As I did the previous year, I hope for November to feature World War I and World War II documentaries. This documentary will feature the story of the USS Indianapolis. The ship was torpedoed by the Japanese and only 317 survived after their five-day ordeal. The survivors of that sinking are now finally telling their story. Additionally, families of the dead participate in the documentary. This is a longer documentary and should be broken up into parts for easy viewing in the classroom.
The story documentary kicks off with the USS Indianapolis survivors talking about their enlistments and being assigned to the USS Indianapolis. They were amazed at the size of the ship. These men were teenagers and young adults. Their ship had an admiral on board and it gave them a bit of prestige. Franklin Roosevelt sailed onboard the ship. These sailors traveled from Australia to the Bering scene. They recall breaking ice off the lines because of the cold. They went from the cold to the South Pacific and the heat.
They took part in the battle of Iwu Jima and they tell their stories about facing the battle. After the island was secure, they continued to battle. They then took part in the battle of Okinawa and shot down kamikaze. On kamikaze managed to bomb the Indianapolis and killed nine men, thirty were wounded. After that battle, they went back to the States to get repaired and the ship had a seventeen-degree list the whole way back.
After repairs were done on the USS Indianapolis they went back to war. The survivors recall going back out for one last mission and they were to deliver the parts to the atomic bomb. At the time they did not know what they were taking back and the stories ranged from toilet paper for Douglas MacArthur to whiskey to celebrate the war. The survivors recall their feelings about going back. They were optimistic that the war was going to end and soon. This section featured more of the families of the USS Indianapolis.
After their special delivery, the USS Indianapolis was sent on another mission. They were going to an area where they were told they did not need an escort. Unfortunately, a Japanese sub found the Indianapolis and fired six torpedoes into the ship at midnight. Each survivor recalls where they were when the USS Indianapolis was hit. They recall the explosions and the screams of the men. Many of the men were badly burned, but the damage was done to the ship. No word was announced to abandon ship because the electricity was out. Nobody knew what to do and the ship was sinking from underneath them. It was chaos onboard. The navy men were working to abandon the ship while the Marines on board told everyone to wait until the orders came to abandon the ship.
The USS Indianapolis started rolling and the captain gave orders to abandon ship and these had to be shouted among the men. These were kids that had no idea how to survive in the water. Each survivor recalls how they got off the ship. Many of the survivors recall getting caught in oil once they were in the water. They each recall the last thing they saw from the ship.
However, they did not know what would encounter after they got off the ship. Over 800 men got off the ship and the survivors were spread out because they were coming from different directions. These men were floating in the Pacific. A lot of the men did not know how to swim and many learned that day…
To learn more about what happened to the survivors continue to watch this documentary. The survivors’ tale is harrowing and this would be a documentary to show in a class on World War II.
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