USS Indianapolis survivor will speak Sunday at Zion, Sinking Creek churches

Published 8:53 am Friday, March 2, 2018


Edgar Harrell, a surviving crew member of the USS Indianapolis, which was bombed and sank during World War II, will share his testimony Sunday at two Elizabethton churches. He will speak at the 11 a.m. worship service Sunday at Sinking Creek Baptist Church and at 6 p.m. at the Zion Baptist Church, 1982 Gap Creek Road.
Harrell, 92, of Clarksville, is the only living Marine and just one of two Tennesseans that were aboard the ship during its fateful wartime mission.
The USS Indianapolis had just completed a mission delivering atomic bomb components to Tinian, an island about 1,500 miles off Japan’s mainland, which Allied Forces used to stage heavy bombing attacks on the Japanese islands during World War II.
The ship, with its 1,196 crew members, then went to Guam, before beginning a journey to the Philippines it would never complete. On July 30, 1945, the ship was hit by Japanese torpedoes, sinking in only 12 minutes, according to
“I lost 880 of my shipmates,” Harrell said. “Of the 317 that survived there are 17 of us still living today as of three or four days ago. Of the 39 Marines, nine survived. I am the last Marine still standing. It is my opportunity and privilege to travel the country and tell the story of the greatest tragedy at sea in the history of the U.S. Navy.”
He and others were in the ocean for five days before being rescued. Most of his crew mates were killed by exhaustion, shark attacks and exposure.
Though several attempts have been made to find the U.S.S. Indianapolis over the years, efforts were finally successful in August of 2017, when researchers positively identified the wreckage found in the Philippine Sea.
Another Indianapolis survivor heard about Harrell’s speaking engagement at Zion Baptist and asked if he could attend and also share his story. Neither he or Harrell have seen each other since the ship’s sinking.
The public is invited to attend both services.
Sinking Creek Baptist is located at 2313 Elizabethton Highway.
The Rev. Jason Hoagland is pastor at Sinking Creek Baptist, and Dr. D. Alan King is pastor at Zion Baptist.

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