Indianapolis-The story of USS Indianapolis (CV-35)

USS Indianapolis
Courtesy of Wikipedia

Many years ago, forgotten is the name of the book I read regarding the sinking of the USS Indianapolis. Not forgotten is the image of nearly 900 men going into the water. Thu and their fight for survival. Some severely injured, but all fought against the sea, hunger, thirst, and sharks. They pulled 316 from the sea alive.

I saw a book on the cruiser, USS Indianapolis (CV-35), at a relative’s house in Ohio. Interest in this ship’s story revived, I made a mental note to find the book and read it again. I didn’t locate it but found one I highly recommend to everyone.

Indianapolis-the book

Indianpolis by Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic is a detailed account of events leading to the USS Indianapolis (CV-35) sinking and the fight to exonerate Captain Charles McVay III.

The authors fuel interest in the ship by providing some of its histories before the sinking. It was Admiral Spruance’s flagship for several major battles in the Pacific. They follow it through its damage in battle requiring withdraw for repair.

Little Boy

It returned to service in time for selection as the ship to deliver the components of the first atomic bomb to Tinian. The happenstance for the cruiser’s selection presaged with detailed information regarding the effort to create the bomb, the decision to use it, and preparations to bring it to the war theater.

Delivery of the bomb parts successful, the Indianapolis was transiting to Leyte from Guam. A Japanese submarine in the path of the Indianapolis shot six torpedoes, of which two struck the cruiser with fatal results. Within minutes, the captain called for the crew to abandon ship.

I-58

The authors recount the actions that meant the submarine wasn’t there by luck. The military determined to fight to the last, and the I-58 (IJN) was to use human guided torpedoes to sink enemy ships. It was obeying this mission when encountering the Indianapolis.

Captain McVay was court martialed, not for losing the ship but for failure to zigzag. Survivors and others considered his conviction to be a cover up. Covering for persons who knew of submarines in the area of Indianapolis transit and did not tell Captain McVay. Persons who did not track the cruiser, resulting in the men being in the shark infested waters for five days. Failure in procedures at many levels. Through efforts of survivors for over fifty years, they exonerated Captain McVay.

Providence

The men’s sighting was providence (IMO). The airplane being where it was, the failure of the weight on the long wire antenna twice, the men looking through the window in the floor at just the right time, are beyond coincidence.

Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic bring the alive through the stories of the men who sailed on and loved the USS Indianapolis. The details provided by the men who survived gave life to the ship, to the fury of its sinking, to the fight for survival until after five days, only 316 men of nearly 900 who went into the sea pulled from it. Then their fight to clear their captain.

But, they make the story whole with facts from other interviews, from Navy records, and from the research of others. The authors provide extensive documentation of the resources used for this book.

This is an engaging read. One I highly recommend.

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