USS Indianapolis Found, Survivor Tells His Incredible Story: In today’s episode we talk with Edgar Harrell, a USS Indianapolis survivor. Learn his incredible story of how God’s providence kept him alive through shipwreck, shark attacks, and being stranded in the ocean for four and a half days. You wont want to miss this jaw dropping story, tune in now to learn more.

Air Date: 09/06/2017


Guests: Edgar Harrell, David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton


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Transcription note:  As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast.  However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers.  Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times.  We apologize in advance.

Faith And The Culture

Rick:

Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture, this is WallBuilders Live! Where we”€™re talking about today”€™s hottest topics on policy, faith, and the culture, all of it from a Biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective.

We’re here with David Barton, America’s premier historian and the founder of WallBuilders. And my name is Rick Green, I’m a former Texas state rep, national speaker, and author.

You can find out more about our ministry and the program at WallBuilders.com, that’s our main website. Lots of great resources there for you, for your family, for your Sunday School at your church, or your school, just a lot of great stuff on how to be a good citizen, the truth about the Founding of our country.

Our other website is WallBuildersLive.com, that’s our radio website. So there you can get a list of all of our stations across the country, you can also get archives of the last few months of programs, and some other resources there as well.

What Happened To The USS Indianapolis

David, one of the great privileges I think of our program is how we get to interview these veterans. We get World War II veterans, which are probably the neediest, I guess because it’s so cool to get their stories and it’s just amazing. But we also have Korean Vets, we have Vietnam Vets, we have Desert Storm Vets, we’ve had all kinds of people on the program.

Today, we’re going to get a repeat. We’re going to get one of our World War II vets that we had on, what was it? Two and a half or three years ago that we had  Edgar Harrell on?

David:

Three years ago.

Rick:

Three years ago. Even then we were just amazed at how sharp he was and how cool it was to get a firsthand account of the Indianapolis.

David:

Now they’ve got an update on it. This has been in the news over the last week or so and the Indianapolis- Let”€™s set the stage for this. The USS Indianapolis is the largest naval disaster in American history, it”€™s the largest loss of life that ever occurred.

It was the 30th of July 1945. Now, if you think about time, on the 6th of August 1945 we dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. On the 9th of August 1945, we dropped the bomb on Nagasaki. Then on the 14th of August 1945 Japan surrendered, World War II is at an end.

So, what we’re talking about here is on the 30th of July 1945, we’re talking one week before the first atomic bomb was dropped, the Indianapolis was actually carrying parts for the atomic bomb. It was delivering parts to where the plane was that was going to be dropping the atomic bomb.

So it has delivered the parts, it”€™s now on its way back, and it was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine. It sank so fast they never got a distress call off in the ship. It happened so fast, it started sinking so fast, that they were working so hard just to get the guys off the ship that nobody could get a call in on the radio. In 12 minutes, now we’re talking a Navy cruiser, I mean, that’s big stuff. That’s getting closer to a battleship size.

Rick:

And to go without a distress call, that doesn’t mean not only are you not going to have anybody there to help you as you’re getting off the ship, that means they don’t even know you sank, they don’t know where you are.

David:

They don’t know where you are, it was a secret mission because you have atomic bottom parts, so you’re off line anyway as far as that goes. And you’re going to be out there for a week of sailing or whatever, so you’re not going to really be missed if you don’t let them know where you are because they’re not expecting you, you’re silent out there. So we’re not expecting to hear anything, and it’s a big ship. It was essentially twelve hundred or eleven hundred ninety-six crewmen on the ship.

It went down so fast that 300 guys never made it above deck. Three hundred guys went down with the ship because it sank that fast. So you’ve got 900 that are up on top and 900 get in the rafts, get together, and try to hold themselves together. But as it turns out, they were in shark infested waters and the sharks were having a field day.

I remember three years ago when we talked to Edgar he talked about how a guy would be bobbing there beside him and he would  bob and go into the water and then when he came back up he’d be missing half his body, the leg is gone, or a head was gone, I mean the sharks were just- we talked to one of the guys that literally the sharks would jump up in the raft with them and they would take the paddles and beat the Sharks off and get them out of the raft.

So nine hundred guys are off the ship, but man, the shark attacks. It was just something you can’t imagine. Essentially nearly 600 of those guys died over the next four to five days.

Rick:

That made it off the ship, that survived the sinking of the ship.

