U.S.S. INDIANAPOLIS MEMORIAL; Congressional Record Vol. 141, No. 129
(Extensions of Remarks - August 04, 1995)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E1636-E1638]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                      U.S.S. INDIANAPOLIS MEMORIAL


                        HON. ANDREW JACOBS, JR.

                               of indiana

                    in the house of representatives

                         Friday, August 4, 1995
  Mr. JACOBS. Mr. Speaker, all Americans will be grateful to the 
Congress and to the President for adopting last year the following 
resolution commanding the noble service to our country rendered by the 
U.S.S. Indianapolis and its crew. The death of the Indianapolis and 
very many of its hands represents one of the more poignant tragedies of 
World War II inasmuch as it all happened shortly before the end of 
hostilities with Japan.
  At long last a suitable monument has been erected in the city of 
Indianapolis. The monument was dedicated on the second day of August of 
this year. In addition to the resolution itself which follows, I insert 
a story from the Indianapolis News and a story from the Indianapolis 
Star about this touching occasion.
  Special tribute should be paid to Patrick J. Finneran, Capt. James 
Holds, USN retired, Dr. Giles G. McCoy and Robert H. McKinney, who 
together with other pillars in the Indianapolis community, worked 
tirelessly and lovingly to bring all of this well deserved remembrance 
    The Congress of The United States of America, the 103d Congress 
                       Assembled, Law No. 103-337

       Sec. 1052 U.S.S. Indianapolis (CA-35) For gallantry, 
     sacrifice and a decisive mission to end world War II.
       1. The U.S.S. Indianapolis served the people of the United 
     States with valor and distinction throughout World War II in 
     action against enemy forces in the Pacific Theater of 
     Operations from 7 December 1941 to 29 July 1945.
       2. The fast and powerful heavy cruiser with its courageous 
     and capable crew, compiled an impressive combat record during 
     her victorious forays across the battle-torn reaches of the 
     Pacific, receiving in the process ten hard-earned Battle 
     Stars from the Aleutians to Okinawa.
       3. This mighty ship repeatedly proved herself a swift hard-
     hitting weapon of our Pacific Fleet, rendering invaluable 
     service in anti-shipping, shore bombardments, anti-air and 
     invasion support roles, and serving with honor and great 
     distinction as Fifth Fleet Flagship under Admiral Raymond 
     Spruance, USN, and Third Fleet Flagship under Admiral William 
     F. Halsey, USN.
       4. This gallant ship, owing to her superior speed and 
     record of accomplishment, transported the world's first 
     operational atomic bomb to the Island of Tinian, 
     accomplishing her mission at a record average speed of 29 
       5. Following the accomplishment of her mission, the 
     Indianapolis departed Tinian for 

[[Page E 1637]]
     Guam and, thereafter, embarked from Guam for the Leyte Gulf where she 
     was to join with the fleet assembling for the invasion of 
       6. At 0014 hours on 30 July 1945, the U.S.S. Indianapolis 
     was sunk by enemy torpedo action.
       7. Of the approximately 900 members of her crew of 1,198 
     officers and men who survived the initial torpedo attack, 
     only 319 were eventually rescued because, as a result of the 
     ship's communication ability having been destroyed in the 
     attack, the sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis was not 
     discovered for five fateful days, during which the survivors 
     suffered incessant shark attacks, starvation, desperate 
     thirst, and exposure.
       8. From her participation in the earliest offensive actions 
     in the Pacific in World War II to becoming the last capital 
     ship lost in that conflict, the U.S.S. Indianapolis and her 
     crew left an indelible imprint on our nation's struggle to 
     eventual victory.
       9. This selfless and outstanding performance of duty 
     reflects great credit upon the ship and her crew, thus 
     upholding the very highest traditions of the United States 

                    recommendation and commendation

       Congress, acting on behalf of the grateful people of the 
     United States, hereby--Recognizes the invaluable 
     contributions of the U.S.S. Indianapolis to the ending of 
     World War II; and, On the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of 
     her tragic sinking, and the dedication of her National 
     Memorial in Indianapolis on August 2nd, 1995, commends this 
     gallant ship and her crew for selfless and heroic service to 
     the United States of America.

