tv Lynn Vincent Sara Vladic Indianapolis CSPAN September 15, 2018 1:11pm-2:02pm EDT
know, they didn't want to define themselves in terms of gender and you know, they felt that the system was imposed on them and they kind of had to adopt trans as a way of defining themselves to just create space for them to exist within that framework. >> you can watch this and other programs online at booktv.org. >> hey, everybody. thanks for coming. want to set out tonight by recognizing some people in the room. first i want to ask you, is there anyone here who doesn't know anything about the indianapolis story? okay. so everybody has a pretty general idea. so what i would like to do is start off by acknowledging some people in the room. first, would you please stand if you are a u.s. armed forces veteran?
thank you. okay. and now please stand if you are in any way associated with the "uss indianapolis" story as a family member or maybe even a character in the book. so we're so glad to have with us this evening mr. jim belcher in the white polo shirt with the fabulous stars on his sleeve. jim is the son of one of the indianapolis survivors. james belcher. so this is jim belcher, james belcher, jr. also with us is captain william tody. bill was the last captain of the "uss indianapolis" the submarine
and bill was integral in helping achieve the exoneration of captain mcvay. one more thing i would like to acknowledge is mr. scott christianson. scott is with the u.s. naval institute and was instrumental in getting us some of the fabulous photos that are in the photo section in the book. i would like to start by asking who here heard of the story of the "indianapolis" by watching the 1975 film "jaws"? usually that's where most people hear about it. any other places? anyone, did you see it on a documentary, hear news about it? in the last year, who learned about it in the last year? with the finding of the ship? >> no, there was an article in
the aarp magazine. >> there was a little article in the aarp magazine. a write-up in the "new york post" about the finding of the ship? >> about the book. >> oh, about the book. okay. >> i heard about it as a 13-year-old who was that nerdy kid that went to the library and i had watched it with my father, who he was an immigrant from the former yugoslavia and he learned english by watching documentaries many years earlier. so when we watched this, it was a line, the line in the documentary, it was a ship that carried the bomb and was sunk at the end of world war ii and that's all there was. so very little about it. and so being that kid, i went to the library and started looking it up and there was nothing. i couldn't find any books about it. i could find a couple paragraphs here and there but i wanted to know more, and so when i did
learn, i wanted to make a movie about it. i wanted someone to make a movie about it and i thought by the time they did, i would not be old enough to do it but by the time i was old enough, someone would surely have made this story. and by the time i turned 21, graduated from pepperdine, no one had made it. no one had told the story properly yet. this was 2001. there was a book coming out called "in harm's way" but that was not out yet so wasn't familiar with the other books. i just wanted to make a movie and i thought i would do it in two to three years, tops. very easy to do. so i set out, i found the survivors organization, paul and mary lou murphy, paul was chair of the survivors organization at the time. he invited me to a reunion. this was my first reunion and i showed up and all my heroes were there. again, i was this kid like wow, you know, scared to talk to anyone and just got to sit there
and observe. but started talking to the survivors and they invited me back. in between then, they invited me to a couple events and so i got to know them and their families and a couple years passed, and they took me to a denny's, very nice. i was very poor film maker. that should tell you. so i treated. so i was charged with this enormous task that i thought i could clearly take, you know, like i said, a couple years to do. wanted to write a screenplay so i thought the only way i can tell this story is by interviewing the men who lived through it, and started doing that in 2005 and writing the screenplay as i did the interviews. and 17 years later, here we are. well, 17 years from 2001. but wrote the screenplay and took it to a major network and they said this is fantastic, it's the best thing we've seen
