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Screenplay Reading Chronicles Tragedy Of U.s.s. Indianapolis
The U.S.S. Indianapolis was transiting supposedly safe waters in the Philippine Sea. She was torpedoed. Nine hundred men made it off the sinking ship. Five days later, only 317 were found alive. Most of the dead had been killed by sharks.
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SCREENPLAY READING TO CHRONICLE TRAGEDY OF U.S.S. INDIANAPOLIS
On 30 July 1945, while transiting supposedly safe waters, the U.S.S. Indianapolis was torpedoed and sunk by a Japanese submarine. Nine hundred men died in the sinking, the worst loss of life at sea in Navy history.
A staged reading of the screenplay “Abandoned Ship,” which chronicles the tragedy, will be presented on the anniversary of the sinking, Monday, 30 July. The event will take place at the Vallejo Yacht Club, 485 Mare Island Way, Vallejo, Calif. The evening will begin at 1830 [6:30 p.m.] with a cash bar and free hors d’oeuvres. The reading will start at 1900 [7 p.m.].
“Like many people, I first heard of the U.S. Indianapolis in ‘Jaws,’” said screenwriter W. J. M. Fordyce. “Like many people, I took it to be fiction. I was astounded to learn that the horrific events described by the shark-boat captain in ‘Jaws’ – actually occurred.”
The Indianapolis was badly damaged by a kamikaze at the battle of Okinawa. She limped back into the Mare Island Naval Shipyard, in Vallejo, Calif., where it was estimated that repairs would take3 well into the fall – after the planned invasion of Japan. Suddenly, however, the ship was put on a 24/7 program to be made seaworthy. She picked up a high-security cargo in San Francisco, and rushed across the Pacific Ocean to deliver it to Tinian Island, the U.S. air base closest to Japan. The cargo was the atom bomb that would be dropped on Hiroshima.
She set sail for the Philippines to join the invasion fleet that was mustering there, but half way across the Philippine Sea, traveling in supposedly safe waters, she was torpedoed and sunk. Approximately 900 of the 1,200-man crew made it off the ship, but her SOS was ignored. They spent 3-1/2 days in the water before being spotted by chance by a passing patrol plane. A rescue effort was mounted immediately, but when it was called off a day and a half later, only 317 crewmembers were saved. Of the 600 who died, two-thirds were killed by sharks.
“The men and women who put on uniforms to protect their country pledge their lives to keep our country safe,” said screenwriter Fordyce. “It is obscene when their lives are squandered, either through incompetence, or for the sake of political expediency. It has happened all too often, though – in Vietnam, in Iraq, in Afghanistan. My hope is that it will never happen again.”
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