David:

Yeah, 300 went down with the ship, 900 didn’t go down with the ship, but just under 600 of those guys were killed over the next four days. And Edgar Harrell is one of the 317 that survived.

At the time that we talked to him three years ago, there were 22 that were still left alive. And we talked to Glen Morgan who was another guy- we did an interview with him and he was on the ship and he was telling a story. Well, Glenn Morgan is now deceased. But the significance of all this is just in the last few days they found the Indianapolis.

They went looking for it, they thought they had some clues, they had it narrowed down to a 600 square mile region, imagine 600 square miles. And the ship is sunk at depth of over one mile deep and they’re searching 600 square miles of the ocean for a speck on the floor that’s over a mile deep and they found it.

Rick:

They actually found the remains of the Indianapolis. David, we”€™ve got take a quick break, when we come back, we”€™ll talk about that discovery and they will actually have Edgar Harrell with us later in the program as well. Survivor of the USS Indianapolis. Stay with us, you’re listening to WallBuilders Live.

Moment From American History

This is Tim Barton from WallBuilders with another moment in American history. America is a special and unique nation. The average length for a constitution in other countries is only 17 years. But we’ve had ours for over two centuries. Our 4 percent of the world’s population produces 24 percent of the world’s gross domestic product and every year we produce more inventions and technology than the other 96 percent of the world combined.

In 1831 Alexis de Tocqueville of France came to America, traveled the country, and in his famous book, “€œDemocracy in America”€ reported,  “€œThe position of the Americans is therefore quite exceptional. It may be believed that no Democratic people will ever be placed in a similar one.”€

This is the origin of the phrase “€œAmerican exceptionalism”€ and affirms that America is unique because of the distinctive ideas on which we’ve been based. Including in inalienable rights, individuals, and limited government, and the importance of religion, and morality. For more information about American exceptionalism go to WallBuilders.com.

How They Found The USS Indianapolis  

Rick:

Thanks for staying with us today on WallBuilders Live, welcome back. We’re still here with David Barton, you were just mentioning David, right before I went to the break, that actually just a few days ago they found the USS Indianapolis. So this is the worst naval disaster, as you were saying earlier, in American history, that incredible loss of life in a ship that they didn’t even know for sure where it went down, and they have found it.

I think from the stories I read, David, part of the reason they found it was they went in their research and found a report about one of the last sightings that caused them to look at a little bit in a different spot than where everybody had looked in the past.

David:

Yeah, and by the way, it was Paul Allen, he was a co-founder of Microsoft. He’s the one who’s funded this, and really worked on this, and worked on finding it. They did get the report that the last time another ship saw the ship where they were when they saw it. And it was still several days after that before the ship was sunk. But based on that they were able to narrow it down to 600 square miles. I mean, that is your needle in a haystack.

Rick:

They “€œnarrow”€ it down.

David:

“€œNarrow”€ it down to 600 square miles, so they found it. I mean, they have it. So there are pictures down a mile deep and it’s got the number on the side of the ship.

Rick:

The pictures are pretty amazing.

David:

It’s unbelievable. So here you’ve had Edgar that for these more than 60 years, actually 72 years since, nobody knew what happened to the ship. Seventy-two years later and now he’s still alive to hear what happened. I thought, “€œHow cool it would be to get him back on?”€ Because he was such an amazing story anyway. Now it’s down to only 18 of them are left alive right now. So we’re down to 18 and to hear his reaction, this is going to be cool.

Rick:

Edgar Harrell, a survivor of the USS Indianapolis, a former guest of WallBuilders Live, thrilled to have him back. He’ll be with us when we return, stay with us here on WallBuilders Live.

Constitution Alive

Have you ever wanted to learn more about the United States Constitution but just felt like, man, the classes are boring or it’s just that old language from 200 years ago or I don’t know where to start? People want to know. But it gets frustrating because you don’t know where to look for truth about the Constitution either.

Well, we’ve got a special program for you available now called Constitution Alive with David Barton and Rick Green. It’s actually a teaching done on the Constitution at Independence Hall in the very room where the Constitution was framed. We take you both to Philadelphia, the Cradle of Liberty and Independence Hall and to the WallBuilders”€™ library where David Barton brings the history to life to teach the original intent of our Founding Fathers.

We call it the QuickStart guide to the Constitution because in just a few hours through these videos you will learn the Citizen’s Guide to America’s Constitution.  You’ll learn what you need to do to help save our Constitutional Republic. It’s fun! It’s entertaining! And it’s going to inspire you to do your part to preserve freedom for future generations. It’s called Constitution Alive with David Barton and Rick Green. You can find out more information on our website now at WallBuilders.com.

