picture with Benedict Arnold’s?
Charles McVay was my stepfather. He committed suicide in 1968. The injustice that the Navy inflicted on him eventually was more than he could bear. Because of the Court Marshall many families of the sailors who did not survive blamed him, and he received hate mail every year which tore at his heart. His exoneration unfortunately came 32 years too late. He was a true hero, and it is so good that the real story of sinking of The Indianapolis has been finally written. I remember him every July 30th.
Win I live in Slidell La where the captain lived and his ashes were scattered. I have written a story about him published in Magazine. I would like to talk to you if you agree. Email [email protected]. 985 707 8727.
Win, thank you for taking the time to share your memories. We honor your stepfather and are grateful for his leadership.
I am so sorry for the pain and suffering your stepfather and your family suffered due to the shortsightedness of the navy brass. That was bad form. A good question to ask is, why was the USS Indianapolis forced to sail without any protection? Why doesn’t the brass take part of the responsibility, as they should? I guess it’s easier for the brass to blame the captain, even though he was all alone in the water with the enemy.
Win I am so sorry for your loss. No one can know your pain and the Captain’s pain. People are jerks. the families of those who did not survive needed a scapegoat, but to send hate mail was completely wrong. Wishing you peace.
My father, a country boy from the mountains of Virginia was in the US Navy during WWII and served in the South Pacific aboard the destroyer, USS McDermut (DD-677) and experieced some of the horrors of sea battles. I am new to the history of the USS Indianapolis and I am SO SORRY for the way your father was treated. Only God knows the incredible horrible situations soldiers and sailors are put in during war. Those of us sitting at home are in no position to judge. Blessings on you and your family
God Bless him. He was treated terribly by the Navy. I thank him for his service. I’m so sorry for your family’s humiliation.
My father was from Scotland and emigrated to Canada where he served in WWI. Following that he obtained U S Citizenship in 1925. In 1941, he returned to Canada where he re-enlisted to serve in WW11. He made 11 transatlantic crossings on a hospital ship, traveling between England, and Halifax. I know folks, he wasn’t on the Indianapolis, but he shared the same waters and risks as the Indianapolis. He shared stories of being hunted and chased by German and then the Japanese warships.
My maternal uncle, Donald F. Mack, was the bugler on watch on the USS Indianapolis when the torpedo hit. Luckily, he was one of the survivors. Later that year, he testified at the Court Martial of Captain McVay.
Donald Flemming Mack was a Bugler 1st Class on the Indy. He is mentioned many times in the recent book by Vincent and Vladic, “Indianapolis.” May he Rest in Eternal Peace.
My great uncle Emmet Ball lost his life on the USS Indianapolis. Thank you for posting their story.
Emmet Edwin Ball was a Seaman 2nd Class on the Indy. May he Rest in Eternal Peace.
My great uncle Stanley Lipski was an officer on the Indianapolis and is credited with helping get men out of the below decks area during the sinking. My dad was named for him and was heartbroken when his uncle was lost at sea (which I believe is still the official designation for his military status). I remember my great uncle every year in July.
Commander Stanley Walter Lipski is mentioned many times in Vincent and Vladic’s recent book. May he Rest in Eternal Peace.
My mother had us Pray each night and always said a special one for ‘The Sailors at Sea’.
Not until I grew up did I understand why. My oldest brother and two Uncles had served in WW11 in the Royal Navy and the Merchant Marine.
Both my Uncles had survived more than one sinking. One had spent nearly 30 days adrift on a liferaft in the North Atlantic.
My brother was serving on Midget Subs on highly dangerous missions.
What many people don’t know is that when a British Merchant Marine ship was sunk, the wages of the crew stopped being paid from that point. Families at home had to survive on Charitable donations.
I still Pray for those ‘In peril on the Sea’.
The ‘Indianapolis’ is another indication of how sudden and with tragic consequences that reverberate down the years is the loss of a ship at sea whatever the reason.
God Grant Them Peace.
When I was in 7th Grade, 1958-59, my teacher read the book “Indianapolis” or parts of some book about the ship. One of my classmate’s father was on that ship. Luckily, he survived.
My father, Norman H. Roberts, was a survivor of the USS Indianapolis disaster. He lived a life of achievement and honor after leaving the Navy, until his death in 2000. He spoke several times about his experiences at schools and church groups. It stayed close to his heart his entire life. He lived in New Boston, Ohio.
