Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Work on the Indianapolis

Late in March through early April 1942, still at Pearl Harbor, my dad Frank Dolan, was temporarily transferred to the heavy cruiser, USS Indianapolis, for repairs. He didn’t remember the specific work he completed as the Indianapolis was one of so many ships requiring repairs following the Pearl Harbor attack and subsequent naval battles in the Pacific. On this job, he was helping with temporary patching for a trip stateside for an overhaul.

Later in the war, Indianapolis was ordered on a secret mission to deliver to Tinian, in the Northern Marianas, the component parts for the “Little Boy” atomic bomb to be dropped on Hiroshima. On her way to Leyte, Indianapolis was torpedoed by an enemy sub and sank in what became the greatest single loss of life at sea in the history of the U.S. Navy. About 300 of the 1,196 men on board died in the attack. The rest of the crew of nearly 900 men, floated in the water without lifeboats rescued 5 days later.  Only 321 crewmen came out of the water alive, and 317 ultimately lived. They suffered from lack of food and water, exposure to the elements, and horrifying shark attacks.

Sources: Frank L. Dolan's Service Records, March 1942; USS Indianapolis Muster Roll, March 1942

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