since "band of brothers" but it needs to be based on a book. i had no idea how to write a book. i wrote screenplays. they're very different. so i asked family and friends, anyone know any authors, i need advice, how do you write a book. my mother-in-law actually through her book club had fairly recently had lynn come speak about her book, same kind of different as me, so she set up the connection and i got to e-mail her. i set out to e-mail lynn and she was a best-selling author, had written "heaven is for real," "new york times" number one, and there's me, the film maker, saying how do you do this. i didn't want to sound dopey. and said you know what, i got to do it and i did. i reached out to lynn and that's kind of, it was the next step of this story. >> what she didn't know when she reached out to me is that i'm a
navy veteran. she also didn't know that i was an investigative journalist for about 11 years before i transitioned to books, and she also didn't know one very important thing in addition, which is that i had been praying to write an iconic world war ii story. and i don't mean like hoping and praying. i mean literally praying, because i pray about my work. god had provided in that way before. i had provided to write a special operations story because i think those guys are kind of badass so i'm a huge chicken and so the way i get my kicks is just vicariously, you know, behind my computer screen going and doing all of these crazy things. so i would have written a story about any special operations guy that god provided the commanding officer of delta force so i had a history of this, and i had also written a book about a
heavy weapons company. so now i wanted to tackle world war ii, and i asked god to provide that and here suddenly i get this e-mail from this young lady. but darn it, all she wants is advice. i didn't want to jump all over her like a wrestler and say let's partner up, so very cleverly and very subtly -- >> kind of subtly. >> -- i manipulated her into -- >> no, it has been an incredible partnership. a lost tim a lot of times we're asked who does what, how do we do this, does she write it and i'm the historian, and that's not it at all. we formed this partnership and we both have our strengths in
the story, but together, we were able to weave the narrative and to do the research -- here's that feedback. so we were able to weave this narrative together with our strengths. lynn was incredible at digging with her investigative journalism background to go into the major historians and the public figures of world war ii and to go into the bigger picture of the story of the "indianapolis" and with my relationship with the survivors and doing all the interviews over the years, and lynn came into that as well doing the interviews, but that brought the personalized stories that maybe other authors didn't have the time to do before that. there are other fantastic books out there, but you know, they didn't have 17 years to put into a book. and so together, i think it worked out so well, it became an incredible partnership and even more incredible friendship.
we essentially found a way to research and use that as an excuse to eat our way through the eastern seaboard. and so it's just really been a blessing and with the families and bill and his family, everyone involved, they helped us to build this incredible book that we could not have done, neither one of us could have done on our own. >> another question we get asked a lot is that there are some wonderful books on "indianapolis," three in particular come to mind. i don't know how many of you have read "in harm's way." there's another book done in 1990 called "fatal voyage" done by a really tough guy journalist, foreign correspondent for "the washington post." then in 1959, there was another book called "abandon ship" done by richard newcomb, news editor for the associated press.
so each one of these books has a little bit of a different character. newcomb in the 1950s was the first to realize that this grave injustice had been done to the captain in his view, and he didn't spend very much time in the water with the men. then in 1990, there was some more information that was declassified and dan kurzman was able to reveal somewhat more of the story and doug stanton's book really spent about 80% of the time in the water. so he was really the first person to interview, he told me he interviewed over 80 survivors and wrote this really compelling survival tale. what we wanted to do was sort of pull back the lens, to use a lame film maker's term. >> i taught her these things. >> and we wanted to elevate "indianapolis" above a sinking story, because for decades, it had been known as a sinking story.
