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Book details
  • Genre:HISTORY
  • SubGenre:Military / World War II
  • Language:English
  • Pages:324
  • eBook ISBN:9798350959673
  • Paperback ISBN:9781667894263

Heroes in the Shadows

The Untold Story of the African-American Sailors Aboard USS Indianapolis (CA-35)

by Jane Gwinn Goodall , Janice Alston, Arlene Taylor, Ernestine Peete, Jacqueline Dugan and Jeanette Pitts

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Finally, after nearly eight decades of obscurity, this powerful book, Heroes in the Shadows, delivers a unique and long overdue acknowledgement of the courageous black American men who served on the final sailing crew of one of the most famous ships in WWII.

Shortly after successfully completing one of the most important military endeavors in modern history, that of delivering the top-secret components of the atomic bomb in July 1945, the USS Indianapolis was torpedoed and tragically sunk in a matter of minutes. For the next 5 nights and 4 days, the men struggled to survive in the open sea until they were miraculously spotted and rescued. Dubbed the worst sea disaster in U.S. naval history, 3 out of every 4 crew members were lost. Of the 1,195 men, 879 perished, and only 316 survived. There were no African Americans among the survivors.

This book is a tribute to the contributions of these young sailors. Through extensive research, Heroes in the Shadows poignantly brings to these men to life. The book came about through the efforts of the USS Indianapolis (CA-35) Legacy Organization, a journey that united the daughter of the pilot who spotted the survivors with family members of three of these brave men who were lost-at-sea.

This powerful and moving book pays tribute to the heroic young black sailors who perished in the worst sea disaster in U.S. Naval History, and whose service and sacrifice has long been overlooked. While much has been written about the tragedy of the USS Indianapolis CA-35, "Heroes in the Shadows" sheds light on the untold stories of the African American crew members who played an integral role in the ship's final mission. As one of the most well-recognized ships of World War II, USS Indianapolis earned ten Battle Stars from February 1942 to March 1945 as the flagship of the Fifth Fleet. Its final mission was highly classified and led to the end of the war, with the ship delivering the top-secret fissionable components of the world's first atomic bomb, "Little Boy". Tragically, on 30 July 1945, a Japanese submarine sank the ship in just twelve minutes, with 879 men perishing and only 316 surviving the ordeal. This book invites you to learn more about these heroic men and their place in history as they are finally lifted out of the shadows and honored for their service and sacrifice as men of USS Indianapolis (CA-35).
About the author
Jane Gwinn Goodall is the daughter of W.C. Gwinn, the Ventura PV-1 pilot who first spotted and initiated the rescue of USS Indianapolis (CA-35) survivors. Growing up with the story of the historic ship, Jane has been actively involved in projects related to its legacy since 2008. As Chair of the USS Indianapolis/Gwinn "Angel" Scholarship Endowment Fund and a founding member of the non-profit USS Indianapolis (CA-35) Legacy Organization, Jane has served in various roles to promote and perpetuate the story of the ship and her crew. Her dedication has been recognized by the survivors' organization, which named her father an Honorary Survivor in 1960 and granted Jane the same honor in 2018. To honor the 75th anniversary of the sinking and tragic loss of nearly three quarters of the ship's crew, Jane co-authored a commemorative book for the Legacy Organization in 2020. The book illustrated the long and distinguished history of naval service and focused on the lives of the sailors and officers who made USS Indianapolis (CA-35) great. It included a 60-page personalization of the final sailing list, representing each of the names of the 1,195 men with an image and brief biographical information. During the research process, Jane discovered the limitations placed on black sailors in the 1940s and the difficulty in finding even basic biographical information on the men who held job titles such as Stewards, Steward's Mates, and Cooks. This realization stirred an emotional response, and Jane vowed to dig deeper. She assembled an ad hoc committee including members of three of the Steward's Mates families and led the group over a two and one-half year process to bring these men out of the shadows. Through her work, Jane has ensured that the story of USS Indianapolis (CA-35) and the bravery and sacrifice of her crew will be remembered.