Richard P. Thelen, a survivor of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis CA-35, will be guest speaker at Auburn Military Collector’s Show on April 11 and 12. The event is held at the National Military History Center in Auburn, Ind.
Thelen, US Navy – Seaman, 2nd Class, is one of 317 crew members who survived the tragedy.
According to the USS Indianapolis Museum, on July 26, 1945, the USS Indianapolis (CA-35) delivered key components for the world’s first operational atomic bomb to the island of Tinian in the South Pacific. After completing this mission, the cruiser proceeded to the Philippines, to participate in war activities and the pending invasion of Japan.
A few minutes after midnight on July 30, 1945, the USS Indianapolis was torpedoed by the Japanese submarine I-58 and sank into the sea in just 12 minutes, taking 297 men with her. Approximately 900 of the original 1,197 men on board were left floating in darkness, without lifeboats, in shark-infested waters. Due to communications problems, the ship was never missed. By the time the survivors were spotted by chance four and a half days later, only 317 were left; the other crew members were victims of injury, exposure and shark attacks.
Thelen will share his story and host a general Q&A session at 2 p.m. April 11 and noon April 12. He will be available before and after the sessions to sell and autograph copies of the hardcover book, “317 Survived,” written and published by survivors.
General show hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday. General admission is $10, with a discounted admission fee of $8 for children, seniors, veterans and active military.
For details, visit www.nationalmilitaryhistorycenter.org or call 260-927-9144.