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Still Another Heroic Airplane Pilot?

+2 votes
Apr 22 in News & Informations ⌨ by Virginia (7,565 points)
edited Apr 22 by Virginia

Other Tink just posted about the heroic Southwest Airlines pilot with nerves of steel who brought her badly damaged plane down safely, and then I remembered the U.S.S. Indianapolis. It was the end of WWII, and the ship was chugging home from Japan after delivering some supplies for the atomic bomb.

Got spotted by an intrepid Japanese submarine captain, who torpedoed and sank the Indianapolis, leaving 370 crewmen in shark-infested waters. No one even knew the Indianapolis was in trouble until four days later, when a reconnaissance plane saw the wreck and the sharks. They sent out a pontoon plane, but then ordered the pilot not to land because the water was too stormy and choppy.

But the pontoon pilot disobeyed his orders, landed his plane on the ocean anyway. The plane got too badly damaged to take off again, but the pilot pulled people into his plane and then strung parachutes from the wings somehow, so more people could get away from the sharks. Then everybody just sat there until they could send more help, and the pilot saved the lives of about 100 crewmen.

* * *

Much later, someone found that story and began going around to schools and communities to tell the story of the U.S.S. Indianapolis, and just last week they came to Chehalis, WA, about twenty miles from where I live. They brought along one of the few remaining survivors, who is now 93 years old.

I just sat there and cried.

2 Answers

TheOtherTink Apr 22

I'm crying right now.  Rest in peace and honor, Lieutenant Marks.  :'(

"Adrian Marks, a Navy pilot who rescued 56 sailors struggling in the shark-filled Philippine Sea after the cruiser Indianapolis was sunk by Japanese torpedoes in July 1945, died on March 7 at Clinton County Hospital in his hometown of Frankfort, Ind. He was 81.

Lieutenant Marks was flying a seaplane designed for landings only in calm water. He had been ordered never to touch down on the high seas. But on what he would remember as ''a sun-swept afternoon of horror,'' he disregarded his orders, risking his life and the lives of his eight crewmen, and began a dramatic mass rescue following the worst disaster at sea in American naval history. The attack took almost 900 lives.

Lieutenant Marks later had the Air Medal pinned on him by Adm. Chester W. Nimitz, the commander in chief of the Pacific Fleet."

I calculated the numbers, Tink, and the pontoon pilot would have been around 28 years old then...

Rooster Apr 23

Yes, he was a heroic pilot. No doubt about that in my mind at all. A great man of whom not many are left.

There are still questions about the Indianapolis today. Like why did the Captain not have the ship on a zig zag pattern as all ships did at the time? From what I read? He didn't "think" there would be any enemy activity on his trip from Tinian after taking the atomic bomb there. One I-Boat was all it took. The Captain later took his own life as he couldn't bear the thoughts of all the deaths he was accused of by the Navy Board. He was the only Navy Captain court martialed during the war and the survivors are still trying to exonerate him all these years later.

But the Navy is at fault also for not keeping track of his ship or they would have been rescued much sooner. It had been forgotten for days after it's delivery.

They recently found the "Indy" in it's deep water grave.


Virginia Rooster Apr 23

Rooster, I did not know all that...just heard of the Indianapolis a few days ago! I am glad the survivors thought so much of the captain and are trying to exonerate him.

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