there's probably one word that comes to mind for so many people with the "indianapolis" story and that's sharks. so the ship and her legacy had been reduced to a shark story. what a lot of people really didn't know or other authors really didn't emphasize was the fact she was the fifth fleet flagship. she was the admiral's flagship and he was fifth fleet commander. so much of the conflict in the pacific was strategized and planned from the decks of "indianapolis" so we wanted to remind people of that. we also wanted to remind people she was at the conquest of the marianas, iwo jima, okinawa, many, many battles. all of these things had become iconic, household names in american history, and "indianapolis" was at the forefront of that. another thing we wanted to do was really, for the very first
time, tell the details of the transport of the atomic bomb. in every other account i had read, that transport was reduced to a line or maybe a paragraph at the most, and we were really fortunate when we were at the library of congress to come across the private papers of a man named robert furman. furman was an army major, and he was the head of intelligence under general leslie groves for the manhattan project. when it came time to transport fissionable materials for little boy, the atomic bomb that was later dropped on hiroshima, he didn't trust anybody except for furman. so in furman's file at the library of congress, he had these handwritten notes, typewritten notes, i am such a geek, there was a notepad that he had that when he was on the ship and when he was transporting the bomb that was like in his pocket and he was taking notes and i was holding
it going oh, my gosh, this was right next to the components for little boy, this artifact i'm holding in my hand. so all of these papers enabled us to tell for the first time the details of the transport and not only that, but the relationship with the sailors and officers aboard "indianapolis" that the major developed. >> another part of it was really bringing the people in the story to life. we wanted to, you know, we had the great privilege of getting to know these men, the crew of the "indianapolis" over the years, and so in the telling of the story, we wanted you all and the readers to know who these men were. so the young bugler, you know, the second-time surviving a sinking officer, the young man who had just come from nebraska, the biggest thing he had ever seen in his life prior to this was a tractor. and never seen a body of water,
never learned how to swim, what's it like for him to go to war. these are 16, 17, 18-year-old young men and they are generally running the fleet. so we wanted you to be in their shoes, and the relationships that we had were able to bring those voices to life. so i don't know that other authors had that opportunity, getting to know the men as well to tell their story. so really, it's more of a personal account of that experience, and kind of as much as you can, allows you to step into world war ii for what it was like for these young men at that time. in addition to that, there was the rescue account. it's an incredible, miraculous story that took place during the rescue, and very few people have been able to tell that story before, but we were able to interview quite a few rescuers and use the book -- well, he has two books, "those in peril on the sea," and he collected
stories of all the rescuers. imagine these men have been in the water for five days or excuse me, five nights and four days, and by the time they're rescued, they are incoherent. they are a breath away from their lives ending. so really, the rescuers came and told the story of that last period of them being in the water and rescuing them and you know, one of the best -- one of our favorite stories is lieutenant adrian marks, who was a pilot -- >> and a lawyer. >> and a lawyer from indiana. so adrian marks, he was the third plane on site but he was down and he had seen men being attacked by sharks. he's seeing the peril these men are facing and says we have to do something. so he takes his catalina and against protocol, he lands.
these are 12-foot flows. this is not, you know, smooth sailing, this is not an easy landing. he's risking himself and his crew to do this. and he lands and it destroys the plane. the plane will never fly again. it's scuttled. but he's able to save 53 lives doing this, pulling the men into the cockpit, pulling the men on to the wings. he's wrapping them with parachutes to keep them secure because as we mentioned, the coast to land is 280 miles away. so it's 12 hours for the closest ship to arrive once these men are spotted and they are dying. they are dying very quickly. so we are able to tell this rescue account and the heroes, again, 16, 17 and 18-year-olds who are pulling these men out of the water, and you know, there's a great story of peter wren telling about how he pulls up and these men, we don't know at this point that the men are
americans or japanese. there's no reports of sunken vessels at this time so they are pulling up and these men are covered in black, thick oil that can only be removed by heat. the heat has to transfer oil so they are covered and you can only see their eyes. and he pulls up and has his revolver drawn and says who are you and what ship are you from. they say just like a dumbass officer asking dumbass questions. >> he quipped he knew then these men were american. that's one of my favorite stories. i love the story of adrian marks and his courage landing that pdy in the water. then, you know, the story goes on from there. only 316 of the crew of 1195 men survived. about 300 went down with the ship.
about just a little under 900 went into the water alive. and if you don't -- if you're not real familiar with the story, you might wonder well, how are they in the water for five nights and four days, why didn't anybody know they were missing. well, it was what sebastian junger brought into the american dialect. it was what's known as the perfect storm. the perfect storm of circumstances doomed so many of those men, more than 800 of those men. what happened was in the first place, the navy did not let the cr crew, captain, know they had top-secret intelligence, that there was a team of four japanese attack subs that were headed down into the philippine sea. this was called the tamond group and the additions, that's what
the intelligence people who had cracked the code, who were privy to this code, the magicians knew the subs were headed into the philippine sea and they had one so closely estimated as to its positi position, when a ship was sunk six days before the "indianapolis" was sunk, the place where the intelligence people had pegged the sinking submarine on the map was just a few miles off from where underhill was sunk. well, they had i-58 on their map, too, where "indianapolis" would eventually transition from guam in the east to the philippines in the west. the navy did not pass this intelligence to the captain. some people say that was the most highly classified intelligence program of the war and they had a very closely guarded restriction on who had access to this intelligence. however, as we all know, and as
intelligence officers of the era later wrote, intelligence is useless if it doesn't get out to the men in the fleet and in the forward areas. so what they would do, ever since breaking the code, they would sanitize it and get it out to those people, but in this case, they didn't. why didn't they? part of the reason is a bit of complacency had probably set in. it was generally considered the boring backwater of the war. it was considered the rear. so perhaps there was a little bit of complacency. indeed, they did not send a destroyer escort along with "indianapolis" to guard her and as many of you in the room know, cruisers which "indianapolis" was a heavy cruiser, did not have sonar or underwater detection, sound detection equipment of any type. so they would always send a destroyer with a ship of this type. they did not send a destroyer with "indianapolis" again because the philippines sea was considered safe and mcvay was led to believe it was safe.