Only A Few Survivors Of The USS Indianapolis Left

Rick:

Welcome back to WallBuilders Live, thanks for staying with us folks, so thrilled to have Edgar Harrell back, with a survivor of the USS Indianapolis. He also came and spoke at Patriot Academy a couple of years ago at our graduation dinner. It was such an honor, everyone absolutely enjoyed it. Mr. Harrell, great to have you back, sir.

Edgar:

It’s an honor to be invited back, thank you.

Rick:

Also, author of the book, “€œOut of the Depths”€ where you tell your story. I gotta tell you, when you shared your story with our audience at that at that dinner banquet it was so powerful and so moving, we just really enjoyed having you.

Edgar:

Well, thank you. I remember that so well, yes.

Rick:

I wonder what it’s like for you, after telling the story of the Indianapolis for so many years, and sharing that with others so that we can remember the sacrifice that was that was made, what is it like for you now that they have discovered the wreckage just a few days ago?

Edgar:

That wonderful news, I think. However, I have to consider, too, those who are the offspring of those lost at sea. There’s another thinking along those lines. But I am just so involved these days now that they’ve found the USS Indianapolis.

With calls to interview and with people that have heard me over the past 16 years now, to have my email, just call, and to give a word of thank you and encouragement. But just to think of the hearing that though, my thought, just to know that it has been located is great news. Yes, it brings some closure to this saga but it fails to change any outcome of the disaster, and the trauma, that was experienced, that it’s left with each of us.

Rick:

Yes. There were only 317 to survive out of eleven hundred ninety-six. You were one of a handful of Marines actually, that were on the ship that survived. Your story, you tell in the book, Out of the Depths, and folks that are listening, I really encourage you to go check out Mr. Harrell’s website at IndySurvivor.com. Have him come and speak. Are you still are you still out there speaking like you did for us two years ago?

Edgar:

I”€™m still out and even more so. I’d just like to say though, those 317 that survived, there’s only 18 still living today. Of the nine Marines of the thirty-five Marines that were aboard, there was only one, and I”€™m that last Marine survivor of the USS Indianapolis. And I am just booked, booked, booked with interviews and speaking all over the country. Literally, all over the country.

Telling The Story Of The USS Indianapolis

Rick:

What is it, do you think, that is the most important thing for you to communicate about your story to this generation today that hasn’t gone through the kind of sacrifice your generation did?

Edgar:

Well, maybe two things. From a spiritual standpoint, I have to say that I was just so fortunate that somehow, some way, that the mercy of the Lord that I know and serve somehow, someway, He enabled me to endure those four and a half days swimming with  those sharks from a group of some 80 that I was in *. When I was picked up at the end of four and a half days one other Navy Lieutenant from Texas, Charles McKissic, some close to you down there.

Rick:

Yes.

Edgar:

I can tell about those things, but likewise, I can tell of the disaster that those 880 that did not survive, those lost at sea, maybe some 300 aboard the Indianapolis, that we have found the burial place maybe of them now.

But it’s just a consolation just to hear, and know and to be able to tell of the providence of God, to bring me through such an ordeal and it’s a pleasure to be able to travel the country and tell the story of the largest casualty at sea and the history of the U.S. Navy, the sinking of the USS Indianapolis.

God”€™s Providence Through The Battle

Rick:

Mr. Harrell, many times when people go through a tragedy like that, their reaction is the opposite. Perhaps anger at God, or belief that there is no God. For you, how was it that that it cemented? Later in life how did you not become bitter? How did God move in you in that way where you have a very different response than what some have had.

Edgar:

Yes, and I can’t take any credit for the fact that I endured other than the fact that when I left that ship and what I was actually believing, praying, and asked the Lord to give me some assurance that I’m going to survive. Then to have a scripture come to mind from just a little Sunday School boy a few years before, “€œI’ll never leave you or forsake you.”€ Not audibly, but I knew. “€œPeace I give unto you not as the world give unto you, let not your hearts be troubled, don’t be afraid.”€ That was ringing in my ears.

I to say to the Lord, “€œYou’re speaking to my heart, I’m going to make it.”€ But then I wondered, wondered, wondered these next four and a half days when I would see a buddy next to me that had been gutted apart, and his torso is gone, then maybe he bumps into you and he leaves part of that residue of the decayed body on you, and you wear that, you know you wonder if you’re not going to be the next one. But then to look back on all of that, and it makes a different person out of you, as I lived my 93 years coming up in October.

