Another Momentous Day in the US Navy

Today is a momentous day in the US Navy.   It was on this day, August 3, 1945, that the last of the survivors of the sinking of the USS INDIANAPOLIS (CA 35), were pulled from the waters of the Pacific Ocean.  They had floated there since the sinking of their ship, four days before on July 30, 1945, by a Japanese submarine.

The INDIANAPOLIS had been on a secret mission to deliver the parts for Little Boy, the first atomic bomb, to Tinian Island in the Pacific Ocean.  The bomb would be dropped on August 6, 1945, on Hiroshima, Japan, leading to the unconditional surrender of the Japanese and the end of World War II.

After delivering the bomb parts, the ship departed for Guam and then on to Leyte Gulf in the Philippines, but was sunk en route.  Of the 1,200 Sailors aboard the INDIANAPOLIS, about 900 survived the initial torpedoes and went into the water.  Of those 900 men only 316 Sailors would survive the next four days, floating in the shark-infested waters of the Pacific before being rescued.

Here is Texas historian and author Tara Ross’ account of the rescue of these brave men as the last survivors are pulled from the water at dusk on August 3, 1945.  May they all Rest In Peace.

*************

By Tara Ross (c)

On this day in 1945, the last survivors of the USS Indianapolis are pulled from the Pacific Ocean. They’d been there since a Japanese submarine had torpedoed and sunk Indianapolis on July 30.

They had just finished delivering parts for the Little Boy atomic bomb to American bombers! Now, because of communication gaffes, their ship was missing, but no one knew it. (See July 29 history post.)

Survivors were waiting for a rescue that was not coming.

The men were floating in small groups, strewn out across the last miles of Indianapolis’s journey. Survivors were covered in oil. Some were wounded. The Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Haynes, tried to care for his boys as best he could, but he knew some would not make it. Some hadn’t even survived the initial disaster.

As dead men were found in the water, Haynes later reported, “[w]e would then laboriously take off their life jacket and give it to men who didn’t have jackets. In the beginning I took off their dogtags, said The Lord’s Prayer, and let them go. Eventually, I got such an armful of dogtags I couldn’t hold them any longer. Even today, when I try to say The Lord’s Prayer or hear it, I simply lose it.”

Shark attacks were another problem. “They were continually there, mostly feeding off the dead bodies,” survivor Loel Cox later reported. But then the sharks began attacking men who were still alive. “We were losing three or four each night and day,” Cox said. “You were constantly in fear because you’d see ‘em all the time. Every few minutes you’d see their fins—a dozen to two dozen fins in the water.”

As the days wore on, the men became dehydrated. Some of them began to hallucinate. “[T]hey were goin bezerk,” survivor Woody Eugene James later testified. “They’d tell you big stories about the Indianapolis is not sunk, its’ just right there under the surface. I was just down there and had a drink of water . . . .” At other times, the hallucinations caused hysteria and fighting. Haynes spoke of men who would think “[t]here’s a Jap here and he’s trying to kill me.’ And then everybody started to fight. They were totally out of their minds.”

When help finally arrived, it was completely by chance.

Lt. Chuck Gwinn happened to be patrolling the area from the air, looking for Japanese submarines. He saw an oil slick! He thought perhaps it was a disabled Japanese submarine, so he prepared for a bombing run. As he got closer, he realized that there were people in the water. They needed help.

He still didn’t know if these people were friend or foe, but he began dropping life vests out of his plane. He radioed a message back to his base. It was then 11:25 a.m. on August 2.

The ordeal was far from over. Official rescue efforts were beginning, but it was a slow process.

Fortunately, a quick-thinking pilot with access to an amphibious plane heard one of Gwinn’s radio messages. Acting on his own initiative, Lt. Adrian Marks took off for Gwinn’s location. When he and his crew arrived hours later, he could see sharks circling in the water. The crew watched as multiple men were attacked, right in front of their eyes. They had to act!

Marks decided to act against standing orders. He would attempt a dangerous open sea landing. He knew that his plane could capsize, but he had to try.

Thankfully, he made it, and his crew began pulling survivors out of the water. They even tied survivors to the plane’s wings so they could get more people aboard! By nightfall, Marks had rescued 56 men from the water.

The first rescue ship arrived hours later, just before midnight.

The last men wouldn’t be found and pulled from the water until dusk on August 3. These men had been in the water for 112 hours, and they’d drifted more than 120 miles from Indianapolis’s original location.

The Little Boy bomb would be dropped on Hiroshima only 3 days later. Most of the heroes aboard Indianapolis would never know that they helped bring an end to World War II.

