USS Indianapolis reunion

(WTHR Photo/Anna Carrera)
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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — The last surviving crew members from the USS Indianapolis are in town this weekend for a big reunion. It's the first time they've had one since the wreckage of their World War II ship was found last summer.

They spent the morning signing autographs on a new book that tells their stories. Five of the remaining survivors made it to Indianapolis, along with family and friends of others who have passed away in the decades after it sank. It's still considered the Navy's single worst loss at sea, with nearly 900 people killed.

"World War II veterans are dying at an astronomical rate," said author Sara Vladic. "The youngest USS Indianapolis survivor we have right now is 91 [years old], so we don't have them very long. To have these first person accounts, to meet these men, is incredibly important, especially to the young generations.

That young generation includes an 11-year-old from Plainfield, who was also at the event. After Joel Gilbert's mom took him to a museum, he decided to make the USS Indianapolis out of Legos. He didn't use a kit, just did some research and used his own creativity. He says it took two months to make and that made talking with the survivors on Saturday morning even more memorable.

"It's been really fun and makes me feel like it's worth it, worth building and coming out here," said Gilbert.

The reunion wraps up on Sunday.