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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
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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)
»Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 
Download: video(1) | 
Download: video(2) | 
Download: video(3) (78 min.)
More like this
»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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