INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Two of the seven remaining survivors of the USS Indianapolis sinking in 1945 died last week, according to the group’s Facebook page.
Edgar Harrell died Saturday and James W. Smith died Wednesday. The men were age 96.
The USS Indianapolis heavy cruiser in a top-secret mission during World War II delivered to the island of Tinian some of the parts for the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. While in route to the Philippines after delivering the parts, the cruiser was torpedoed in the early-morning hours of July 30, 1945, by the Imperial Japanese navy submarine I-58 and sank in 12 minutes. The ship carried nearly 1,200 men; only 316 survived.
Harrell was the last surviving Marine. The Facebook page’s tribute to Harrell said, “During his time aboard ship, he helped guard components of the atomic bomb. After the torpedoing, he was a hero amongst his shipmates.”
Smith had served the longest aboard the ship, beginning in December 1943. The Facebook page’s tribute to Smith said, “During weekly zoom calls, James would regale the group with tales of wartime as a young sailor… tales filled with mischief, adventure, fear, heroism, and brotherhood… and of course girls and a few stashed bottles of moonshine that got him into trouble.”
The USS Indianapolis National Memorial sits on the north end of the Canal Walk, between Senate Avenue and Walnut Street, in downtown Indianapolis. The story of the sinking as well as a list of the ship’s company and one passenger are etched on the gray and black memorial.