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INDIANAPOLIS — July 30, 1945.

That night — just two weeks before World War II ended — the USS Indianapolis was torpedoed and sunk by a Japanese submarine in the waters of the Pacific Ocean.

The cruiser had 1,195 men on board. More than 800 men survived the sinking. However, more died of exhaustion or from being eaten by sharks.

Only 316 men survived, and were rescued three days after the sinking.  

Admiral Sam Cox, Director of Naval History and Heritage Command, says the crew should always be remembered, but not just for the sinking. 

“(The USS Indianapolis) had ten battle stars and some of the most brutal combat throughout the entire course of the Pacific war,” Cox said. “They were heroes.”

“Even in a great tragedy like this one, there is valor, there is bravery. There’s also lessons learned, and in this case, many of them that need to be preserved and remembered.”

Cox adds that the captain, Charles B. McVay, should be known for his heroic actions after the sinking. 

“You could say he was just another man in the water trying to survive,” Cox said. “But he never relinquished command. He was in charge of everything he could see. He maintained discipline, and he issued orders that resulted in saving people’s lives.”

“It’s one thing to show great leadership when everything is going good, but to show that leadership under the most horrific circumstances, to me, is extraordinary.”

Of the survivors that were rescued on August 2, 1945, less than 15 are still alive today.

(Photo courtesy of Getty)