————-
If you enjoy these history posts, please know that it is important to LIKE, SHARE & COMMENT. This site’s algorithm will weed these posts out of your newsfeed if you do not interact with them. (I don’t make the rules! Just following them.) 😉

Gentle reminder: History posts are copyright © 2013-2018 by Tara Ross. I appreciate it when you use the Facebook “share” feature instead of cutting/pasting.

Permalink: http://www.taraross.com/2018/08/tdih-uss-indianapolis-rescue

#TDIH #OTD #AmericanHistory #USHistory #liberty #freedom#ShareTheHistory

*************

Editor’s Note:  I was privileged to know one of these survivors: the late LT (Junior Grade) Charles McKissick.  Mr. McKissick was a retired optician, living in McKinney, Texas, when I met him there in 1991.  Every year, he would travel to Indinapolis, IN, to attend the USS Indianapolis Survivors Reunion there.  He was a fascinating man who collected USS Indianapolis memorabilia and talked of that tragedy as if it was yesterday.  May he and his other Shipmates Rest In Peace.  

 

 

Test

This is a test of the Follow This Blog function.

If you receive a notification of this post, please email me at sonnyauld@gmail.com

Thank you.

Sonny Auld

 

Happy Independence Day, 2018

July 4th Paris Tower

This is a photo of our own Eiffel Tower in Paris, Texas.  It is 65 feet high and as you can see, it has its own Texas flavor with a red cowboy hat atop it.

The Tower is lit at night with a variegated, changing set of lights inside the Tower.  It symbolizes our dedication as a Sister City to Paris, France.  As we like to say here, “We are the ‘second-largest’ Paris in the world.”

Happy United States Independence Day, 2018.

 

Rags, the World War I War Dog

By Tara Ross

On or around this day in 1916, a mixed-breed terrier is born. The little dog would go on to become an American war hero—and the U.S. 1st Infantry Division’s mascot during World War I.

“Rags” might never have been found but for Private Jimmy Donovan. The young soldier had been asked to march in Paris’s 1918 Bastille Day parade. At the time, Rags was just a nameless and homeless little dog, roaming the streets of Paris.

Several stories are told about how Donovan and Rags found each other.

Perhaps Donovan was stumbling out of a Montemartre café after a post-parade celebration. He literally stumbled upon the dog, thinking it was a pile of rags. He was late for his curfew and used the dog as an excuse. No, of course he wasn’t going AWOL or breaking the rules! He was simply looking for the dog, the division’s mascot.

Another version of the story has Rags finding Donovan and following him back to base. Either way, dog and man found each other. And they developed a bond.

Early on, Donovan concluded that battlefields were not appropriate for a little homeless mutt. He tried to continue on without Rags, leaving him in a safer location, but Rags would have none of it. He followed Donovan and basically showed up on his doorstep.

“His choice seems to have been to be with Donovan wherever he was,” one of Rags’s biographers concludes, “regardless of the dangers or even of what Donovan would have preferred . . . .”

Rags went on to serve in multiple conflicts. Donovan taught him to run messages through gunfire—and he even taught Rags to salute! Rags figured out how to locate broken communication lines, and he learned to alert soldiers to incoming shells. He led medics to wounded soldiers.

A story is told that Rags once ended up in a surveillance balloon with reconnaissance soldiers. A German fighter plane arrived on the scene, forcing the soldiers to bail out. Reportedly, the German pilot saw that one of the parachuting men was clutching a barking dog. The German grinned, shook his head, and flew away without doing any further harm to the Americans.

Rags is best known for his final mission: He successfully delivered one last message, even as explosions tore up the earth around him. His gas mask was ripped off. He was wounded by shrapnel and blinded in one eye. Donovan was wounded, too. An order was given to treat the much-loved Rags just like a soldier, and man and dog were evacuated, together. Rags went everywhere that Donovan went—until it came time to board a ship headed home.

The commanding officer of that vessel did not want a dog on his ship! He ordered Rags left behind. Fortunately, another officer saw what was happening. He brought Rags aboard, hidden in his luggage.

Many members of the 1st Division worked together in those days, ensuring Rags’s safe (and secret) transport across the Atlantic. Against all odds, Rags and Donovan found themselves together again at a hospital in Illinois. Unfortunately, Donovan never recovered from his injuries. He passed away, leaving Rags behind.

Rags didn’t eat for a week. But the story doesn’t end there.

Major Raymond W. Hardenbergh and his family would adopt the war-wounded terrier. The story of Rags got out. He was given awards, and he marched in parades. A book was written about him. People left flags on his grave when he died.

“Throughout his life,” one of his biographers concludes, “Rags had proved of what durable stuff one little dog is made.”

********************************

Editor’s Note:

The first photo above shows Rags with US Army Sergeant George E. Hickman at Fort Hamilton in the 1920s.

