History at Home: USS Indianapolis Disaster

Event Type: Library Event
Date: 2/20/2020
Start Time: 2:00 PM
End Time: 3:30 PM
 On July 26, 1945, the battle-scarred USS Indianapolis had just delivered secret cargo to Tinian Island in the Pacific Ocean – parts for Little Boy, the first nuclear weapon ever used in combat. The ship then set out for the Philippines. Halfway to its destination, in the early morning hours of July 30, 1945, the unescorted heavy cruiser was sunk by a Japanese torpedo. In 12 minutes, 300 of its crew of 1,195 went down with the ship. About 880 men made it alive into the sea; only 316 survived.

Historian Dick Campbell will tell the chilling story of the U.S. Navy’s worst single disaster at 2 pm and repeated at 6 pm. Free. No registration. This program was rescheduled from January 2020.

With photos and stories, Campbell will recount the survivors’ five horrific days and nights in the ocean, with no water or food; their accidental discovery by a Navy combat patrol plane; the bitter controversy over the Navy’s handling of the disaster; and the fate of the surviving captain. He’ll include photos of the wreckage on the floor of the Philippine Sea, 18,000 feet deep.

Since retiring from the role of executive director of the Oshkosh YMCA, Campbell has traveled extensively in the region – and as far as Fairbanks, Alaska – presenting an array of history programs on topics as wide-ranging as the Oregon Trail and Ernest Shackleton’s voyage to the Antarctic.

History at Home focuses on stories about the area's past every third Thursday of the month at 2 p.m. and repeated at 6 p.m. (no program in December). The programs are free; no registration required. Many History at Home programs are captured on video and shared on the library's YouTube channel. That link can be found at

Location: Eugene G. McLane Meeting Room