then when commander hashimoto struck with two torpedos, he blew off the bow. it hung on for just a little while but he essentially blew it off, then he hit midship with such a ferocious strike that both radio shacks were essentially rendered useless. so no s.o.s. was able to go out. finally, as a former air traffic controller, i know about something we call flight following. well, flight following is when a plane doesn't arrive at the airport when they're supposed to, you begin to backtrack and find out what happened to the plane. well, in this case, there was, when "indianapolis" didn't arrive, there was an order in effect and that order said that no arrival reports would be made for combatant ships. well, there was kind of a goofball lieutenant that said hm, if i'm not supposed to make an arrival report for a
combatant ship, i suppose i'm not supposed to make a non-arrival report either. so this horrible stew of circumstances is what doomed these men to stay in the water for five days and four nights. five nights and four days. so what we wanted to do is go back and take a fresh look at all of the primary sources documenting all of this stuff, without being tainted -- not tainted, that's not the right word -- influenced by seven deck ac decades of interpretation. >> another part of the story we were able to go into is the exoneration. when the men were rescued and brought to guam, a court of inquiry was ordered and that was, you know, they needed to find out who was responsible not for the sinking but more so for the fact that it went unnoticed for so long and all these men perished at sea. so on august 13th, the first court of inquiry was called and
the testimonies were given by the survivors. there were very few officers who survived. so they interviewed as many as they could that were in good health at the time including captain mcvay. very quickly it turned into the realization that captain mcvay would be the one held responsible. the charges that they ultimately brought against him in december of 1945 was the first was failure to call abandon ship, which they quickly proved was not true. every man testified that they heard it and acted accordingly. but the second thing that they brought against him was failure to zigzag. he did, in fact, give the order that it was up to the officer in charge to call whether or not it was needed, and thinking that they were in safe waters, thinking that they were just headed on routine trip, they thought zigzagging after midnight, it was a cloudy night, didn't seem to be an issue and
zigzagging was a maneuver that was intended to kind of literally zigzagging to avoid the enemy submarines. well, by this point in the war, this was normal -- can't think of the word. normal strategy. >> standard operating procedure. >> thank you. that's why we have the buddy system here. so standard operating procedure for ships, you know, the japanese were well aware of what we were doing and acted accordingly. so even when commander hashimoto was called to testify against captain mcvay in his court martial, he said in japanese he would have sunk the ship either way. unfortunately, the interpreter did not say that exactly as he did. he knew enough english to understand that that's not what he said or it wasn't translated properly but he didn't know
enough english or didn't have the confidence, you know, you have to remember, too, that he was essentially a prisoner. he was brought to testify. he was the enemy. he didn't know, i'm sure he was very scared, and certainly intimidated, to come into there and testify so he didn't fight it. he went home and told his family that they did not interpret it properly. so, you know, the captain was charged with something that really was the only thing that they could find him guilty for. >> i want to say something about the fact that commander hashimoto was called to the united states to testify in the first place. when this happened, you have to remember that the war had only been over for about four months, and so when american citizens found out that a japanese officer, a member of the defeated enemy, was called to washington, d.c. to testify against -- right down the street at washington navy yard, yeah, and i want to introduce somebody
else here in a second. when they found this out, oh, my gosh, the letters started pouring in. they started writing to secretary forrestal, to admiral king, to president truman, saying, you know, there were racist epithets included in these letters saying how could you let this happen. so it was a huge national scandal and even on the floors of congress, they had representatives who gave fiery speeches on the house floor. it was a big scandal at the time. we have another person in the room that i don't think he stood up when i asked for people associated with the story but we have with us today, carl, would you stand up? carl's father was on the prosecution team at the captain's court martial. it's very possible that he was
actually the lead prosecutor even though the putative lead prosecutor was a captain. the lieutenant was pretty junior at the time but was a brilliant legal mind. carl jr. carl's jr. no, he was one of several occasions as we were writing this book that we were on deadline, we were just about to turn in the story, then we get a phone call. >> friday at 4:00 and the book was due monday at 8:00. stop the presses. got this incredible call and carl had a container of notes from his father that, you know, hey, you want to look through this? >> i was like we don't know. >> we were actually really excited about it.
