The USS Indianapolis (CA 35) Gallery at the Indiana War Memorial will be permanently opened to the public in a ceremony organized by the USS Indianapolis Navy Club beginning Monday, August 20 as part of Indianapolis Navy Week.
This 700 square foot Gallery, located on the first floor of the Indiana War Memorial, tells the story of one of the most famous ships in the history of the United States.
The heavy cruiser Indianapolis was launched November 7, 1931 and was used by Franklin Delanor Roosevelt as his ship of state. While presidents of today travel on Air Force One – the USS Indianapolis was FDR's Navy One.
During World War II it served as the flagship of U.S. Fifth Fleet – carrying Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, an Indianapolis native. It fought in 10 major battles for which it won 10 battle stars. At the end of WW II it carried the first A-Bomb which was dropped on Hiroshima and led to the surrender of Japan and the end of war in the Pacific. Ironically, the Indianapolis was sunk by a Japanese submarine seven days before the A-Bomb it had carried was dropped. Of the 1,196 aboard, about 900 made it into the water in the twelve minutes before she sank. Few life rafts were released. Most survivors wore the standard kapok life jacket. Shark attacks began with sunrise of the first day and continued until the men were physically removed from the water, almost five days later.
The sinking and its aftermath have become a story that will be told as long as men and women go down to the sea. It is a story of survival and heroism that stays with the teller and listener alike – reminding them again and again of the sacrifice made on their behalf by people they will never meet.
The USS Indianapolis Gallery endeavors to tell this story. It celebrates the 76-year history of the ship and helps us put names and faces to the events of long ago. The Gallery contains a 6-foot model of the ship, the original 800-pound ship's bell, artifacts from every period of the ship's history, and the original history project of a 12-year old boy which eventually exonerated the Captain of any fault for the loss of the ship.