Saturday, October 26, 2013

Book Review: In Harms Way: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors

This book was written in 2001 and published by Henry and Holt.  This book tells the story of the ship which transported the atomic bomb Mariana Island where the Enola Gay was waiting for the atomic attack on Horoshima.  The bomb was delivered successfully, but it was the secrecy around their mission that lead to tragedy on their return trip.  The USS Indianapolis was hit by torpedo fire from a Japanese submarine and sunk.  It would take five days for them to be rescued.  1200 men were on the ship, 300 died with the initial attack, 900 men would enter the water.  Of these 900, a few more than 300  would be rescued.  These men would be subject to lack of water, shark attack, hypothermia and any number of methods of dying.
This book is made more interesting by the results after the rescue.  Never before had a Captain been court-martialed as a result of his ship being sunk.  Captain Charles McVay III was court-martialed for failing to zig-zag which may have protected the ship.  However the Japanese captain, as well as a submarine expert indicated this would not have med any difference.  There was a bit of embarassment because of the amount of time between sinking and rescue.  McVay was blamed, but distress message was sent.  There late arrival was not reported, and several reprimands were issued, which were later with drawn.  McVay would eventually end his life by suicide.

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