so we actually called bill tody because bill was close by. we were in san diego and carl was over here. so bill, always coming to the rescue, went over there and called, stop the presses, you know, and we worked through that weekend both with the help of carl and bill. we got photographs of crucial documents and were able to fill in a couple more pieces of this puzzle that had been a mystery for 73 years at this point. that was one of several times this happened. it always happened at the end, like right before things were due. that was over three months. so all of those things, we prayed for, we asked, give us something new to make this book really the book that tells the whole "indianapolis" story and that is one example of how that came to be. >> absolutely.
then the way we wound up the book with two major movements of the story. one is the exoneration of captain mcvay and the exoneration effort really occurred in three distinct phases. one was the survivors had their first reunion in 1960. they hadn't seen each other for 15 years, and many of you may know that world war ii guys, they weren't out there, you know, trying to get on the cover of "people" magazine. they weren't out there trying to get a book deal. >> no twitter. >> no twitter. no facebook. they just picked up their lives and moved on. many of them really struggled. they have struggled with alcoholism, they struggled to hold a job. about a dozen of them committed suicide, including in 1968, captain mcvay. he had been persecuted by many of the families of the lost, not all the families of the lost, but many of the families of the
lost wrote him letters from 1945 to 1968 saying things like if it weren't for you, i would be celebrating christmas with my son. he kept getting these letters and letters and letters until finally, in 1968, he ended his own life. but in 1960, prior to that, he spoke at the first survivors reunion and they gave him such a warm reception. he was so worried that they blamed him but to a man, they did not blame him. they, in fact, thought that he had been a victim of a legal injustice. so beginning in 1960, they mounted an effort to clear his name and that continued as they would knock on the doors of congress, they would, you know, write letters. his adult sons in the '80s wrote letters to president reagan and vice president bush, and every time, they came up empty. then in the 1990s, how many of you maybe recognize the name hunter scott?
hunter scott was an 11-year-old boy who saw the "indianapolis" story on "jaws" and thought it would make a good history project. he teamed up with a legislator named joe scarborough who is now "morning joe" and really for the first time in decades brought tremendous attention to this case, and then the third phase of that exoneration effort was handled by captain bill tody as he kind of worked behind the scenes. it's like a spy novel at the end of the movie as you see bill sort of negotiating the halls of the pentagon to get this done. so that is the second to the last major movement. at the end of the book. then there's the finding of the ship. >> so i think the members of the team found the ship at the
perfect time for us to include it in the book. again, the last minute. but as most of you know, on august 19th of 2017, the "indianapolis" was finally found and it was an incredible moment for the crew and the families, but what was interesting is actually, i got a call from bill tody, 4:00 in the morning. i don't know what the first few words he said were, but it came down to sara, they found the ship. and we had three hours? three hours to notify the survivors that lost at sea, anyone we could before it went to press. so it was a great privilege to be able to call the men and share this information with them, their ship had been found. what was incredibly interesting to me is there wasn't celebration. it was reverence. there was a couple funny ones. stan lopez was a young sailor who had just had the best day of his life playing dice on the
ship the day that she sank, and won a ton of money, put it in his sock, put it in the locker, and his first reaction was can they go find my money sock? and you know, it was edgar's anniversary. he said whenat a wonderful anniversary present. overall it was reverence for their ship and their buddies. they lost their best friends, and finding the ship meant not closure, but another chapter of the story that they had a final, you know, final resting place. there were a lot of tears but it was an incredible moment to have that. it also helped us with kind of piecing together what took place when the torpedos struck the ship. there had been a lot of mystery surrounding it and there was an ensign, john wolfson, who went on to be a captain in the navy,
