Thread: 30th July 1945

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    Default 30th July 1945

    At 0014, USS Indianapolis was struck by two torpedo's and sank in the waters of the Pacific Ocean, between the island of Guam and Leyte Gulf.

    Nine hundred United States sailors survived the sinking of the ship that had just delivered the worlds first atomic bomb. For four and a half days these 900 hundred men fought for their lives against nature, insanity and themselves. No one in the United States Navy even knew the ship was missing, marked only as "Not arrived on time".

    A lone pilot flying on a parallel course to the Indy's final course final discovered the oil slick and survivors. Only 317 men remained. Many haven been eaten alive in shark feeding frenzies.

    After the war, in an effort to cover their tracks, the military brought the ships commanding officer, Charles Butler McVay to court-martial. This was ordered despite recommendations from Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitiz and Admiral Raymond Spruance (who often flew his flag on the Indy). The US Govt charged Capt. McVay with "failing to order abandon ship and report its loss in a timely fashion" and "failure to maintain a zig-zag pattern". For the first time in the Navy's history, a commanding officer was brought to trial for the loss of his ship in active wartime operations. To further the "cause" of the Navy, the captain of the Japanese submarine was the prosecutions star witness. Capt. McVay was found guilty of endangering his ship.

    In the years following the verdict, Capt McVay and his family received hate mail from relatives of those who died. His wife contracted cancer and died. Capt McVay rarely attended ship reunions for the guilt and shame he felt from the loss of life. In 1968 the last victim of the sinking of the Indianapolis was discovered. Capt. McVay used his service revolver and took his own life at his home in Connecticut.

    In October of 2000 Senator Bob Smith (R-NH), Rep. Joe Scarborough (R- Fl) and Rep Neil Abercrombie (D-Ha) introduced legislation into Congress that was signed by Pres. Bill Clinton which stated the Governments position that Charles McVay was in no way responsible for the tragedy that befell his ship. However, the Legislative nor the Executive branch can remove the court-martial conviction of Capt McVay due to rules that prohibit the altering of military records.

    This story will be told tonight, July 29th on the Discovery Channel at 9PM Eastern time.
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    Last edited by DocVBFDE14; 07-29-2007 at 09:15 PM. Reason: fix of Discovery date/time
    Co 11
    Virginia Beach FD

    Amateurs practice until they get it right; professionals practice until they cannot get it wrong. Which one are you?

    'The fire went out and nobody got hurt' is a poor excuse for a fireground critique.

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    There's a whole lot more to this story, and I would recommend that anyone interested do some research on their own, as well as watch the Discovery Channel program. Having yet to see the DC show, I'm hoping it will be at least a little accurate.

    A couple of points that I'm interested in seeing if they discuss them:
    1. McVey had requested a destroyer escort because the Indianapolis didn't have sub detection equipment. He was told there were no Japanese submarines in the area, and the escort was refused. This was in spite of the fact no other capital ship had been allowed to transit this route without and escort throughout the whole war. Interestingly, a destroyer was known to have been sunk by a submarine well within the Indianapolis' course within a day or so of his departure.
    2. The ship sank in 12 minutes. If a ship the size of the Indy sank in 12 minutes, I doubt that many of the crew needed to be told to abandon ship. Any delay in the order from McVay being cited as a reason for so many deaths is rediculous.
    3. Navy regs were such that zig-zagging wasn't required under conditions of poor visibility, such as were present at the time the Indy was attacked.
    4. The most telling thing is the testimony from the Prosecution's "star" witness, the Japanese submarine Commander that sunk the Indy. He testified that he couls have sunk the ship even if it had been zig-zagging. That testimony was reinforced when a US sub Captain testified to the same thing.

    I've always been interested in this incident, and am anxious to see tonight's show. It's a damned shame that it took so long for everyone to see that a fine officer took a shellacking for something that was not his sole responsibility, if he was responsible at all. Before he died, the Japanese sub commander said in an interview that he felt the finding of the Court Martial was, "...contrived from the beginning."

    I think he was dead on. The lone remaining question is, who had enough juice to ignore the recommendations of Admirals Nimitz and Spruance against a court martial, and continue with the procedings? Somebody, somewhere in the chain of command in this incident had some pretty powerful friends watching out for them.
    Steve Gallagher
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    "I don't apologize for anything. When I make a mistake, I take the blame and go on from there." - Woody Hayes

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steamer View Post
    I think he was dead on. The lone remaining question is, who had enough juice to ignore the recommendations of Admirals Nimitz and Spruance against a court martial, and continue with the procedings? Somebody, somewhere in the chain of command in this incident had some pretty powerful friends watching out for them.

    Chief of Naval Operations Earnest King

    Secratary of the Navy James Forrestal

    Ironically enough, during the trial, Admiral King retired, thus promoting Adm. Nimitz to the position of CNO.

    Adm Nimitiz set aside the punishment metted out, instead docking McVay 200 points off promotional lists and current rank (100 each). McVay was then given command of Naval Region New Orleans, retiring in 1949.
    Co 11
    Virginia Beach FD

    Amateurs practice until they get it right; professionals practice until they cannot get it wrong. Which one are you?

    'The fire went out and nobody got hurt' is a poor excuse for a fireground critique.

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    long live the Mission of the Shark

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