May Machinist’s Mate 1st Class Norman Harold Roberts Rest in Eternal Peace.
Thank you from the depth of my heart and soul for getting the key components to the destination to end the war. Thank you and much honor to all for bringing peace and a better life for all today with your courage. God bless you.
I just finished Chris Wallace’s book “Countdown 1945” describing the final weeks of phenomenal effort and coordination involved in getting all the necessary pieces to the small island of Tinian in order to assemble what became the first atomic bomb and consummate the “Manhattan Project”. The Indianapolis made the the 9,000 miles from San Francisco in a record 10 days, delivered it’s secret cargo and headed for the Philippines as ordered. To maintain absolute secrecy, the cruiser was ordered to travel alone and stay isolated from any ships or aircraft to avoid Japanese notice. After delivering the uranium payload the Indianapolis sank 4 days later but with mission accomplished. Captain McVay should have been celebrated.
There is a scene in the movie, “Jaws”, where Quint’s character references the USS Indianapolis and what happened to those sailors. It may have been just an actor saying lines, but Robert Shaw’s story about the ship and it’s crew was very powerful.
True. But as I recall, there were several factual errors in the soliloquy, including the date of the event and the number of lives lost. There may have been others, but those are two I remember at the moment.
What a powerful piece of history to learn. Thank you for your service and Thank you to the Captain for attending to his crew.
Is there a list of the names of the men who were on this ship? My grandfather was on one but he would never talk about the war so I never knew the name of the ship he was on
Yes, there is. The book “In Harm’s Way,” by Doug Stanton included a complete muster roll, as I recall. So does the more recent book, “Indianapolis,” by Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic. Both are readily available for purchase or through your local libraries. And both are great reads.
Amy, I have a muster roll from Vincent’s book in front of me. If you give me your grandfather’s name, I will check right now.
I’m also wondering the same thing. I believe my uncle may have been in this ship.
Virginia L. Long
Virginia, I have a list of the muster roll in front of me from Vincent’s book. If you give me his name, I will check for you now.
Yes, Virginia, there is. The book “In Harm’s Way,” by Doug Stanton included a complete muster roll, as I recall. So does the more recent book, “Indianapolis,” by Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic. Both are readily available for purchase or through your local libraries. And both are great reads.
I was a sailor on the USS Joseph T. Dickman, APAH 13 with 2000 troops onboard for the invasion of Japan in the South Pacific near the Marshall Islands when the USS Indianapolis was sunk just to our south. We had sailed from Pearl Harbor without escort also. We were really a prime target and didn’t realize it until after the War. The Air Force dropped those bombs a few days later and I am sure it saved our lives. We then proceeded on to Tacloban, PI to leave the troops. Then we sailed to Manila, PI and picked up 1600 American and British POWs fresh out of a Jap prison camp and brought them back to San Francisco. We were very lucky that Jap sub didn’t get us. The Dickman made five major invasions in WWII in the Atlantic and Pacific without losing a man. She was one of 600 combat ships manned by the United States Coast Guard in WII
The email I received from Fold3 forwarding the story of the Indy was captioned “Largest Loss of Life in U.S. Naval History.” That is arguably untrue.
More lives were lost at sea when the Japanese military-transport ship “Arisan Maru” sank in the South China Sea on October 24, 1944.
But you say those were not U.S. lives? The vast majority lost were American fighting men — more than the number lost on the Indy. The Arisan Maru was a POW ship out of the Philippines carrying some 1800 starving and sick prisoners for forced labor in Japan and Formosa (now called Taiwan).
But you say that was not U.S. Naval History? The Arisan Maru — not carrying any markings to show she was a POW ship — was sunk by the USS Shark II (SS-314), an American submarine. Later that day during the same action, the Shark was sunk by the Japanese Imperial Navy, resulting in the loss of all 87 crew members.
I think of that story — as well as the Indy — when I see some folks unduly glamorizing war. Yes, General Sherman was correct in his characterization . . . .
