Today marks the 70th anniversary of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis. After delivering the parts that would make up “Little Boy”, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, the Indianapolis was torpedoed and sunk in 12 minutes.
Think about that for a minute: 12 minutes. Imagine an apartment building sinking in 12 minutes and go ahead, it’s ok to feel more than a little claustrophobic and panicked.
And then there were the sharks.
900 men went in to the waters of the South Pacific. Three and a half days later they numbered just 317.
Captain Charles McVay III was court-martialed the for the loss of the Indianapolis. He was returned to active duty by Fleet Admiral Nimitz, but retired in 1949. Beyond the loss in itself of the Indianapolis and his men, the loss of his reputation and the blame he shouldered were the end of his career, and in 1968 he committed suicide.
Fast forward to 1997 and a 12 year old boy who has seen Jaws and wondered about Robert Shaw’s characters’ speech. The sinking of the Indianapolis became Hunter Scott’s National History Day project – and for it he interviewed survivors and went through documents related to the case (nearly 800, as it so happens). All of his research came to one point, that Captain McVay was innocent of the blame of the loss of the Indianapolis, and Scott appeared before the U.S. Congress to argue the point.
In 2000 President Clinton signed a congressional resolution formally exonerating McVay.
A 12 year old boy did that. A 12 year boy discovered the truth and restored the reputation of a man who was ruined by the accusations levelled against him. I was impressed when I first heard this story, by Hunter Scott, but now, as a parent I am equally as impressed by his parents, because they did something right. They raised a kid would fight for the truth and fight to clear a man’s reputation.
Isn’t that what we all want as parents? To raise that kind of a kid?
Nicely done Scott parents.