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Never give up! These three words embody the spirit of surviving sailors and marines who served aboard the cruiser USS Indianapolis when she was torpedoed by the crew of a Japanese submarine near the end of World War II. Twin blasts sent the distinguished warship to the bottom in twelve minutes, leaving hundreds of crewmen adrift in the Philippine Sea.

Just days before, the captain and crew of Indianapolis had earned a footnote in history by delivering components of the first operational atomic bomb from San Francisco Bay to an airbase on Tinian Island nearly six thousand miles away. They sailed alone from Tinian westward and into the crosshairs of the submarine. For four days and five nights following the sinking, the crew faced thirst, drowning, exposure, and sharks—and uncertainty about whether rescuers would ever come. Of one thousand one hundred and ninety-five aboard, only three hundred and sixteen survived.  

Traits Indianapolis survivors shared in the water to handle their ordeals included teamwork, tenacity, and doggedness. Many also drew strength from promises made to loved ones that they would come home. Shadowing them was fate, the men unlucky to be adrift yet lucky to be alive. All watched as luck ran out for buddies, exposure and endlessness asking too much of mind and body, or sharks staining the water red where a buddy had been. Young men resolved to live while coming to terms with dying, opposing extremes that challenged their resolve afterward to live ordinary lives.

Teamwork, tenacity, and doggedness can be learned. These traits underlie an exciting program about an incredible story of honor and survival. In March 2021, USS Indianapolis Legacy Organization’s Education Committee aired a two-part webinar that presented the history of Indianapolis and a universal message from her crew to never give up. Guest presenters included authors Sara Vladic and Lynn Vincent; lost-at-sea family members Earl Henry and Michael Emery; Jane Goodall, daughter of rescue pilot Chuck Gwinn; Captain Bill Toti, Retired Captain of the submarine USS Indianapolis (SSN-697); and one of our cherished Indianapolis survivors, Dick Thelen. Both webinars were hosted by Jim Belcher, Jr., son of survivor Jim Belcher.


Did You Miss Our Two-Part Webinar–The Story of USS Indianapolis (CA-35)? 


Part I - Focus:  1932 launch, World War II missions, and the ship’s tragic sinking.

                          To watch a replay of Part 1, click here.


Part II - Focus:  Survival, rescue, and the effort to exonerate the ship’s captain: Captain Charles B. McVay III

                              To watch a replay of Part 2, click here

 Q & A - Download 

        Read panelists' answers to questions that came directly from Webinar attendees!

 --Robert Cantrell, Member of the USS Indianapolis Legacy Organization’s Education Committee

The Story of USS Indianapolis - A Self Study Module

A PowerPoint Presentation
by E Carl Fahnestock, USN Veteran (USS Wasp CVS-18) &
Lily H Fahnestock, Consultant and Editor

Carl Fahnestock is a Charter Member of USS Indianapolis CA-35 Legacy Organization.  He and his wife, Lily, both serve as active members of the organization’s Education Committee.  Together, they created “The Story of USS Indianapolis – A Self Study Module” to support the Legacy Organization’s mission to educate future generations about the life and times of USS Indianapolis (CA-35) and her storied crew.   Carl is a US Navy Veteran and served as an Electronics Technician aboard the aircraft carrier USS Wasp (CVS-18).  Lily was a former Secondary School Educator and is currently employed by a major company.

Homework Assignments

Provided by Dawn Ott Bollhoefer

Grandchild of Theodore G. Ott, Y1, Lost-At-Sea

Can You Find All the Words?

Can You Figure Out the Clues?

USS Indianpolis Word Search 1.jpg

Click Here to Download the Word Search

Indianapolis crossword 2.jpg
Indianapolis crossword 2.jpg

Click Here to Download the Crossword Puzzle

Can You Answer Them All?

A 60+ Question Quiz for the Master Student!

Click Here to Download the USS Indy Questionaire

Answer Key to Homework Assignments



Dawn Ott Bollhoefer is the oldest grandchild of Theodore G. Ott, Y1, Lost-At-Sea. She is an active member of the USS Indianapolis Legacy Organization, serving on the Education Committee, creating student/research assignments, as well as word puzzles. She is also active in her local community providing presentations about USS Indianapolis CA-35 to school and other groups. She is a wife, veteran homeschool mother of 3, and grandmother to 8 home educated grandchildren. She loves sharing the story of USS Indianapolis CA-35 and values being able to share its legacy.

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