I have noticed your posts and your extreme bias towards the men of the Southern Confederacy. “Glamorizing war” can also be a manifestation of righteousness on the part of the victors who for all intents and purposes have written the narrative. In that respect, you are a hypocrite and a purveyor of historical untruths. It is widely known that the South had complete Constitutional and moral authority for wanting to secede from the Union. Even Supreme Court Judge Salmon concurred on that issue. It was the tyrant Lincoln who violated the Constitution, not once, but many times during the course of an unprovoked and unnecessary War. How quickly and easily people like yourself call the original Americans traitors. The grandsons of the Founding Fathers, “traitors”… when the opposite is true. Your indoctrinated bias, and glossing over of the lies perpetrated by the victors makes it impossible for you to be a “historian”, amatuer, or otherwise…
Thanks for reading my comments and your post, James. I rely on such views to demonstrate that the historical roots of the Civil War stubbornly persist in today’s society. (They also make for good PowerPoint slides.) And duly noted that you refer to President Lincoln employing the same Confederate trope said to be uttered by his assassin on April 14, 1865, more than 155 years ago . . . .
Perhaps the fate on the Indianapolis was another factor that influenced Truman’s decision to use the nukes. The events of about a week later, Aug 6 and 9th, are well-known. And, often recounted by some who would portray the Japanese as victims.
There are also some who have noticed that Oppenheimer and his boys were perhaps a year-behind their original projections. And, what a shame that delay was!
My message is unrelated to the current article, but perhaps someone can help me find my father’s military record. I have located his registration card. He was a private in the Army in WWII. He was in the Pacific. He would never talk about the war. He died in 2007 and buried in one of MD’s Veterans Cemeteries. Robert Edward Hunt.
Patricia, most official WWII-era personnel files were destroyed some years ago in a fire. (I can usually find out more about a Civil War soldier’s service record than a WWII veteran, especially an enlisted man.) Nevertheless, you can request any extant records online from NARA and/or the VA, who will attempt to locate what little can be found. Beyond that, I would suggest extensive Google and newspaper searches, as well as Fold3.com and Ancestry.com, regarding him and his unit. Good luck!
Ancestry.com is connected to Fold 3.
Type in the information from the enlistment/registration card and you should find link sources. Good luck, God Bless You!
Ancestry.com is connected to Fold 3.
Type in the information from the enlistment/registration card and you should find link sources. Good luck, God Bless You!
Patricia, you will probably not find the information you are seeking by using Fold3 or Ancestry, so don’t get unduly frustrated.
As I said, most of the Army’s WWII consolidated personnel files were destroyed by a St. Louis fire in 1973, and thus were not available for scanning by the time digital services such as Ancestry and Fold3 were created years later. Although some isolated and specialized federal military Army records (e.g., original enlistment, hospital admissions, MIA/KIA records, POW status, missing aircraft records, officer registers, et al.), as well as state records (e.g., state compensation files for wartime federal service, state guard files, et al.) are occasionally available on Fold3 or Ancestry, I confirmed that nothing appears to be readily available that would identify your father’s unit or service details.
After finding your father’s draft registration card, I also quickly checked newspapers.com, especially in Baltimore, where I found wedding and obituary announcements for your father. However, nothing about his military service readily popped up. Nor did several different Google searches turn up anything useful.
Therefore, I suggest using the online NARA form (SF-180). It is relatively easy and should only take a few minutes to complete a request.
Here is a link to get you started:
And try clicking on this hot link at the foregoing linked page:
“Request Records Online with eVetRecs”
Although it could be some months before you receive a response, I have often been successful in at least identifying a veteran’s unit by filing such a request. You never know what random records will turn up. At one time, a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request could also be filed; however, that may have been folded into the NARA service.
Again, good luck!
I recall hearing that the skipper of the Japanese sub testified at Captain McVay’s trial, in his defence, that it did not matter if the cruiser did not zig zag as he would have been able to sink it anyway.
A couple years ago our Minnesota Twins 3 RBI All Star teams participated in the Regional Tournament hosted in Indianapolis, we stayed in the hotel that hosted the reunión. I was able to meet one of the survivors, what an honor. My hats off to the members of the USS Indianapolis. This journey and assignment was for ALL AMERICANS, and we are thankful for their courage to help secure our freedom…every American!!!
In memory of PFC Bryan Munson, part of the Marine contingent aboard, and native of Houston, Texas. He was my mother-in-law’s first cousin. After the war, one of the survivors visited his mother and said he saw PFC Munson give his life jacket to a sailor who couldn’t swim.
May PFC Bryan Cahill Munson, USMC, Rest in Eternal Peace. He is mentioned at page 145 of Vincent’s recent history of the Indy.
