FF61 - USS Indianapolis

Intro by John Roderick, reading a quote from Jaws

Japanese submarine slammed two torpedoes into her side, chief. We was coming back from the island of Tinian to Leyte. We had just delivered the bomb. The Hiroshima bomb. 1100 men went into the water. Vessel went down in 12 minutes.

Didn’t see the first shark for about a half-hour. Tiger. 13-footer. You know how you know that in the water, Chief? You can tell by looking from the dorsal to the tail. What we didn’t know, was that our bomb mission was so secret, no distress signal had been sent. They didn’t even list us overdue for a week. Very first light, Chief, sharks come cruising by, so we formed ourselves into tight groups. It was sorta like you see in the calendars, you know the infantry squares in the old calendars like the Battle of Waterloo and the idea was the shark come to the nearest man, that man he starts pounding and hollering and sometimes that shark he go away… but sometimes he wouldn’t go away.

Sometimes that shark looks right at you. Right into your eyes. And the thing about a shark is he’s got lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll’s eyes. When he comes at you, he doesn’t even seem to be living until he bites you, and those black eyes roll over white and then… ah then you hear that terrible high-pitched screaming. The ocean turns red, and despite all your pounding and your hollering those sharks come in and… they rip you to pieces.

You know by the end of that first dawn, lost a hundred men. I don’t know how many sharks there were, maybe a thousand. I do know how many men, they averaged six an hour. Thursday morning, Chief, I bumped into a friend of mine, Herbie Robinson from Cleveland. Baseball player. Boson’s mate. I thought he was asleep. I reached over to wake him up. He bobbed up, down in the water, he was like a kinda top. Upended. Well, he’d been bitten in half below the waist.

At noon on the fifth day, a Lockheed Ventura swung in low and he spotted us, a young pilot, lot younger than Mr. Hooper here, anyway he spotted us and a few hours later a big old fat PBY come down and started to pick us up. You know that was the time I was most frightened. Waiting for my turn. I’ll never put on a lifejacket again. So, 1100 men went into the water, 316 men come out, the sharks took the rest. June the 29th, 1945.

Anyway, we delivered the bomb.

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