Tuesday, August 3, 2010

USS Indianapolis Survivor's Story

The USS Indianapolis transported the critical components of “Little Boy,” the Hiroshima atomic bomb to Tinian in July of 1945. Because of the top secret nature of the material on board, she was traveling on radio silence and without radar. After unloading her cargo and re-supplying at Guam, she steamed towards Leyte for gunnery exercises. At 12:14 AM on 30 July she was hit by torpedoes launched from Japanese submarine, I-58. She sank in 12 minutes. Over 300 men went down with the ship and the others, close to 900 men, were stuck in shark infested waters with no life boats and very little food and water. Four days later, survivors were spotted by a PV-1 Ventura on routine patrol. There were only 317 survivors. L.D. Cox is one of those survivors, below are excerpts from his oral history beginning with the third day of floating in the water after his ship was sunk.

"…Then everything got quiet and some would swim out and away from the group and never come back. You’d see sharks. Then it was so hot in the day you’d pray for night and whenever it came your teeth would actually chatter it was so cold, oh, it was cold. And then you’d pray for daylight and then here comes daylight. After about two days or so you’re not hungry anymore, I wasn’t, but you were thirsty. Oh, you never lost your thirst. On the second day I had a potato, an Irish potato floated by, and I picked it up and started to eat and I happened to think reckon it is soaked in salt water and I threw it away. I should have eaten it but I was very, very nervous about it.

…Every hour we thought there would be some airplanes or some ship to pick us up. We figured if we didn’t show up after a couple of days, they would come out and look. Nothing ever came and we just went night and day, night and day, and finally about the fourth day, you know, you were weak, your life preserver that’s supposed to last 72 hours had lasted 106, your nose is just barely out of water ‘cause that life preserver was water logged. You just barely could stay, at the start you could put your head back and if the sea was calm, you could get a little nap. Then whenever your preserver got water logged, every time you dropped your head, you strangled.

…Before we were picked up, I might add, less than three feet from me a shark came up and grabbed the sailor [next to me] and covered me with water, the tail of the shark did, engulfed me with water and he took the sailor down and I never saw him anymore. That’s how near, why he took him and not me, you wonder."