The Navy brass should have been court-martialed for losing track of the ship. Instead, they made the ship’s captain a scapegoat for their negligence. Typical military CYA.
Captain McVay may have been used as a scapegoat, just like Admiral Kimmel and General Short at Pearl. I believe FDR knew that Pearl was an intended target, but failed to alert the Commanding Officers, because he (FDR) wanted the US to be involved in the war, inspite of what he stated. The Shaw was the first American vessel to make contact with the Japanese and she reported this to Pearl, but it was blown off. However, had Adm. Kimmel took the call serious and alerted the crews back to the battlewagons, would there have been a major difference? Probably mor men killed. Plus the boilers of the ships were not going, so the time that it would have taken to bring the boilers on line and get the steam to drive the ships, would have taken forever and if some of the battleships pulled away from the pier, they would have been caught in the channel, where the Japanese bombers and torpedo planes would have sunk them in the channel, consequently making Pearl Harbor useless as a naval base, at least for the duration of the war. General Short’s failing was to park his planes wingtip to wingtip, making them perfect targets and easily blown up. Had D.C. contacted the two commanders well ahead of the bombing, then maybe history would have changed. In the Indianapolis’ case, why did they send out this ship without escort? With the cargo they wrere carrying, you’d think that they would hhave protected this ship. What about her steaming to Guam and Leyte without escort? Was McVay too impatient to wait or, more likelly was told to head that way and good luck to you. Why he did not us the evasive maneuvers, we’ll never know, but had he had a decent escort, those subs probably would have been detected and driven off, thus saving the ship and crew.
There is a 13 foot model of the USS Indianapolis CA-35 located in the museum of 20th century modern warfare, Ft. Benjamin Harrison, Indianapolis, Indiana. The model was completed in 2009 and has been to every survivors reunion since. Except this year as their reunion has been canceled. I have spoken to many survivors and their opinions on how accurate the model is, most concur it is really good. This model was built by eight retired navy veterans and we proudly show her to the reunions.
My mother’s cousin, S2 Allen Murphy, was aboard these Indianapolis. His name appears on the memorial at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in the Philippines. I found it on findagrave and through ancestry.
Read Enola Gay: Mission to Hiroshima to find out why the Indianapolis was traveling alone. The Japanese sub, I-58, that sunk her was the last operational sub they had in the area. The book also explains why the ship sunk so fast. Like so many disasters, it was a confluence of unrelated events that came together at the right moment to make it happen. Even the weather played a part in why the Cruiser was not zig zaging when it was hit.
As a young sailor 1961-1965 and knowing the story of the Indianapolis and other ships sunk at sea, I would always have some anxiety in the middle of the Pacific especially as I stood watch at the helm. God bless them and may they all rest in peace and in our hearts of appreciation.
My Grandmothers cousin Allen Charles Streich Radioman First Class served on the Indy taking part in 10 major actions before dieing on her in her last voyage.
On his final leave he said he had had a premonition that he wouldnt be coming back.
I still have the letter my nans cousin Allen’s Aunt sent to my nan here in England in 1945.We are and always have been immensely Proud of Allen and the sacrifice of all on the Indy and our link to a great ship.On Remembrance day Allens Name is Placed on a cross alongside his British Family.NEVER FORGOTTEN!
Slight Amendment i mistakenly put Allen Down as Radioman First Class when he was Radio man Second class.
If any of Allens Weidner cousins particularly any of Ralph weidner’s Family
read this it would be great to hear from them as the family lost touch.
The title of the Fold3 message that links to this “Largest Loss of Life at Sea in US History” and that title is not correct as stated. If qualified by stating loss of life from only one ship it would be accurate. Otherwise, the US Navy’s losses at the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal exceed the Indianapolis sinking by several hundred. Over the course of the nights of 13 and 14 November 1942 the US Navy met units of the Imperial Japanese Navy in the area known as Ironbottom Sound. The light cruisers Atlanta, Juneau, destroyers Cushing, Laffey, Barton, Monssen, Walke, Preston, and Benham were all sunk. Battleships South Dakota, Washington, heavy cruisers San Francisco, Portland, light cruiser Helena, destroyers Gwin, Sterett, O’Bannon, Aaron Ward, and Fletcher all were damaged with casualties. US losses were 1732 killed. Japan lost two battleships, a heavy cruiser, 3 destroyers, and 11 transports sunk or beached. Their dead were estimated to be 1900 sailors and over 3000 soldiers lost with the transports.
