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Authors of 'Indianapolis' to speak at Skanta Monday

BY SHARON BARDONNER - sbardonner@ftimes.com

The most tragic U.S. military mishap was the loss of the USS Indianapolis to a Japanese torpedo. Its story is told in meticulous detail in Simon & Schuster’s brand new publication, “Indianapolis – The True Story of the Worst Sea Disaster in U.S. Naval History and the Fifty-Year Fight to Exonerate an Innocent Man.”

The retelling of the events surrounding the sinking of the Indianapolis is told in meticulous detail by authors Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic, who will give a presentation at the Frankfort Community Public Library on July 23 at 6 p.m.

The story of the Indianapolis features a real-life hero from Frankfort – Lt. Adrian Marks – who defied Navy rules to land his PBY5A Catalina seaplane on open water to rescue as many of the Indianapolis survivors as possible.

Fifty-six of the sailors on the USS Indianapolis were rescued by Marks and his crew, and for his bravery his image is featured as one of the most prominent on the mural on the north side of Veterans Park in Frankfort.

Vincent is a U.S. Navy veteran and No. 1 New York Times Best Selling author, and Vladic is a National Geographic historian who is one of the leading experts on the USS Indianapolis. According to the publisher, many are familiar with the history of the USS Indianapolis, but Vincent and Vladic’s book is the first comprehensive account of the worst sea disaster in United States naval history has been told.

Their book is based on years of original research and extensive interviews with 107 survivors. Notably, it includes the five-decade fight to exonerate Captain Charles McVay III, who was wrongfully court martialed for the incident.

Vincent and Vladic not only researched all of the events surrounding the ship’s sinking, but over the last 17 years they also cultivated survivor relationships, according to the publisher’s release.

“Vincent and Vladic are able to take the reader into the action like never before. They give a visceral, heart-rending, moment-by-moment account of the chaos on board the sinking ship and the first moments of shock as the crew plunge into the sea. They reveal the untold stories of the crew left adrift for five days in the Philippine Sea, as terror and hunger morph into delusion and desperation, as well as those of the heroic rescuers, many of whom were only teenagers,” says the release.

“Vincent and Vladic also chronicle the top-secret mission by an Army spy to shepherd the core of the first atomic bomb, Little Boy, aboard theIndianapolis; and the hidden history of the Top Secret ULTRA program that could have saved the ship.”

The account of McVay’s court martial and exoneration includes what Simon & Schuster describes as “a captivating courtroom drama that weaves through generations of American presidents, from Harry Truman to George W. Bush, and forever entwines the lives of three captains – McVay, whose life and career are never the same after the scandal; Mochitsura Hashimoto, the Japanese sub commander who sinks Indianapolis but later joins the battle to exonerate McVay; and William Toti, the captain of the modern-day submarine Indianapolis, who helps the survivors fight to vindicate their captain.”

The first 10 guests in attendance at the presentation with Vincent and Vladic will receive a free copy of the book, courtesy of the Friends of the Frankfort Library. This event is free and open to the public.

Additional copies of their book will be available for purchase.