The Navy’s greatest sea disaster occurred on July 30, 1945, when the USS Indianapolis was hit by two torpedoes and went down in twelve minutes. More than 850 men lost their lives as the US fought to end World War II in the Pacific.
Two of the 321 survivors were Private First Class Giles McCoy from St. Louis, Missouri, and the ship’s captain, Charles Butler McVay, III. McVay was court-martialed even though the evidence showed that it was the Navy who put the ship in harm’s way, not McVay. It was through the tireless efforts of McCoy, with help from Pensacola sixth grader Hunter Scott, that finally, after 50 years, Captain McVay was cleared of all charges regarding the loss of the USS Indianapolis.
McCoy was also responsible for organizing the first Survivors reunion in 1960 and served as chairman of the USS Indianapolis Survivors Organization for many years.
Although Captain McVay took his own life in 1968 and Dr. McCoy died in 2009, the story of the USS Indianapolis continues. After 72 years, the USS Indianapolis was found by a civilian search team at 18,000 feet in the Philippine Sea on August 18, 2017. The wreckage belongs to the U.S. Navy and there are no places to move it.
“On December 20, 2018, President Donald J. Trump signed the USS Indianapolis Congressional Gold Medal Act into law. The law calls for the award of a Congressional Gold Medal collectively — to the crew of the USS Indianapolis, in recognition of their perseverance, dedication and uncommon bravery while in the service of a nation engaged in a global struggle for freedom.” (David J. Ryder, Director, US Mint)
The next chapter: The Commissioning of the new USS Indianapolis (LCS 17). The commissioning ceremony is scheduled to take place on Oct. 26. The event is open to the public, but tickets to attend are required and have already been allotted.
Elizabeth Davis was born and raised in Cooper County, Missouri, and has written HISTORICALLY YOURS for the Boonville Daily News since April 2008, She has covered the War Between the States, U.S. history, and Cooper County history. In celebration of Missouri’s upcoming Bicentennial, she has syndicated her column statewide and encourages readers all over the Show Me State to submit topic suggestions for future columns to HistoricallyYours.email@example.com.