Out of the Depths: An Unforgettable Story of Survival, Courage, and the Sinking of the U. S. S. Indianapolis is the personal experience of WWII veteran Edgar Harrell (USMC). He was one of the 317 survivors from a crew of almost 1200 men on the Indianapolis when it was torpedoed by a Japanese sub in Philippine waters on July 29, 1945. The title and the Bible verse from which it came describe how Harrell relied on God during five days of drifting in the ocean with other sailors without rafts or provisions. It's a gripping account of the horrors he experienced. It's also a story you may not have heard before because ship's mission was secret. Plus, there was a subsequent attempt to cover up the Navy's mishandling of the situation.
The Indianapolis had delivered the critical components for the atomic bombs that ended the war to the U. S. base on Tinian. The ship had left Tinian and was in the general vicinity of the Philippines when it was sunk. Some men were killed in the actual sinking, but many of them were left to drift in the ocean for days. Many died from exposure and salt-water poisoning, but some were killed by the sharks. And the worse of it---nobody knew they were out there. No distress signal was sent, probably because it happened so fast. The home port did not question when the ship did not arrive at scheduled time. Finally, an American plane spotted some of the survivors and started the ball rolling on rescuing them.
I can't imagine anything more agonizing than what Mr. Harrell went through. His son, pastor David Harrell, co-wrote the book. Like many WWII vets, Harrell had not shared his story during the immediate aftermath of the war. But, the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon prompted Harrell to finally speak out. He felt that 9/11 was Pearl Harbor all over again. He wanted America to know what it took to win WWII.
He does an excellent job of telling the story and sharing instances in which he felt God heard his prayers. His writing style keeps you reading. In fact, it was a hard book to put down. I highly recommend Out of the Depths for all Americans. Those of us who grew up after WWII have no idea what people went through during the war. Families didn't hear from their loved ones for months on end. Some were killed or MIA. Soldiers, sailors and marines were wounded physically or emotionally, but they still came home to work at keeping America strong. Edgar Harrell raised a family and ran a thriving business, but he never set foot in the ocean again.
Note: scheduled release date for this book is May 6, 2014.
Disclaimer: Bethany House sent me this book at no charge in exchange for an honest review to be posted here and on retail bookseller site. This fact in no way influenced by opinion.
- On the ship and the survivors: http://www.ussindianapolis.org/
- The Indy sinking was mentioned in the 1975 movie Jaws. Note that some of the facts in Quint's monolog are inaccurate. Movie clip: http://youtu.be/u9S41Kplsbs
- Image from http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/out-of-the-depths/351481.