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67 years after USS Indianapolis sank, survivors still reunite

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U.S. Navy

The USS Indianapolis was top of the line technology when World War II started, and as such, the official ship used by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

When it was transferred for use in the war, it’s most notable voyage was the one transporting the atomic bomb to be assembled by the U.S. military, before being dropped on Japan.  But shortly after the delivery was made, the USS Indianapolis was struck by the Japanese Navy.

Of the nearly 1,200 men on board, 900 survived the attack, though most perished in the waters due to exposure, dehydration and shark attacks.  Ultimately about 300 men survived, including Indianapolis man Jimmy O’Donnell, who is now 92 years old.  He and 18 of his 45 fellow survivors are meeting for their annual reunion downtown this weekend.

O’Donnell says he doesn’t want people taking for granted the sacrifices of him and his crew.

“They don’t know that what they have, the price that was paid.  If we hadn’t taken that bomb over, and Japan hadn’t surrendered, and they had conquered America, what would we have today?”

He says the terror of that sinking serves as one reminder for him that he wants others to bear in mind.

“Never give up, because it’s just like out there in the water.  There was a lot of guys who gave up and one thing you want to do, whatever you’re trying to do, never give up, or you’ll never make it.”

The city is home to a large exhibit detailing the history of and artifacts from the famous ship at the Indiana War Memorial.  A memorial along the canal downtown was also erected in 1995.