And then there was one!
August 19, 2023
On July 29-30, 1945, the heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis was traveling to Leyte in the Philippines. Unknown to anyone on board, it had just dropped off components of the first atomic bomb to Tinian Island, where they were to be assembled and eventually dropped on Hiroshima. Meanwhile, in the same area, the Imperial Japanese sub I-58 was looking for a target. Unfortunately, it found the Indianapolis.
Six torpedoes were released from the sub and within 15 minutes the Indianapolis, along with 300 of its 1195-member crew, were gone. Many of us know this story from the movie "Jaws" where the captain played by Robert Shaw talked about the sharks hitting the survivors as they waited days to be rescued. When they were finally found only 317 men remained. Today, 78 years later, there are two men, one from the Indianapolis and one from the Japanese sub I-58 who are still alive. The two men have been corresponding since May 2023. Here is a part of the communication between the two.
Dear Mr. Kiyozumi,
My name is Harold Bray and I am the last survivor of the USS Indianapolis CA-35. I understand that you are the last survivor of your submarine, I-58.
I want to extend my hand in friendship to you and to tell you that I bear no ill will towards you or your fellow countrymen. We both fought for our countries and now that the war is over, this is a time for healing. There are no winners in a war. Both sides lose so much – shipmates, families, friends....
Let us look forward to working together to build a better, safer world.
Harold J Bray, S2
USS Indianapolis CA-35
Dear Mr. Harold Bray,
Thank you very much for your kind letter.
I was very surprised to read that you were the last survivor of the USS Indianapolis CA35. I am happy to see that you look so young and healthy in the photo. I am now 96 years old.
I was 16 years old on July 30, in the I-58 submarine. I was just starting out.
Although the war was an unfortunate event, I am moved that we are now living in such a happy and peaceful way, and that we can talk to each other as friends. I will continue making efforts to work for a peaceful world.
I would like to send your heart to the spirits of our fallen comrades-in-arms.
Thank you very much.
These men who were combatants just a short while ago are now friends striving for a more peaceful world for us all.
Marty Pay is a contributing writer for The Loop newspaper and has been a Financial Planner for years and teaches Finance at a local University. He can be reached at Farmers Insurance in Tehachapi (661) 822-3737.