Skip to comments.USS Indianapolis Discovery Spurs Relief, Concern from Survivors and Families
Posted on 08/22/2017 8:58:47 AM PDT by Twotone
As news spread over the weekend about the discovery of USS Indianapolis (CA-35), the World War II cruiser lost in the wars waning days, emotions of anyone associated with the ship ranged from joy, to relief, to consternation.
Closure was brought to the few remaining survivors, and the families of crew members who survived or perished when the ship was torpedoed after completing its secret mission delivering to the Pacific island of Tinian the components of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Their friends and loved ones wouldnt be recovered, but at least they had a sense of where their final resting place was located.
(Excerpt) Read more at news.usni.org ...
The only US court marshal that included a prosecution witness (the captain of the sub that fired the torpedo!) from the enemy force that sunk the ship.
How FUBAR is that?
Psst ... that would be “court-martial”.
why was there a court-martial on this?
I think some of this “closure” stuff is over-rated. Plus it won’t mean much for the family of the Captain McVay.
Well .... it was not a “US court marshal”. The term is “courts martial”.
And it was very bizarre the way that the sub commander asserted that it was impossible that he would have missed his target. My understanding is that the charge/s were based on the fact that the commander of the Indianapolis did not zig-zag. Never mind that it was a full moon, and no clouds.
So the tribunal scorched this Navy skipper who had already survived the hell of the attack and the further hell of seeing so many of his men being killed and maimed.
While I understand the importance of following the rules, it seems that doing the zig-zag was useless in this situation and the skipper knew it. Another example of some badges and braids sitting behind a desk second-guessing this situation.
“The only US court marshal that included a prosecution witness (the captain of the sub that fired the torpedo!) from the enemy force that sunk the ship.
How FUBAR is that?”
The Japanese commander defended him. He said that he happened to be at the right place at the right time and there was nothing the American could have done to save the ship.
The US Navy was trying to establish whether Capt. McVeigh was zig-zagging as per standing order. The Japanese submarine skipper was brought in to establish that he wasn’t. The defense on cross-examination asked Capt. Hashimoto, “would it have made a difference?” His answer was, “No.”
Apologize. It was “McVay”. Should have checked.
Personal story, regarding one of the survivors still living today. FC3 Robert M. Witzig was from the same small hamlet in Grant County, Wisconsin, as myself, and three of his brothers also went off to war. The eldest, Joseph, was not taken because it was the policy of the military services that the oldest son in a farming family be exempt from military service, to help with the war effort by continuing the farming operation, one of the factors that contributed to the ability of the US to keep its front-line forces well supplied with ample food even in the midst of battle. Brother Charles was a corpsman, one of the battlefield medics, brother Ned was a tank operator, and brother Paul was infantry. Of the four, Charles was probably the least scarred by the experience. Ned died about the time of the Battle of the Bulge, when the tank he was in was blown up. Paul came back with a serious case of PTSD, and had a terrible time adjusting to civilian life. Robert had been married when he left for the Navy, but life for him was not settled by any means. He became a blacksmith, working at rebuilding farm machinery and eventually turning the business into a machine shop. He is still living, his business, R.M. Witzig & Son Machine and Welding, north of Fennimore, Wisconsin on Highway 61. None of the Witzig sons spoke very much about their experiences, but what little I was able to glean about Robert, is that the shark attacks and the terrible toll of the thirst made him appreciate life to the keenest.
To one of the greatest generation - it was a humbling experience to even have known you.
The Japanese sub captain said it would have made no difference if they were zig-zagging or not, as I recall the defense contended just that.
I had a chance to speak with the ship’s doctor for several hours many years ago.
It was a sobering experience.
She was a handsome vessel, but that picture makes her appear ominous and haunted.
Kudos to Paul Allen for funding this.
I’ve always thought it a pity that those who experienced war did not talk more about what they went through. Maybe people would try harder to avoid it, if everyone realized the horror of it in advance.
My understanding is that because it was a top secret mission, the boat. Didn’t have the usual protection of other ships. When disaster struck, the top brass needed to cover their asses so the captain became their scapegoat. No fingers were pointed at the top brass to answer why the ship wasn’t protected and suffered such a huge loss of life.
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