The adjoining photos show Rags’ grave in Aspen Hill Pet Cemetery, Silver Spring, MD, and is compliments of Steven Michael.  

The End of the Battle of Okinawa

Raising_the_flag_on_Okinawa

On this day in history, the American flag was finally raised over the island of Okinawa, June 22, 1945, following one of the bloodiest battles of World War II.

Here is historian Tara Ross’ account of the end of the Battle of Okinawa.

by Tara Ross

On this day in 1945, Americans raise a flag over the Japanese island of Okinawa. The nearly three-month battle to capture the island was finally over. The Battle of Okinawa would prove to be one of the bloodiest in the Pacific during World War II.

The war in the Pacific had been a grueling one. Americans employed a strategy of “island-hopping,” systematically taking Japanese islands, one at a time. Okinawa was the last and toughest of these. However, once it was captured, Allied forces would have a base of operations from which to attack mainland Japan.

The attack began on April 1 when more than 60,000 Marines and soldiers landed on one of Okinawa’s beaches. The American landing was barely contested, but American forces surely knew what that easy landing meant: The Japanese were hunkered down elsewhere, prepared to fight.

And that is exactly what happened for the better part of three months. The battle that followed was brutal, with hundreds of thousands of combatants facing off against each other. In the end, Americans lost 12,520 men (killed or missing), and more than 36,000 wounded. By contrast, about 110,000 Japanese died, and many civilians got caught in the crossfire. The Japanese culture rejected the idea of surrender. Thus, ritual suicide and kamikaze attacks were not at all uncommon during this period. Sometimes, the Japanese soldiers even killed their own citizens or encouraged civilians to commit suicide with the soldiers.

Indeed, as organized resistance finally came to an end on June 21, the Japanese commander, Mitsuru Ushijima, was already preparing for his own suicide. He wrote his last reports to his superiors, and he directly ordered one officer NOT to commit suicide! “If you die there will be no one left who knows the truth about the battle of Okinawa,” he told Major Yahara. “Bear the temporary shame but endure it. This is an order of your Army commander.”

Early on June 22, Ushijima committed ritual suicide, as did his second-in-command, General Isamu Cho.

Later that same morning, Americans raised the United States flag over Okinawa as a band played “The Star Spangled Banner.”

In the end, Americans never used Okinawa as a base from which to attack mainland Japan. The battle to capture the island had been so bloody and horrific that Harry S. Truman was pushed toward his decision to drop atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. If the toll at Okinawa had been high, the price of invading mainland Japan would surely be even higher.

Those bombings, of course, prompted the Japanese emperor to announce his intent to surrender in August 1945. That surrender became official on September 2.

At that point, it had been nearly 4 years since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. But the war was finally over.

Medal of Honor Recipient LT M. P. Murphy

 

Today is May 7, 2018.  Medal of Honor recipient Navy SEAL LT Michael P. Murphy would have been 42 years old today.

Below is the essay on today’s “Medal of Honor Monday” post from historian Tara Ross and her history Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/TaraRoss.1787/

*****************

by Tara Ross

On this day in 1976, a future Medal of Honor recipient is born. U.S. Navy SEAL Lt. Michael P. Murphy would become the first sailor to receive the Medal since the Vietnam War.

It’s been said that Murphy’s “death was cut from the same cloth as his life.” Indeed, the young Lieutenant had long been known as the “Protector” among his family and friends. He was that guy at school—and in life—who stood up to bullies. No one would be battered or harassed in his presence. “That was Michael’s way,” his father would conclude.

It was a way that continued, even after college.

Murphy could have chosen an easier path. He’d graduated from Penn State in 1998 and could have gone to law school. He could have married his college girlfriend and had a family. But that wasn’t “Michael’s way.” Instead, he chose to serve. He became a Navy SEAL.

Which is how he found himself leading a four-man Navy SEAL team in Afghanistan on June 28, 2005. Early in that reconnaissance mission, the SEALs accidentally stumbled upon three goat herders. Those goat herders apparently reported the presence of the SEALs to the Taliban.

Murphy’s team assumed a defensive position on a mountain, but an approximate 80 to 100 Taliban fighters soon found them and attacked. A tremendous firefight ensued. Our SEALs kept taking out the enemy—by the dozens—but still reinforcements just kept coming.

The SEALs fell back repeatedly, sliding and falling down the mountain. They were beat up and bruised. Bones were broken. Three of the four, including Murphy, had been shot. Yet they kept fighting.

“It was like the world was blowing up around us,” one SEAL, Marcus Luttrell, described, “with the flying rock splinters, some of them pretty large, clattering off the cliff walls; the ricocheting bullets; the swirling dust cloud enveloping the shrapnel and covering us, choking us, obscuring everything.”

