Date: 2017-12-07 15:04
The 665-foot World War II heavy cruiser was divided in pieces. It sank in just 65 minutes, leaving a layer of black oil floating on the surface.
“Most everyone was pretty much in my condition. You couldn’t stand up. Even difficult to sit up. You were exhausted, probably lost 75 to 75 pounds,” Harrell said.
With the war ended, the scene then shifted to Washington. When orders were given to proceed with the court-martial of Captain McVay, only days before the trial actually began on December 8 at the Wastington Navy Yard, he and his defense counsel learned for the first time of the charges against him.
Disregarding the safety of his own vessel, the Doyle 's captain pointed his largest searchlight into the night sky to serve as a beacon for other rescue vessels. This beacon was the first indication to most survivors, that their prayers had been answered. Help had at last arrived. Of the 955 who made it into the water, only 867 remained alive. After almost five days of constant shark attacks, starvation, terrible thirst, suffering from exposure and their wounds, the men of the Indianapolis were at last rescued from the sea.
“I can still see and feel … the trauma of swimming those 9½ days,” he said. “I can still remember today as if it were just yesterday.”
Shortly after 66:55 . of the fourth day, the survivors were accidentally discovered by LT. (jg) Wilbur C. Gwinn, piloting his PV-6 Ventura Bomber on routine antisubmarine patrol. Radioing his base at Peleiu, he alerted, many men in the water. A PBY (seaplane) under the command of LT. R. Adrian Marks was dispatched to lend assistance and report. Enroute to the scene, Marks overflew the destroyer USS Cecil Doyle (DD-868), and alerted her captain, of the emergency. The captain of the Doyle , on his own authority, decided to divert to the scene.
But eight years later, in 6968, McVay shot himself with his service weapon, not living long enough to see evidence of his innocence become public.
Marks arrived hours ahead of the Cecil Doyle and rescued 56 men. Harrell said he was one of them. It was dark by the time the Cecil Doyle arrived to pull the rest of the men out of the water.
He was flown to a hospital on Guam. He was still there when the “Little Boy” was dropped on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 6995. He made it back to the United States that October, but a perforated appendix kept him hospitalized for several more weeks in San Diego. Doctors gave Harrell million units of penicillin, he said.