Crewmen Applaud U.S.S. ``Indianapolis'' Memorial--107 Survivors Attend 
                           Ceremony Downtown

                        (By Welton W. Harris II)

       As the sun beat down on today's dedication of the USS 
     Indianapolis national memorial, 3,500 onlookers stood and 
     applauded 107 crewmen who survived the sinking 50 years ago.
       For those who didn't make it, like Adrian Marks of 
     Frankfort, Dr. Giles G. McCoy, chairman of the survivors' 
     group, said it all: ``He was there when we needed him, and 
     that was the important thing.''
       The ceremonies today at the headwaters of the Downtown 
     Canal concluded a 30-year effort to raise a memorial to the 
     ship and its crew, especially the 880 who didn't survive.
       The Indianapolis was en route from Guam to Leyte on July 
     30, 1945, when it was torpedoed and sunk by a Japanese 
       Because of wartime conditions, and partly through 
     negligence, the loss of the heavy cruiser went undetected for 
     four days.
       Survivors were left in the Pacific Ocean, where many 
     drowned or became victims of shark attacks.
       While flying patrol on Aug. 2, Lt. Wilbur C. Gwinn detected 
     an oil slick. When he flew lower, he saw the survivors. He 
     radioed for assistance, which came in the form of Lt. Marks 
     and the crew of his PBY flying boat.
       Gwinn, who died two years ago, was represented at today's 
     ceremonies by his widow, Norma.
       Marks, whose health prevented him from attending, picked up 
     56 survivors and broke radio silence with his distress 
     signal. Five rescue ships responded.
       Of the crew, only 317 survived.
       Today, there are 127 living, and 107 came to see the 
     granite and limestone memorial.
       Louis P. Bitoni of Warren, Mich., was a seaman first class 
     gunners mate 50 years ago.
       Today, he brought 22 members of his family to the 
     ceremonies, including his wife, brothers and their wives, his 
     children and grandchildren.
       After the unveiling he said: ``It's great. It's everything 
     I hoped it would be.''
       Dr. Lewis Haynes of Naples, Fla., the ship's doctor, and 
     Harold Schechterle of Shelburn Falls, Mass., recounted their 
     experience 50 years ago.
       Haynes had removed the appendix of the ship's radar 
     operator eight days before the sinking.
       ``It would be harder today,'' the doctor told his former 
     patient, pointing at Schechterle's midsection, which Haynes 
     said had grown over the years.
       McCoy, part of the U.S. Marine detachment on the 
     Indianapolis, brought his wife, three children and four 
       He has been chairman of the survivors association since it 
     formed in 1960 and held it first gathering in Indianapolis.
       Accepting the memorial today on behalf of the association, 
     McCoy cut short his remarks.
       ``This heat reminds me of what it was like out there in 
     that sea 50 years ago,'' he said.
       Despite the heat and humidity, crowds lined both sides of 
     the canal and the memorial plaza for the 50-minute ceremony, 
     led by Marine Sgt. Maj. Mac Magana of Indianapolis.
       When the canvas fell away from the memorial the crowd again 
     stood and applauded.
       Within minutes, two old warbirds, replicas of the aircraft 
     that found the survivors--a PBY and a PV2 Harpoon--lumbered 
     over the site as the participants again applauded.
       Tuesday night, more than 2,000 people--including ``lost-at-
     sea family members''--attended a ``Banquet of Thanksgiving'' 
     at the Hyatt Regency.
       McCoy's son, Craig, 43, of Abiline, Texas, said now that 
     the survivors' numbers are dwindling, their children have 
     formed the group ``Second Watch'' to carry on the tradition.

  Memorial to the U.S.S. ``Indianapolis'' Helps the Survivors Put the 
                          Tragedy Behind Them

                        (By R. Joseph Gelarden)

