WWII and USS Indianapolis Survivor speaks to local church about experience

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

MADISON, Ala. -- Sunday morning, CrossPointe church in Madison heard from a special guest speaker. Edgar Harrell, USMC, is a World War II veteran with an amazing story.

Not too many people are familiar with the part Harrell and his shipmates played in World War II coming to a close

"I find that just so few people know about the Indianapolis," he said.

As a marine on board the USS Indianapolis, Harrell and the crew were tasked with an important mission, one that many of them didn't even know about until after they had dropped their cargo off.

"I was a Marine guard that guarded the components of 'Fat Man' and 'Little Boy', the two atomic bombs that would be dropped at Nagasaki and Hiroshima," he explained.

But soon after they had unloaded those parts, on the way to their next destination the ship was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine.

"The largest casualty at sea in the history of the U.S Navy, was the sinking of the Indianapolis," said Harrell.

Of the 1,197 crew on board, 880 of those didn't survive. And those that did encountered a harrowing experience waiting to be rescued.

"I swam with the sharks for four and half days," said Harrell. He made it out alive, one of only 317 survivors from the ship.

Harrell has spoken at churches like CrossPointe and other places, for a long time. But at 93-years-old he is just now starting to slow down.

"The invitations that I get, I just have to tell them that one of these days I know I've got to quit," he said.

And though it might not be in an official speaker capacity, Harrell said he'll continue to tell the story of the Indianapolis to anyone who wants to listen.