Close to Nowhere

... the sharks took the rest

They’ve found the USS Indianapolis.

As a World War II history buff (actually all history), I’m fascinated by this discovery.

The announcement said, “The World War Two heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis has been found in the Pacific Ocean, 72 years after its sinking by a Japanese submarine. The warship was discovered 18,000 feet (5.5km) beeath the surface.

“The Indianapolis was destroyed returning from its secret mission to deliver parts for the atomic bomb which was later used on Hiroshima.

“Of the 1,196 men on board, just 316 were rescued - the largest loss of life at sea in the history of the U.S. Navy.”

In the movie “Jaws,” the boat captain tells one of his crew that he was on the Indianapolis. Capt. Quint tells a very chilling account of the ship sinking, “We had just delivered the bomb. The Hiroshima bomb. Eleven hundred men went into the water. The vessel went down in 12 minutes... Our bomb mission was so secret, no distress signal had been sent. They didn’t even list us as overdue for a week... So, 1,100 men went into the water, 316 came out. The sharks took the rest. June 29, 1945.”

Granted, it was a movie speech, but it’s accurate. Somebody did some research before they wrote that.

The USS Indianapolis was hit by a torpedo from a Japanese submarine somewhere in the Philippine Sea between Guam and Leyte.

Between 800-900 men escaped the sinking ship. But no distress call was ever received, and by the time the survivors were found, by chance, four days later, just 316 were left alive in the shark-infested waters.

One Indianapolis survivor said: “You could see the sharks circling.”

The 36 remaining survivors rarely talk about their harrowing experiences. One survivor, Corporal Edgar Harrell, eventually wrote a book.

“The men in the water faced relentless exposure to the sun, starvation, dehydration — surrounded by water, they had nothing to drink — and fatal saltwater poisoning if they gave in and tried to drink the ocean water.

“And then there were the sharks...”

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen led the civilian research team that found the USS Indianapolis. He said the find was “truly humbling.”

“A shark has lifeless eyes,” Capt. Sam Quint said.

Three hundred and sixteen survived...

Holly Springs South Reporter

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