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USS Indianapolis resolution well deserved

March 2, 2012
Estherville Daily News

At 12:50 p.m. Monday, family members of crew of the USS Indianapolis will be ushered into the House chamber in the state capitol in Des Moines for a special event.

The House will act on a resolution honoring those who died July 30, 1945, when the USS Indianapolis was sunk - just 12 minutes after it was struck by a Japanese submarine in the Philippine Sea.

To those aboard, it may have seemed as though most of them would survive - at least at first. While 300 perished immediately when the ship went down, the remaining 900 were left to fend for themselves in shark-infested waters. No lifeboats. No food. No water.

Somehow, the Navy had lost track of the ship that had just completed a very important mission - delivering parts that would be used to built the atomic bomb Little Boy.

By the time the survivors were accidentally spotted four days later, only 316 had survived.

Scapegoated in the disaster was Charles Butler McVay II, the ship's captain who survived losing his ship, survived losing his men, survived those four days at sea. Only to be court-martialed by "failing to zigzag" his ship to avoid being torpedoed. The higher Navy brass - those that had ignored the whereabouts of the Indianapolis, went blameless. McVay was later exonerated in October 2000 in legislation passed and signed by then-President Clinton.

Diane Blom of Estherville, whose uncle, Welburn Pender, was one of those lost, will attend Monday's ceremonies. Blom will join other family members of the lost Indianapolis crew in a reception Monday prior to the reading of the resolution.

All told, 27 Iowa sailors perished in the attack but two survived - Glen Milbrodt of Akron and Charles Wells of Camanche.



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