INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Nearly a week has passed since a research team headed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen found the wrecked naval battleship USS Indianapolis at the bottom of the Philippine Sea. Now that families and survivors have had a chance to let the news sink in, many are still very emotional.
In Indianapolis, the USS Indianapolis memorial is a main stop for the annual reunion, and many of the names engraved on the memorial never came home. For those families, they say the discovery is more than they could have hoped.
Just a few weeks ago, family and friends and even some survivors from the USS Indianapolis met for their 72nd reunion. One of those members is Michael William Emery. His uncle and namesake was William Friend Emery.
As the story goes, William was sleeping on top of the ship’s deck because it was a hot night down below, when the torpedo hit the USS Indianapolis. Amongst the artifacts Michael has collected of his uncle is a letter from Captain Charles McVay about William’s bravery the night the ship sunk and a his uncles Purple Heart.
For the past few years the USS Indianapolis survivors organization has included many “lost at sea” family members in their activities. Michael says when the news came over the weekend everyone, no matter what the connection, was emotional.
“I also received a voicemail from a survivor’s son and he was crying in his voicemail, talking about lost at sea families and had no idea what he was talking about,” said Emery. “Then I checked on social media and saw the pictures and dropped my phone and was in total shock and little later on called my mom and told her the news and broke down crying.”
Michael says he is hoping to thank billionaire Paul Allen, whose research team headed the voyage to find the Indianapolis.
That night was the worst naval disaster in the history of the navy. 1,196 men were on board the ship that night, about 900 men went into the shark-infested waters. Only 317 were rescued. Michael told 24-Hour News 8 they are inviting Paul Allen to next year’s reunion, which is set for July of next year. Of those rescued, only 19 survivors are alive today