Mention Indianapolis and for most people like myself, the INDY 500 and Danica Patrick or the Indianapolis Colts and Peyton Manning comes to mind. Few think of the NBA Indiana Pacers or the USS Indianapolis.
Today, I have a history lesson that will forever be etched in my heart and mind when I think about Indianapolis. I have always had and always will have respect for those that serve our country and defend my freedom. On this Saturday afternoon I am privileged and honored to meet a few great men that served long before I was born.
Assigned a top secret mission, the ship sailed from the US West Coast near San Francisco.
Paul, a Signal Man First Class from West Virginia (According to Paul, The Best State in The Union) joined the US Navy at age 17. This was in 1944 after he dropped out of high school. Awakened in the middle of the night because his commander wants to double the night watch, Paul reports to his position on the bridge.
Today at 83, he is cheerfully trying to recruit me into the US Navy.
On July 30th 1945, the USS Indianapolis is attacked and sinks after being hit by two Japanese torpedoes. To date, it is the worst US Naval disaster. 880 men lost their lives in a most horrific way. Only 317 survived.
He somberly points skyward and tells me a part of his story.
In the water with only a life vest and surrounded by sharks, his will to live and not drinking the salt water allowed him to survive 4 nights and 5 days.
One survivor tells me he did not even know a nuclear bomb had been dropped until he was recovering in a hospital after being rescued.
I am indebted for their service along with their personal sacrifices and gladly purchase an autographed book with their stories. For me it will be a treasured keepsake.