Then why not include the entire “island hopping” campaign? Or what about the “Battle of the Atlantic,” soon to be a Tom Hanks movie? 😉
In all seriousness, most would correctly infer — especially given the context –the loss of a single ship . . . . In that regard, you probably didn’t read my post above about the sinking of the Arisan Maru, which resulted in the loss of almost 1800 Americans on . . . .
a single ship. Posted on July 6 at 12:34 pm.
1177 Died on the USS Arizona
True. But the first paragraph of the piece clarifies, “The disaster resulted in the largest loss of life AT SEA in US Navy history.” The Arizona was not at sea.(In any event, it’s still a distant second to the Arisan Maru, albeit by “friendly fire.”)
The subject of the email message sent to me from Fold3 did not say “at sea,” by the way.
The US Naval Institute has 1,600 photos from the collection of PhotoMate 1st class Alfred J. Sedivi, USN who was the official Navy photographer on the USS Indianapolis (CA-35) almost the entire war in the Pacific. Many are photos of the crew from 1942 until the sinking, July 30, 1945, and many of the Islands taken by the US during that time. Alfred Sedivi flew one of the Curtis Scout planes and took many photos from the air and on the islands behind the Marines. Just go to the USNI web site Photo Collection – it is the first one listed. Naval History Magazine published a large article about the collection in the August 2014 issue titled “Shooting the Pacific”. The 30 year old Alfred Sedivi went down with the ship as he was in his dark room developing photos. His last package of photo was mailed home 3 days before the sinking from Tinian.
Thanks. Good stuff! BTW, Alfred Joseph Sedivi was rated 2d Class, not 1st.
Harlan Twible is my relative. We consider him a true hero. He walked humbly & was grateful to help save lives.We miss him dearly.
Some few commenters have defended the use of the image of Robert E. Lee on the masthead, in response to others who questioned why it appears here. I previously responded with detailed reasons why I support the removal of Lee’s image.
General Mark A. Miley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the administration’s senior military advisor, today called for “taking a hard look” at changing the names of ten Army bases — including Fort Lee — honoring Confederate officers who had fought against the Union during the Civil War. General Miley told Congress, “There is no place in our armed forces for manifestations, or symbols of racism, bias or discrimination.”
As the general explained at a House hearing just a few hours ago, “The Confederacy, the American Civil War, was fought, and it was an act of rebellion. . . . It was an act of treason, at the time, against the Union, against the Stars and Stripes, against the U.S. Constitution. Those officers turned their back on their oath.”
It has been reported that Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, as well as other senior officers and officials of the Army, Navy and Air Force, are in agreement. I am glad that these officials have publicly embraced my views. I hope to see the bases renamed — and the removal of all other divisive Confederate symbols on military installations — in the next year or two.
Make that General Mark A. Milley [sic].
To try and erase history is the beginning of a “big brother” America, I believe.
Bill, “erasing history” is a political talking point, not a real thing. Removing a common image of Lee from a masthead or moving a statue to another location erases nothing. Such acts are not changing or erasing any history — which is beyond the powers of mere mortals to go back in time, in any event — nor does it at all eliminate or detract from what’s readily available in any library or online, even here on Fold3 . . . . The numerous anachronistic hagiographies written in praise of a mythical Robert E. Lee may still be read by you and others as often as desired.
My husband’s brother Clarence C. Mlady, Seaman First Class, was one of the survivors. We are appreciative of the fact that this information is out there. So many of our younger generation do not know about this tragedy and how famous it was.
May S1C Clarence Charles Mlady Rest in Eternal Peace. And how tragically ironic that he would survive the sinking of the Indy, only to perish two decades later, along with his wife, in a traffic accident on the streets of Cleveland.
Bull S__T, renaming them is being RACIST in the EXTREME, SoThere!! And what the heck does this have to with the USS Indianapolis!.
