tv Lynn Vincent Sara Vladic Indianapolis CSPAN September 4, 2018 6:04am-7:05am EDT
we want to start off tonight by recognizing some people in the room. is there anyone here who doesn't know anything about the indianapolis story. so everybody has pretty general idea. i like to start off by acknowledging some people in the room. first, would you please stand if you are u.s. armed forces veteran. [applause]. thank you. now, please stand if you are in any way associated with that u.s. as -- usss member. so we are so blessed to have with us this evening mr. jim belcher and the white polo shirt
with the fabulous stars on his sleeves. he is a son of one of the indianapolis survivors. bill was the last captain of the usss indianapolis. bill was integral in helping achieve the exoneration of captain mcveigh. were really thankful to have those people with us. who here has heard from the indianapolis.
with the documentary. it was sunk at the end of world war ii. there was very little about it. i went to the library. and from what i did learn i wanted to make a movie about it. by the time i turn 21. nobody have made it. and this was 2001. that was not out yet. it wasn't familiar with the other books.
it's very easy to do. i found the survivors organization. i showed up in all my heroes were there. i was scared to talk to anyone. and just got to sit there and observe. they invited me back. i got to know them and their families. in a couple years past. and they took me to a denny's. very nice. it could clearly take a couple years to do.
and started doing that in 2005. in 17 years later here we are. seventeen years from 2001. we wrote the screenplay. and took it to a major network. this is a fantastic. but it needs to be based on a book. and i have no idea how to write a book. i ask a family and friends. anybody know any authors. how do you write a book. and my mother-in-law actually threw her book club have fairly recently had lynn come speak about her book. she set up the connection and i got to e-mail her. i set out to e-mail lynn and she is a best-selling author.
has written heaven is for real new york times number one. and then there's me. i gotta do it. i reached out to lynn. and that's kind of where the next step of the story takes place. what they didn't know when they reach out to me was that i'm a navy veteran and she also didn't know i was in investigated journalists for about 11 years before i transitioned to books. and she also didn't know one very important thing in addition which is that i had been praying to write an iconic world war ii story. i don't mean like hoping and praying i meant literally praying. god have provided in that way before. i have prayed to write special operations story.
i get my kicks vicariously through that. behind my computer screen going and doing all of these crazy things. it would have a written a story about this and in any special operations guide god permit provided at the commanding officer. i have a history of this. i also written a book about heavy weapons company and so now i wanted to tackle world war ii. i asked god to provide that and send me. i get this e-mail from this young lady. she wants is advice. i don't want to jump all over her like a primo wrestler.
i manipulated her and has been an incredible partnership a lot of times were ask who does what how do we do this. that's not it at all. we funded this partnership. we both head our strengths in the story. and together we were able to weave the narrative and to do the research there's that feedback. we were able to weave this narrative together with our strengths. to go into the major historians and the public figures of world war ii into going to the bigger picture of the story of the
indianapolis. and with my relationship with the survivors and doing all of the interviews over the years and lynn came into that as well. that brought the personalized stories there are other fantastic books out there but they didn't had 17 years to put into a book. together i think it worked out so well. it became an important incredible partnership. we found a way to research and use that as a excuse to eat our way through the eastern seaboard. and so, it's really been a blessing and with the families and everyone involved. it helped us to build an incredible book that we could not had done neither one of us could have done on our own. and then another question another question that we get asked a lot. there are some wonderful books on indianapolis three in
particular come to mind. i don't know how many of you said in cnn's sentence book in harm's way. and then in 1959. there was another book called a being in ship. it was an associate news editor for the associated press. and so each book one of these books has a little bit of a different character. in 1950s was first to realize that this grave injustice had been done to captain mcveigh in his view. on and he didn't spend very much time in the water with the men than in 1990 there was some more information that was declassified. and they were able to reveal more of the story. and then they really spent about 80% of the time in the water.
he was really the first person to interview. he told me he interviewed over 80 survival stories. we wanted to pull back the lens we wanted to elevate indianapolis above a sinking story. for decades it had been known as a sinking story. there's probably one word that comes to mind. for so many people within indianapolis story. the ship in her legacy have been reduced to a shark story. what a lot of people didn't know was the fact that she was the fifth flagship. he was the fifth commander. much of the conflict was strategized implant from the end
of indianapolis. we also wanted to remind people of her tenure she was at the conflict of the mariana. many battles, and so all of these things have become iconic just helpful names in american history. and indianapolis was at the forefront of that. another thing we really wanted to do was for the first time tell the details of the transport of the atomic bomb. and every other account that i have read that transport was reduced to a line or maybe a paragraph at the most and we were really fortunate to come across the private papers of a man name robert furman. he was an army major. he was the have of intelligence. and when it came time to transport the materials for the
bomb that was later dropped on hiroshima. in the file at the library of congress. he have the tight written notes. there was a nose pad when he was on the ship and he was transporting the bomb. he was taking notes. and i was holding it sane zero my gosh. this was right next than the components. its artifact that i'm holding in my hand. all of these papers enabled us to tell for the first time the details of the transport and not only that but the relationship with the sailors. another part of it was really bringing the people in the story to life.
