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Edgar Harrell, the last surviving Marine of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis during World War II, has died.
Harrell died Saturday, according to an organization devoted to preserving the ship’s legacy. He was 96.
The Facebook group said in a post that it was “shocked and saddened” by the news.
“Ed was beloved among the group, and traveled the world sharing the story of his ship and shipmates,” the group wrote. “He joined the crew as a sea-going marine in 1944, meaning he was one of the best of the best. During his time aboard ship, he helped guard components of the atomic bomb. After the torpedoing, he was a hero amongst his shipmates.”
“Of course, we’ll miss his passionate telling of the rescue story, and how he felt the Lord’s comfort throughout the ordeal,” the post added. “With the passing of James Smith earlier this week, and now Edgar, there are only [five] living survivors. Let’s all do what we can to keep their Legacies alive.”
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Harrell, with his son David Harrell, published a book about his experiences titled “Out of the Depths” in 2005.
“A Marine survivor describes swimming for five days in shark infested and carnage filled waters in the greatest catastrophe at sea in the history of the U.S. Navy,” the book’s description reads.
In 2020, Harrell and the seven other surviving members of the USS Indianapolis crew received the Congressional Gold Medal on the 75th annivesary of the ship’s sinking.
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Just days after delivering its secret cargo to the island of Tinian in July 1945, the Indianapolis was struck by Japanese torpedoes on July 30, 1945. Nine hundred men went into the ocean — only 316 survived, according to the National World War II Museum. A PBY flying boat and the USS Cecil Doyle rescued survivors.
“The Indianapolis disaster remains one of the worst — and most controversial — tragedies in US Navy history,” according to the museum.
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