Our SEALs were cornered. By then, one had been killed, but three remained standing. Murphy knew what he had to do. He fished a mobile phone out of his pocket. He walked out into a clearing to get a signal, and he placed a call.

Luttrell was stunned.

“I knew what Mikey had done,” he later wrote. “He’d understood we had only one realistic chance, and that was to call in help. He also knew there was only one place from which he could possibly make that cell phone work: out in the open, away from the cliff walls. Knowing the risk, understanding the danger, in the full knowledge the phone call could cost him his life, Lieutenant Michael Patrick Murphy, son of Maureen, fiancé of the beautiful Heather, walked out into the firestorm.”

Murphy’s call went through. But as he was talking, he was hit in the back. The shock of it caused him to drop the phone. But he picked it back up and finished the call. “Roger that, sir. Thank you,” he was heard to say before he hung up.

Murphy resumed fighting, but he wouldn’t live much longer. “The Protector” had put his life on the line for his friends—and then he’d given that life.

“[H]is grace and upbringing never deserted him,” President George W. Bush would later say as he presented the Medal to Murphy’s family. “Though severely wounded, he said ‘thank you’ before hanging up, and returned to the fight—before losing his life. . . . Our nation is blessed to have volunteers like Michael who risk their lives for our freedom.”

P.S. Yes, there was (only) one survivor: Luttrell. But his story is one for another day.

————-
If you enjoy these history posts, please know that it is important to LIKE, SHARE & COMMENT. This site’s algorithm will weed these posts out of your newsfeed if you do not interact with them. (I don’t make the rules! Just following them.) 😉

Gentle reminder: History posts are copyright © 2013-2018 by Tara Ross. I appreciate it when you use the Facebook “share” feature instead of cutting/pasting.

Permalink: http://www.taraross.com/…/this-day-in-history-michael-murph…

#TDIH #OTD #AmericanHistory #USHistory #liberty #freedom #ShareTheHistory

*******************

The USS MICHAEL MURPHY, DDG 112, was christened on this date (again, his birthday) on May 7, 2012, by the ship’s sponsor, his mother, Maureen Murphy. The picture above is of the ship as it sails near Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, HI, in 2013. The USS MICHAEL MURPHY is the 62nd ship in the line of Arleigh Burke-class destroyers.

May she serve long and proud and may LT Michael Murphy Rest In Peace.

We who remain behind salute you, Sir!

A Momentous Weekend

This has been a momentous weekend.

First, radio broadcasting pioneer Art Bell, died at age 72 on Friday, April 13, 2018.  Bell was the premier broadcaster of the paranormal.  His late-night radio program, Coast to Coast AM, covered the US on more than 600 radio stations for decades.  On his program, he interviewed common people from the full spectrum of unusual subjects, from UFOs to ghosts, to unsolved disappearances.   In 2013, he broadcast on Sirius XM satellite radio for a short time, following his retirement on July 1, 2007.  Repeats of his Coast to Coast AM broadcasts can still be heard on the Internet in the Somewhere In Time shows.

Sunday, April 15, 2018, marks the 153rd anniversary of the death of the 16th President of the United States, President Abraham Lincoln.  President Lincoln was assassinated at Ford’s Theater in Washington, DC, the previous evening, while he and Mrs. Lincoln and guests watched a performance of the comedy, Our American Cousin.  His assassin was a Southern sympathizer, John Wilkes Booth, who shot the President in the back of the head with a small Derringer pistol.  Following the fatal shot, Lincoln was carried across the street to a boarding house, where he died at 7:22 a.m. Saturday, April 15, 1865.   Booth died in a barn about two weeks later as he was surrounded by Union troops.

The British luxury ocean liner, RMS Titantic, sank in early morning hours of April 15, 1912, 106 years ago today, after colliding with an iceberg on its maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to New York City, New York.  More than 1,500 men, women, and children of the 2,224 passengers and crew aboard the liner died in the tragedy.  Titanic struck an iceberg at about 11:40 p.m. the night before, four days after leaving Southampton on April 10, 1912.  The luxury ship went to the bottom of the Atlantic early the next morning on April 15.  Titanic was the largest ocean liner of its kind when launched, and was thought to be “unsinkable.”  One of those lost in the disaster was Thomas Andrews, the architect of the ship.

Today, April 15, 2018, is the 14th birthday of my grandson, Logan Auld.  Logan is a home-schooled bright young man with polite manners and a sweet disposition.  He is a joy to be around and I love and miss him, his mom and dad, his brothers and sisters, his cousins, and his uncles and aunts very much.  He makes me very proud to be his Granddaddy.

 

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: