|Subject: I was reading about the recovery of the survivors at sea, and hadn't realized many of the men committed suicide in the water!
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Date Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 12:52:38pm
In reply to:
Whatever became of him?
's message, "The first pilot to spot he survivors in the ocaen was Lieutenant Wilbur Gwinn." on Wednesday, February 13, 04:57:20am
...Navy command did not know of the ship's sinking until survivors were spotted three and a half days later. At 10:25 on 2 August, a PV-1 Ventura flown by Lieutenant Wilbur "Chuck" Gwinn and his copilot, Lieutenant Warren Colwell, spotted the men adrift while on a routine patrol flight. Gwinn immediately dropped a life raft and radio transmitter. All air and surface units capable of rescue operations were dispatched to the scene at once.
First to arrive was an amphibious PBY-5A Catalina patrol plane flown by Lieutenant Commander (USN) Robert Adrian Marks. Marks and his flight crew spotted the survivors and dropped life rafts; one raft was destroyed by the drop while others were too far away from the exhausted crew. Against standing orders not to land in open ocean, Marks took a vote of his crew and decided to land the aircraft in twelve-foot (3.7 m) swells. He was able to maneuver his craft to pick up 56 survivors. …
...Space in the plane was limited, so Marks had men lashed to the wing with parachute cord. His actions rendered the aircraft unflyable. After nightfall, the destroyer escort USS Cecil J. Doyle (DE 368), the first of seven rescue ships, used its search light as a beacon and instilled hope in those still in the water. Cecil J. Doyle and six other ships picked up the remaining survivors. After the rescue, Marks' plane was sunk by Cecil J. Doyle as it was not able to be recovered.
Many of the survivors were injured and all suffered from lack of food and water (leading to dehydration and hypernatremia; some found rations, such as Spam and crackers, amongst the debris), exposure to the elements (dehydration from the hot sun during the day and hypothermia at night, as well as severe desquamation due to continued exposure to salt water and bunker oil), and shark attacks, while some killed themselves or other survivors in various states of delirium and hallucinations. Two of the rescued survivors, Robert Lee Shipman and Frederick Harrison, died in August 1945.
"Ocean of Fear", a 2007 episode of the Discovery Channel TV documentary series Shark Week, states that the sinking of Indianapolis resulted in the most shark attacks on humans in history, and attributes the attacks to the oceanic whitetip shark species. Tiger sharks might have also killed some sailors. The same show attributed most of the deaths on Indianapolis to exposure, salt poisoning, and thirst, with the dead being dragged off by sharks. …