1. Robert E. Lee’s image appears at the top of this military blog, therefore it is relevant to anything on this blog.
2. And the first African-American sailor to earn the Navy Cross, Doris Miller, served on the USS Indianapolis.
3. As a long-serving, retired Army officer myself, I stand with General Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — as well as our Secretary of Defense, the other joint chiefs, and a bipartisan committee of congressman having jurisdiction over renaming our bases — who, unlike Janis and Bill, well understand that our military is made up of ALL Americans, of ALL races, not just those who may still subscribe to the myth of the “Lost Cause,” or other such myopic fictions and aggressions. As explained by General Milley, the racist name and image of the treasonous Robert E. Lee is a direct affront to African Americans — who serve in the military in lager per capita numbers than white Americans. As a white officer, I am also offended by such racist manifestations. I stand with my Black comrades in arms and my senior fellow officers.
4. In any event, is it so hard to just be gracious and kind to those who have suffered 400 years of institutionalized racism?
Those who deny history or refuse to learn from it are doomed to repeat it. Look at the protesters we have today.
Thanks, Gary. I certainly couldn’t agree more. And the pernicious effects of such denials of history aren’t just limited to those related to slavery and racist symbols, like invidious portrayals of Robert E. Lee.
We are now seeing that those who deny the more recent history of the current pandemic by congregating and failing to wear face masks are literally “doomed to repeat” what previously happened in such coronavirus hotspots as New York City. Every night on TV or in the print media we see the deaths of young people who denied that history — and even protested against it — who, in their last breaths, regret not having learned from it . . . .
First, I don’t know why these posts about striking the Confederate references appear on a page dedicated to the USS Indianapolis.
Second, I’ve known about the USS Indianapolis for years, ever since I watched JAWS for the first time on TV as a kid. It was a tragedy, but one that the US Navy helped create by insisting on so much secrecy around that voyage that Indianapolis was sailing without escorts and she was given only so much time to get to Tinian and then to Leyte that the captain had to make all possible speed and not zig-zag as was standing orders. Finally, the skipper of the sub that sank the Indianapolis has gone on record saying the use of zig-zagging would not have made any difference to whether or not he would have been able to torpedo the cruiser as Indianapolis sailed into his fire zone and he did not have to give chase. Also remember that Indianapolis was a Cincinnati class cruiser with a design flaw that put too little armor around the forward powder magazine protecting it from torpedo attacks. Just remember the fate of another Cincinnati class Cruiser the USS Juneau in 1942.
George, as observed in numerous previous posts by me and others, the image of Robert E. Lee (rather than General U.S. Grant) appears at the top of this “official” Fold3 blog, alongside the images of true American patriots Washington, Pershing and Eisenhower, all of whom — unlike Lee — prevailed against those who would deny the legitimacy of our independent Union. Indeed, Lee was a traitor to that Union, as explained to Congress just last week by General Mark A. Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. As Gary just observed, we should learn from (but not honor) that treasonous history of one who turned his back on the same officer’s oath I took many years ago.
And the racist symbol of Lee — as so recognized by General Milley — is especially invidious here, where it appears adjacent a photo of the USS Indianapolis, which sailed 75 years after the Civil War with a segregated crew, one of whom was the first African American to be awarded the Navy Cross.
As I also previously explained, Robert Shaw’s “Jaws” soliloquy — although quite well delivered — was factually wrong in several respects.
Finally, as far as the true facts regarding the sinking of the Indy and the subsequent history, several recent books well explain those in great, but riveting, detail. I recommend both “In Harm’s Way,” by Doug Stanton, and “Indianapolis,” by Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic, published in 2018. Both books contain a final muster roll of the ship’s crew, which I often consult.
Stay safe and please wear a mask!
Kudos to Fold3 for its removal of the long-standing image of Robert E. Lee from the masthead of this “official” blog (even if it also meant the tactful removal of Washington, Pershing and Eisenhower). I am glad that the numerous comments posted here for the last several weeks had a salutary effect.
my dad was in ww11 vietam and the gulf war how can i find out things about him? he never really talked much about work. all i know is how much he loved to be on those huge ships. his name is melvin rivers. and now he live in the navy capitol charleston sc.
What’s his middle name?
I agree that discussion of removing history, images, etc. don’t belong on this blog.
Having just finished reading the book “In Harms Way” it seems the comment of not having enough life preservers is wrong. They had received a large shipment of them just before leaving the U.S. west coast; more than they needed. Also, though this says the Caption McVay “passed away”, he actually committed suicide after years of enduring hate mail from family members of those lost. There are so many things that the navy did wrong in this situation. It is too bad the news was suppressed and then clouded over by the end of the war.