INDIANAPOLIS–Only 14 people who survived the sinking on the U.S.S. Indianapolis are still alive. Six of those survivors are expected in Indianapolis this week to commemorate the 73rd anniversary of the sinking of their ship, and to honor their lost shipmates.
The youngest survivor is Harold Bray, 91, of Benicia, Calif. Bray serves as chairman of the survivors organization.
Just after midnight on July 30, 1945, the Indianapolis was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine and sunk in 12 minutes. The Indianapolis had just completed a secret mission, delivering the first atomic bomb to the U.S. air base at Tinian where it would later be dropped on Hiroshima.
Sailors and Marines who survived the torpedo blasts, abandoned ship and floated for almost five days in shark-infested waters before they were accidentally spotted by Navy pilot Lt. Wilber C. Gwinn who was flying a routine mission.
Of the total crew of 1,195 men, only 316 lived.
Last year, after 72 years, the U.S.S. Indianapolis, was found. Saturday, Paul Mayer, of the R/V Petrel team, credited with finding the Indianapolis in August, will present special footage and information about the expedition to find the ship. His presentation will be followed by a Q&A session, said a news release from the survivors organization.
The reunion will kick off with a welcome by Bray, and special guest speaker, Gov. Eric Holcomb. Additional event highlights include a special evening with the survivors of the Indianapolis and authors of the latest book about the ship, “INDIANAPOLIS – The True Story of the Worst Sea Disaster in U.S. Naval History and the Fifty-Year Fight to Exonerate an Innocent Man” by Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic.
Throughout the 4-day event, the 2017 Chicago Joseph Jefferson Recommended play “In the Soundless Awe” will be presented at the IndyFringe Theater. It takes place 22 years later, finding Charles Butler McVay III, the wrongly court-martialed and disgraced Captain of the U.S.S. Indianapolis, in his haunting final moments.
PHOTO: US Navy