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USS Indianapolis book

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I've just finished reading "In Harm's Way" by Doug Stanton. Highly recommended.


"On 30 July 1945 the USS Indianapolis was torpedoed in the South Pacific by a Japanese submarine. Of a crew of 1,196 men an estimated 300 were killed upon impact; nearly 900 sailors were cast into the Pacific Ocean, where they remained, undetected by the Navy, for nearly five days. Battered by a savage sea, they struggled to stay alive, fighting off sharks, hypothermia and dementia. By the time rescue arrived, all but 321 men had died (four more would succumb to wounds in military hospitals)."


Rather than admit and address its own failings, the US Navy chose to court-martial Captain Charles McVay (who survived the disaster) and charge him with negligence of command. Of the nearly 400 US captains who lost their ships in WW2, he was the only one to be court-martialed. In fact, he is the only captain in the entire history of the Navy to be charged following the loss of a ship due to an act of war.


McVay took his own life in 1968, and was finally exonorated by Congress in 2000 (with much credit going to a 12 year old student in Pensacola who raised awareness of McVay's injustice). However, the Navy took another 8 months to clear his service record.


Superbly written by Stanton.

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