Rick:

When is your birthday in October?

Edgar:

10/10/24.

Rick:

10/10, alright, well we’re going to be looking forward to wishing you a happy ninety-third. I would love to have you back again on the program. Before I let you go though, let me let me make sure I remember right. So when you guys came off of the ship, when the ship went down, it was less than 15 minutes, right?

Edgar:

Yeah, we say it was 12 minutes.

Rick:

Twelve minutes, ok so you guys are off the ship, goes down in 12 minutes. About 800 that possibly made it off the ship. Your group that you were floating with and kind of locked in with about 80 guys. By the third day, you were down to what did you say, 17?

Edgar:

Right.

Rick:

And then by the time you were rescued only you and one other guy.

Edgar:

That’s right. Now, there was a big story in those four and a half days though from the time that I left the ship until I was picked up with that one other individual. Now that is God’s Providence working in my life. I have a wonderful story to tell and that’s recorded in my book too.

Rick:

It’s a fantastic book folks, highly recommend it, Out of the Depths. I”€™ve got to tell you, Mr. Harrell, when we had you on a couple of years ago, so enjoyed the time with you, you and I got off the radio, and I said, “€œDo you speak?”€ And you said, “€œYeah, many times.”€ And you came down to Austin. That evening it was just so special and so memorable. Our Patriot Academy Grads are still talking about it today. I really encourage groups, they need to get a hold of you and get you in.

I know you’re probably full up but I’m going to tell them to go ask you anyway and see what’s opening on your schedule. We are just so excited that you’re still out there sharing your story and what a powerful testimony to God’s providence and his protection. Even the title of your book comes out of Psalms 130.

Edgar:

Right. My son after several years, he said, “€œDad, we”€™ve got to write your story.”€ And I said, “€œWell, I’ve got a story to tell.”€ And he did a wonderful job and they printed one book and then someone wanted to reprint it. They said it should be in every Christian Bookstore in America.

Rick:

That’s available at your website, IndySurvivor.com, right?

Edgar:

That’s right.

Rick:

Ok, IndySurvivor.com is the website. Mr. Edgar Harrell, so look forward to the next time we get to chat.

Edgar:

Thank you, Sir.

Rick:

Thank you for your time. Stay with us folks, will be right back with David and Tim Barton.

We Want To Hear Your Vet Story

Rick:

Hey, friends! If you have been listening to WallBuilders Live for very long at all, you know how much we respect our veterans and how appreciative we are of the sacrifice they make to make our freedoms possible. One of the ways that we love to honor those veterans is to tell their stories here on WallBuilders Live.  Once in awhile, we get an opportunity to interview veterans that have served on those front lines that have made incredible sacrifices have amazing stories that we want to share with the American people.

One of the very special things we get to do is interview World War II veterans. You’ve heard those interviews here on WallBuilders Live, from folks that were in the Band of Brothers, to folks like Edgar Harrell that survived the Indianapolis to so many other great stories you heard on WallBuilders Live.

You have friends and family that also served.  If you have World War II veterans in your family that you would like to have their story shared here on WallBuilders Live, please e-mail us at Radio@WallBuilders.com.  Give us a brief summary of the story and we’ll set up an interview. Thanks so much for sharing here on WallBuilders Live!

Hiding The Word Of God In Your Heart

Rick:

Thanks for staying with us here on WallBuilders Live, we’re back now with David Barton. A very, very, special thanks to Edgar Harrell for joining us today. Out of the Depths is the name of his book.  We’ll have his website again today at our at our website WallBuildersLive.com. Really encourage you to get it, just incredible.

David, right off the bat, as soon as I asked him what he would want people to remember, I don’t even know if he knew for sure that we were a faith based program. But the first thing out of his mouth was the testimony of what the Lord had done for him. That was amazing.

David:

It was interesting to me how he talked about how- because you said how come you didn’t turn against God and become an atheistic, etc? He said that he prayed and God brought a scripture to him out of the book of Hebrews. It was interesting that means he memorized that scripture when he was in Sunday school. He talked about how a Sunday School scripture came back, that’s how important scripture memorization is.

