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"We tried to all gather in the water and keep ourselves together where the sharks wouldn't get us. (Video Interview, 22:29)

   Louis Harold Erwin
Image of Louis Harold Erwin
Louis Harold Erwin, 2003
War: World War, 1939-1945
Branch: Navy
Unit: USS Indianapolis (CA 354)
Service Location: Pacific Theater; Gilbert Islands; Marshall Islands; Mariana Islands; Western Caroline Islands; Iwo Jima; Okinawa Island (Ryukyu Islands)
Rank: Coxswain
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Louis Erwin spent four days and five nights at sea after the USS Indianapolis went down, floating in a kapok life jacket. He lost hundreds of shipmates during those harrowing days and nights—to sharks, to madness from drinking salt water, and from a loss of hope for rescue. Erwin survived, only to see their captain court-martialed for the sinking. For Erwin, the tragedy is that Leyte did not alert anyone to the fact that the Indianapolis never arrived.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (5 clips)
»Complete Interview  
Download: video (1) | video (2) | video (3) (78 min.)
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»The War
 Video (Interview Excerpts) (5 items)
Erwin recalls where he was when the ship was hit. (01:36) The conditions and the sharks whittled down the number of survivors. (00:44) Aftermath of the sinking and the rescue. (02:56)
The survivors were spotted by chance by a low-flying bomber piloted by Chuck Gwynn. (01:32) Erwin and other survivors spent decades trying to get their captain exonerated. (00:35) 
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  October 26, 2011
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