USS Indianapolis survivors perhaps in last reunion - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

USS Indianapolis survivors perhaps in last reunion

Updated:
USS Indianapolis USS Indianapolis
Dick Thelen Dick Thelen
Edgar Harrell Edgar Harrell
INDIANAPOLIS -

Survivors of the USS Indianapolis are meeting in Indianapolis perhaps for the final time. Those young men are now in their eighties, telling unforgettable acts of courage and compassion they hope others remember.

The young faces of courage and steel-like strength are 68 years older and much happier.

"I'm an old Marine, an 89-year-old Marine," said Edgar Harrell, USS Indianapolis Survivor.

He's one of the few living survivors of America's worst naval tragedy.

"I got over it. I'm happy to be here with family and friends and I'm happy I can tell the story," said Dick Thelen.

The story of the USS Indianapolis: It secretly delivered critical atomic bomb parts to a remote Pacific Island and was speeding home when sunk by the torpedoes of a Japanese submarine.

"I can tell you things that happened all four days and as I tell it I still see it vividly today," said Harrell.

Some 300 men went down with the ship. Another 600 died of thirst, were consumed by madness or devoured by sharks.

"All of a sudden you hear a scream and you see that jacket go under and then like a cork you see it come to the surface and all the fins coming around," said Harrell.

It was four and a half days before a patrol plane happened upon the survivors. The tragedy went largely overlooked until an Indiana sixth grader convinced congress to honor the Indianapolis and its crew.

Hunter Alan Scott became a Navy pilot trained to sink submarines.

"It was because of my relationship with the survivors that I decided wanted to join the military. I couldn't be more proud to serve," he said.

Of the original 317 survivors, 38 are alive, with only 15 well enough to attend the reunion to be honored and remembered.

"We're still here. Some of us are still here," said Harrell.

One survivor says a quick trip to the USS Indianapolis memorial on the canal lasted five hours because so many people wanted to hear his story.

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