but he swore certain things happened and he still, i think, he unfortunately passed away recently, but i think his last words were the bow didn't blow off. what we learned through this is that, you know, the ship, the ship was tore popedoed and what believe happened is it didn't pull the bow off all the way. it served sort of as a rudder that turned the ship port even though it was hit starboard. when john came up from below decks and saw this, he saw the part that was still attached, so from his perspective, it was still there the last time he saw it. and you know, remember, this is 12 minutes it took the ship to sink. so this is not a casual thing that happened. this is very traumatic. there's a lot going on. there's people trying to figure out what to do. they can't hear any orders being called so they are trying to figure out, so in this chaos, everybody kind of had a perspective of what they saw that might have been different from someone who saw it two
minutes earlier. so it was really kind of interesting to be able to piece that together and then look at the bow was found a mile away from the rest of the ship. so to be able to say okay, this is probably what happened, you know, these bulkheads would have collapsed and that was really what gave us a better idea of what happened in those 12 minutes. >> another story that i want to tell with respect to the finding of the ship has to do with a man named earl o'henry senior. i wanted to see if you could bring me one of those cards, jim. i failed to bring one up here with me. so one of the people that sara and bill notified that "indianapolis" had been found was a gentleman in nashville, tennessee named earl o'henry junior. he is the son of lieutenant commander earl henry, who was the dentist aboard "indianapolis."
when he got hit by kamikaze in 1945, that was what we call in storytelling the inciting event that sent her back to the united states for repairs and put her in position to be selected to carry the bomb in the first place. if she hadn't gotten hit by that kamikaze she may have been the victorious flagship over the battle of okinawa, sailed home and everyone aboard might have lived but that's, of course, not what happened. so when he sailed back for repairs, lieutenant commander henry was ecstatic because his wife was a little over seven months pregnant and he was already in his 30s, and they had waited longer than most couples of that era to have kids. so he went back home to mayfield, kentucky, really excited to see his wife, and he spent some time there and then his leave was over and he had to go back. and five days later, earl junior was born prematurely.
fast forward one month, he gets called for the bomb mission. they speed to diamondhead, they drop off the parts but they also pick up mail. and there, lieutenant commander henry gets his first photos of little earl junior. i get choked up. four days later, the ship was sunk. one of the things that was interesting about lieutenant commander henry, he was an avid, really respected ornithologist which is a birder, for those who don't know, and when he was 21, he had to give up his hobby of bird taxidermy because he had graduated from dental school and figured people would not patronize a dentist who handled dead birds in his spare time. instead of taxidermy he took up drawing and painting and became a really, really proficient painter who eventually produced
paintings the quality of fine art. so we are going to share a little bit of that art with you tonight, but when sara called earl and told him that the ship had been found, it wasn't closure, but it was like he finally knew where his father was after 73 years. that just kills me. but we would like to tonight share with you some of earl's -- earl senior's art. earl junior has produced greeting cards with some of his father's paintings, and this painting which i don't know if you can see it, you will see it up close later, is called american eagle in the pacific. it was earl's impression of -- just his artistic impression of the american victory over japan.
this was painted aboard "indianapolis" in 1944, about a year before she was sunk. so we have one of these for each of you tonight. we would like to give you as a gift. whenever you leave tonight, whether you leave after the signing or somewhat sooner, james belcher junior, son of the survivor james belcher, is going to give you one of these cards. now -- >> we have a giveaway. see who has been paying attention. we have three audio books and three questions and we need a helper. basically, you have to answer by first raising your hand. the first hand that goes up, you can help us pick. then you have to give the correct answer along with raising your hand first.