God can bring it back to your memory. That’s what he says about the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Jesus says that he’ll bring to your memory everything He”€™s told you. When you hide God’s word in your heart, Psalms 119 says, “€œHis word I hide in my heart.”€ When you do that, then God is able to bring back to you, and it give you that kind of assurance.

Over the next five days as he’s gone through everything. It goes from 900 down to 317 and his group it goes from 80 down to 2. So you look at that, I thought how profound that was. It’s just one of the things that passed by, but man, that would be an encouragement to people to memorize scriptures. Get scriptures and put them in your in your heart, let God bring them back, it will make such a difference.

Rick:

Sometimes, David, we think of Scripture not coming back void, in terms of how it will impact us and inform us. In this case, it literally comforted him in a way that we can’t even imagine. But it certainly did not come back void in this case.

Saying “€œProvidence”€ Apparently Means You’re A “€œDeist”€

David:

No, it did not come back void. Absolutely, right. He said, “€œIt’s an honor to tell the story of the Providence of God.”€ I’ve got to make a little question mark here, I really thought he was a Christian until he said that. Now I find out that he’s a deist? Really?

Rick:

I get what you are saying, because every time these liberals today, these progressives, they see a Founding Father saying, “€œThe providence of God,”€ they call them a deist as if that means they really weren’t Christians.

David:

That’s right, because that’s what they say about George Washington when he used the word, providence. “€œHe couldn’t be a Christian.”€ Oh wait a minute, George Washington, in many ways have the same tone as Edgar Harrell. Nobody is going to question Edgar Harrell. My Gosh.

Rick:

That’s right.

David:

“€œHe used the word providence, it must mean that he’s a deist.”€ Again, that’s how twisted these guys get. They’re looking for every way to denigrate faith. But Edgar, his faith is rock solid. You can hear at 93 years coming up in October, and he’s still traveling, still speaking to groups.

He didn’t know what kind of radio program we were per se, and there he goes off into faith and Bible verses that he memorized and what God showed him. It’s really good stuff to have a guy with that kind of perspective. I can’t tell you what a blessing is just to hear him tell his story.

As One Who Serves

Rick:

Oh, it”€™s just an incredible blessing to get to visit with him. I don’t think he would mind if I tell our audience David, but he came down after we had him on last time. When I asked him if he spoke, he came down and did that graduation ceremony at Patriot Academy, in that very moving ceremony where the veterans literally pass the torch to the to the young people. I try not tear up, cherish so much the video I have of him literally putting a medal on my daughter’s neck and ceremonially passing the torch to everybody.

But after that ceremony David, he wouldn’t even let us pay the honorarium. He said, “€œNo, this work is too important.”€ And gave it back and said, “€œI won’t take it.”€ That’s the kind of man we had on today.

David:

You know, the other thing when you asked him on, “€œWhat do you think about?”€ And he said, “€œI think not only about those 300, but I think about the children of those, and I think-“€ And he started talking about posterity. I thought, “€œThat’s a Founding Father perspective.”€ Because John Adams and the others talked about how important it was for posterity.

So here he is, I don’t know how much time he’s got left, but certainly 93 years God’s given him, and he’s still thinking about the next generation. How good and how wholesome that was to hear coming from him.

Boy, every one of us should think that way, if everyone one of us would think, “€œWhat am I leaving for the next generation?”€ Because you plan to be around long enough to have a family and have somebody come in after you. What are you doing right now that will make a difference for them?

This is a guy who did something for all of us with what he did. What they delivered there, that atomic bomb, that ended the war, it saved anywhere from 2 to 15 million lives depending on what accounts you read. It’s significant stuff that he did. And man, his faith is really really key. What a good guy.

USS Indianapolis Survivor And Other Veteran”€™s Stories

Rick:
His website is IndySurvivor.com, his book is called, Out of the Depths“€ based on that verse out of Psalms 130, check it out. You will be blessed, you will be very blessed. We also have a CD with not only the first interview we had with Edgar Harrell but also with a lot of other veterans, that’s available at our website today Wallbuilders.com. Or just go to WallBuildersLive.com and we”€™ll have an easy link for you. It’s called, Warrior Heroes by Land by Air by Sea.  It will bless your soul to listen to those interviews.

I would encourage you, if you like these veteran interviews send us an email and let us know that you’d like to have more of those. Also, help us make them possible, you can do donations and find out more information about that on our website as well about how to bless the ministry so the ministry can bless you as well. We really appreciate you listening day, special thanks to Edgar Harrell for joining us here on the program again, you’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live!