The men who survived the worst sea disaster in U.S. naval history – The survivors of the World War II sinking of the USS Indianapolis – have shared their memories of the horror story as Hollywood prepares to release two movies on the subject. Nicholas Cage and Robert Downey Jr are starring in separate films about the naval disaster as the 70th anniversary approaches on July 30. It’s a long-time coming for the survivors, who are now in their 80s and 90s and are helping the producers and actors get their stories together for the proper treatment.
Of the 1,197 men aboard the Indianapolis when it was torpedoed by the Japanese, only 317 survived after spending five days adrift in shark-infested waters, and 32 of those men are still alive today.
I hope to Gawd Hollywood pays a true tribute to the ship, its crew, and in particular to Captain Charles B. McVay III who was shamefully hung out to dry when he was Court-Martialled by the USN. Yours_Aye.
“Captain McVay was found guilty on the charge of ‘Suffering his vessel to be hazarded by not zigzagging.’ The court sentenced him to lose 100 numbers in his temporary rank of Captain and 100 numbers in his permanent rank of Commander, thus ruining his Navy career.”
Captain Charles McVay Testifying at his Court Martial
In 1946, at the behest of Admiral Nimitz who had become Chief of Naval Operations, Secretary Forrestal remitted McVay’s sentence and restored him to duty. McVay served out his time in the New Orleans Naval District and retired in 1949 with the rank of Rear Admiral. He took his own life in 1968.
“In the early afternoon of a dreary November day in 1968, he told his housekeeper that he would eat his sandwich later. He had shared with her earlier that he had been having nightmares about sharks. He then walked into the front yard, lay down, and shot himself in the head. He was holding a toy soldier his father had given him as a boy. Twenty-three years after the disaster, and years of receiving Christmas hate mail blaming him for the loss of loved ones, his mental anguish over the catastrophe was finally over. His question – why the Navy had taken five days to rescue him and his men, has never been satisfactorily answered. As one of the Marine survivors, Melvin C. Jacob, recounted in an interview, McVay repeatedly raised this question to anyone who would listen. But there was no answer. As Jacob stated, had even one more day gone by, there would have been no survivors from the Indianapolis.”