       As the chilling echoes of taps cut through a blistering 
     summer sun, Eleanor Sforzo stood quietly. Her son, Joe 
     Musarra Jr., reached out his burly arm and pulled her to his 
       Both had tears in their eyes--the smallish, white-haired 
     woman remembering a young sailor who never came home, and her 
     son, a Cleveland police sergeant, whispering a prayer for the 
     dad he never knew.
       The two were among the thousands gathered Wednesday at the 
     Downtown Canal to dedicate a national memorial to the USS 
     Indianapolis, the last U.S. ship lost in World War II.
       Hundreds of old sailors, their once-dark military haircuts 
     replaced with gray, joined with the wives and families of 
     their shipmates in Downtown Indianapolis for a final salute 
     to the fallen ship and the hundreds of crewmen who perished 
     in the Pacific after the ship was torpedoed by a Japanese 
       ``It's a very special day,'' Sforzo said.
       It was a different world when Eleanor married Joe Musarra. 
     The world was at war, and the rules seemed simple: Men went 
     into the service, women stayed home.
       Joe Musarra was assigned to the USS Indianapolis, one of 
     the Navy's fastest and most powerful floating weapons. She 
     was a veteran of 10 battles and served as a flagship for 
     fleet admirals. She carried President Franklin D. Roosevelt 
     on so many trips that he called her his ``ship of state.''

                           helped end the war

       Joe and Eleanor had only a few days together before he was 
     ordered back to San Francisco to rejoin the Indianapolis for 
     another mission. The ship had been ordered to speed to a tiny 
     Pacific island to deliver a top-secret cargo, critical parts 
     for the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, in 
     an act that ended the war.
       ``The ship was sunk in July. I was born in January,'' the 
     son explained.
       Eleanor remarried and had nine kids. She loved her new 
     husband; but deep in her heart, she remembered her Joe.
       ``I hurt for a long time. But now the time for hurt is 
     past. This (monument) is so nice. It is like a final memorial 
     service,'' she said.
       ``Tell the people (the survivors) that they (the sailors 
     that perished) are now with God and He takes special care of 
     His own,'' she said.
       For Charles B. McVay IV, the service was a fine tribute. 
     But for his family, the story didn't end Wednesday. It won't 
     be closed until the Navy wipes the court-martial off his 
     father's record.
       The sinking of the USS Indianapolis was the Navy's greatest 
     sea disaster. About 880 of the nearly 1,200 crewmen were able 
     to escape the sinking ship, which went down in only 12 
     minutes. Of the 880, only 317 were rescued days later.
       For Capt. McVay, survival meant humiliation. The Navy 
     brass, looking for a scapegoat, court-martialed him for 
     failing to take a zig-zag course--one in which the ship might 
     have avoided an attack.
       Years later, his career ruined and still haunted by the 
     military action, McVay committed suicide.
       McVay's son, now 70, and many of the survivors who gathered 
     for the memorial believe it's only right that the Navy admit 
     it was wrong and take steps to erase that black mark from 
     history. But until now, their requests have been rejected by 
     presidents, Navy secretaries and admirals.
       ``Last night, at the survivor's dinner, Admiral Quast (Vice 
     Admiral Philip M. Quast, the official Navy representative at 
     the ceremony) and the Navy legal man (Joseph G. Lynch, 
     assistant general counsel for the Navy Department), admitted 
     to me that the
      court-martial was wrong. . . . It should never have 
     happened,'' said McVay.
       ``It is the first time the Navy has ever admitted the 
     truth. Maybe there is now a chance to clear his name.''

                        ship's bell rings again

       Mike G. Obledo, 70, Houston, was one of McVay's sailors on 
     the Indianapolis. But he didn't know the skipper. He was just 
     another seaman on a great ship.
       Wednesday, he and the other sailors marched into the 
     ceremony as boatswain's pipes sang out and the old ship's 
     bell tolled. The bell was removed from the ship when she went 
     into wartime service. It is now kept at the Hessler Naval 
     Armory in Indianapolis.
       Obledo and his shipmate, Gus Kay, now a deputy sheriff in 
     Illinois, were self-styled ``young punks'' when they were 
     dumped into the milk-warm waters of the Pacific after the 
       ``I was on a net raft. The sharks took 63 of our guys, but 
     I don't know how I survived,'' said Kay.
       But Obledo thinks he knows the secret.
       ``It was prayer. That was about the size of it. You prayed. 
     If you didn't know how to pray, you learned real quick.''
       On Aug. 2, 1945, the crewmen of the Indianapolis were 
       Fifty years later, under a similarly searing sun, they 
     finally were able to pay tribute to the ship, their lost 
     shipmates and their families, and to each other.
       ``It's over,'' said retired Indianapolis firefighter Jim 
     O'Donnell, the only local survivor.

[[Page E 1638]]

       ``It's finally over.''