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BRAZIL, IND. — A small city in western Indiana honored two of its natives who died in the World War II sinking of the USS Indianapolis.
The ceremony held Tuesday outside Brazil’s City Hall fell on the 68th anniversary of the ship being hit by Japanese torpedoes. Only 317 of the ship’s 1,196 crew members survived the sinking and four days of floating in shark-infested waters before being rescued.
Relatives of crew members Robert Lamb and Artie Miller and an honor guard gathered for the ceremony under a large American flag flying from a fire truck’s extended ladder.
Merry Miller Moon spurred the ceremony after researching about her uncle, Artie Miller, and finding that the sinking victims had never been honored in the city about 15 miles east of Terre Haute.
“Artie was my dad’s only brother and ever since I was a small child, my dad was sure to tell me and my siblings of the story of the USS Indianapolis,” Moon told the Tribune-Star of Terre Haute.
The ship was attacked while it was returning from a secret mission to deliver components for the atomic bomb later dropped on Hiroshima. The 1945 attack remains the Navy’s worst single at-sea loss of life.
Mayor Brian Wyndham said during the ceremony that it was a privilege to honor the sailors, The Brazil Times reported.
“We want to let you know that we are very proud to have these young men serve our country and make the ultimate sacrifice so we can enjoy the freedom we have today,” Wyndham said.
An annual reunion of the remaining ship survivors is to take place starting Thursday in Indianapolis, with a memorial service scheduled Sunday.
Moon said she hopes for plaques or a memorial in one of Brazil’s parks in honor of Lamb and Miller.
“I think it is important to keep their memory alive,” she said.