Honoring WWII Veterans: Edgar Harrell, USMC

What: Honoring WWII Veterans: Edgar Harrell, USMC

The following is an excerpt from an article written for our local paper on the event:

What is a “hero”?  “….A person who has wittingly put himself in grave physical jeopardy for the benefit of another.  Heroes are people who overcome evil by doing good at great personal risk.  Through self-sacrifice, fortitude and action–whether they succeed or fail–heroes provide a moral and ethical framework–and inspiration–for the rest of us.”  [Oliver L. North Lt Col USMC (Ret.) — about Edgar Harrell].  His faith is a testament to the Marine Corps motto:  Semper Fidelis — Latin for “Always Faithful”.

On the night of July 30, 1945, just weeks before the end of WWII, a Japanese submarine launched a spread of torpedoes at the USS Indianapolis.    Two of the torpedoes hit their mark sending the battle-scarred ship to the bottom of the sea in about 12 minutes.  Only about 900 of the 1,196 men aboard made it into the cold, oil-slick water of the Philippine Sea.  Only 317 made it out alive after 5 horrific days in the shark-infested waters, having suffered from salt-water poisoning, hypothermia, and dehydration.

On the afternoon of October 5, we were privileged to meet one of these survivors.  There are only about 30 left.  Edgar Harrell, a member of the ship’s Marine Detachment shared his tale of perseverance, self-sacrifice, courage, and faith.  His shared a gripping story of men tested beyond anything they thought possible — of their response of bravery, endurance, and faith in the face of fear and overwhelming despair.

In wanting to honor him on that Saturday, we used 1940’s decorations, had people dress in ’40’s clothing (including young men in uniforms from all branches of the service), and used a 1944 military jeep as a speaking platform.  We were honored to have men from Perry County DAV and Veteran’s Association “present the colors” at the beginning of the ceremony.  Richard Cobern, the WWII vet from Linden that we honored last year was also in attendance.  There were plenty of period songs, including the Marine hymn.  After Mr. Harrell gave his testimony, we shared a pitch-in meal under an army tent.  The meal was followed by an informative lecture entitled “Lessons from WWII“ by David Botkin.

Please visit Mr. Harrell’s website to find more about him or to purchase his book: HTTP://WWW.INDYSURVIVOR.COM.

Click here to listen to David Botkin’s lecture called Lessons from WWII

Who: Edgar Harrell & David Botkin


One Comment

  1. barbara james

    some of the greatest pictures i have ever seen, so many dedicated Americans showing their loyalty to their land and their countrymen .i notice many wars were depicted in the dress , it was awesome to see.tour presentation was awesome a why didn’t i know that , but you did great the photos are great and thank you for the past and present and yes the future patriots

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