>> she's taking off her jacket. she's getting serious. >> so if you would come up here to the front and if you don't call out the answers, ariana will check out what is the first hand that goes up, then you get the opportunity to get this fabulous audio book read by john steadford lloyd. bill can't answer. jim can't answer. anybody else? ben can't answer. mel. boy. >> i have the audio books down there in the bag. that white bag. so you are going to both check for hands and then you're going to be vanna and hand out the prizes. >> okay. three or four? you look like a smart crowd. who can name four, any four, of the ten battle stars that "indianapolis" earned in the
pacific? three. anyone, three? shall we give them a hint? >> i know you can name those. >> okay. we will give you another hint before we call on ben. name any island in the south pacific. >> philippines and okinawa. >> yes. >> and iwo jima. >> okay. this is a really hard one. but there aren't that many answers that you can give. how many vessels have ever been named "uss indianapolis"? tricky one. who said that?
who said four? somebody said four. you said four? that's correct. there was a ship, navy vessel named "indianapolis" prior to the cruiser. then there was bill tody's boat. now there is a newly -- is it commissioned and not launched? >> launched, not commissioned. >> that's what i said. yeah. lts-17. that would be commissioned in 2020. it's already built. yeah. >> who can tell me what the first mission of "indianapolis" was right after she was commissioned? the cruiser. come on.
excellent. fdr's south american cruise, good will cruise. it was the first time an american president had been taken outside the country during his presidency. >> you have to tell the story. >> okay. so when a sailor crosses the equator for the first time, they have a ceremony called crossing the line. before the sailor crosses the line, he's known as a slimy poliwog. after he crosses the line, he's known as a trusty shellback. how many trusty shellbacks do we have in here? and so when president roosevelt was on the ship, he was the first president and perhaps the only president who ever acted as
king neptune in the hazing. we have seen shellback certificates signed by the president so that's pretty cool. >> that is actually also film footage of that voyage. >> we don't want to tell you what goes on in those crossing line ceremonies. >> what year was that? >> 1932. '36. >> '36. >> in the '30s. >> the shellback was in '36. yeah. okay. >> now we would like to open it up to you and see if you have any questions. ariana has some instructions. >> we only have time for two or three questions. please come up and use the mic so we can hear what you're asking. if you haven't bought a book
yet, bring it over here and have it signed. >> thank you. i know it's really nervewracking to go up there. raise your hand if you have a question. no? no? >> what was the most interesting story that you couldn't leave in the book that you found? >> i'll tell my favorite. my favorite was the story of the amato, the last major japanese vessel that was sunk in world war ii, officially ending the reign of japanese warships. so we had this incredible story that paralleled the "indianapolis" sinking and even, you know, reading the diaries of the men who served aboard her, it was really interesting to say that the americans masterfully sunk their ship and they were in awe of how well we did it. which was interesting, but it was one of my favorite parts of
the story that we couldn't quite fit in. also, the editor cut a few other things that we really, really enjoyed, so we snuck them back in in the end notes. it didn't count toward our page count. read the end notes. they are actually pretty interesting. there are stories interwoven in there. >> i think that's probably my favorite. you have to be really disciplined if you are trying to move the story forward. the rule of thumb for a writer is if you can excise a story and pull it completely out without interrupting the rest of the narrative, you should probably cut it. but it's really painful because you're like oh, but we wrote that so beautifully. that's kind of a drag. did you want to ask your question at the microphone? okay. [ inaudible question ] >> three and a half miles, is that correct? >> where she was found? >> yeah. just under four. 18,000. yeah. 18,000 feet.
>> great book. congratulations to my classmate, bill tody, for everything he did. you kind of skipped to secretary of the navy didn't do anything about it. mcvay had a lot of contemporaries, became chief naval operations c.o., burke, mcdonald. did any of them ever want to take this on, or why did none of them want to take this on? seems like somebody should have, before bill took it on. somebody should have taken this on. >> that's not information that we ever came across but you're exactly right. the secretary of the navy and others, we don't really know. do you have any thoughts on that? ...
admiral king with a bullet point list of who should be held accountable. the navy did not do so. thank you very much. jim will be appear off to the right if you want to get a card for him. thank you very much. book tv is on twitter and facebook and we want to hear from you. tweet us. or post a comment on her facebook page.