we have the great privilege of getting to know these men. and telling of the story. we wanted you all to know who these men were. the second time surviving a sinking officer. the young man who had just come from nebraska. the biggest thing he have seen in his life was a tractor. he's never seen a body of water. what's it like for him to go to war. they are generally running in the fleet. we wanted you to be in their shoes. the relationships were have we were able to bring those voices to life. i don't know that they have this opportunity getting to know them as well. and to tell their story. so really, it's more of a personal account of that experience and as much as you can allows you to step into world war ii for what it was
like for these young men at this time. in addition to this. it was a miraculous story that took place. during the rescue. by the time you rescued they are incoherent. their breath away. they came and told the story of that last. of them in the water. one of the best stories is that lieutenant adrian marx.
a pilot and a lawyer. in a lawyer from indiana. he was the third plane on site. he looked down and he's seen men being attacked by sharks. the peril of that the men are facing. we have to do something. he takes this and against protocol he lands and these are this is not an easy landing. he is risking his self and his crew to do this. and he lands. the plane well never fly again. he is able to save 53 lives. he has wrapping them with parachutes to keep them secure. the closest land is 280 miles per away. as 12 hours for the closest one
to arrive. they are dying very quickly. we are able to tell this rescue account. in those heroes again. who are pulling these men out of the water. in the great story is peter brennan telling about he pulls up and we don't know that they are americans or japanese. they are pulling up it has to transfer the oil. they are covered. you can only see the eyes. and they have the revolver drawn. who are you and what ship are you friend -- what ship are you from. he then definitely knew that these were americans.
i love the story of adrian marx and his courage. the story goes on from there. the only 316 of the crew of 1195 men. they went into the water alive. if you don't have that. you might wonder where and how are they in the water for five nights and four days. why did when anybody know that they were missing. it is what they brought into the american dialect. it was known as the perfect storm. the perfect storm of circumstances doomed so many of those men. more than 800. of those men. what happened was the first
place the navy did not let the crew know that they have ultra intelligence that there was a team of four japanese attack steps that were headed down. this is called the team on group. that's what the intelligence people were called. the musicians knew. they had one estimated as a position. six days before indianapolis was sunk. the place where the intelligence people have pegged. it was just a few miles off from where i was sunk. they have i58 sent to the their
map also. two transition in the navy did not had this intelligence. some people have said that was the most highly classified intelligence of the war. data very closely guarded restrictions on who had access to this intelligence. as we all know. and as intelligence officers later wrote. intelligence is useless if it doesn't get out to the men in the fleet. what they would do. ever since breaking the code as they would sanitize it. from guam to the philippines. it was considered the boring backwater of the war. perhaps there was a little bit of complacency.
and as many of you in the room know it did not have sonar and she did not had underwater detection of any kind. they'd always send the destroyer with ship of this type. it was considered safe. then when the commander struck indianapolis with two torpedoes it hung on for just a little while. both radioshack's work essentially rendered useless. as a former air traffic controller i know about something we call a fight --dash make -- flight followings.
you begin to backtrack and find out what happened to the plane. there was an order in effect. in the order said that no arrival reports would be made for combatant ships. there was kind of a goofball lieutenant that said if i'm not supposed to make an arrival report i suppose i'm not supposed to make a non- arrival report either. this due of circumstances is what doomed these men to stay in the water for five days and four nights. what we wanted to do was go back and take a fresh look at all of the primary sources documenting all of this without being without being influenced by his seven decades the exoneration.
and when captain mcveigh. a court of inquiry was ordered. more so for the fact that it went unnoticed for so long. and all of these men perished. an august 13. the first court of inquiry was called. and it was given by the survivors. there were very few officers that survived. they interviewed as many as they could very quickly it turned into the realization that they would be held responsible. and the charges that they ultimately brought against him in december of 1945 was the first was the failure to call abandon ship. every man testified that they heard it. and acted accordingly.
but the second thing they brought against him was a failure to zigzag. he did give the order. that it was up to the officer in charge. it was a cloud covered night. and zigzagging was a maneuver that was intended to avoid the enemies' dumplings. this was normal strategy and ended up to be an operating procedure. and so the standard operating procedure is that they were well aware of what we were doing and
acted accordingly. so even when the commander hashimoto was called to testify against captain mick fay he would've sunk the ship either way. the interpreter did not say that exactly as he did. he knew enough english to understand that that's not what he said he did not know enough english and have the confidence he was essentially a prisoner. he was brought to testify. he didn't know. i'm sure he was very scared. and certainly intimidated to come in there and testify. so we didn't fight it. he told his family that they did not interpret it properly. it was only thing they could find him guilty for.
about the fact that he was called to the united states testify in the first place. the war have only been over for about four months and so when american citizens found out that a japanese officer was called to washington dc to testify and want to introduce someone else here in a second. when they found this out. the letters started pouring in. they started writing to admiral king. and there were ones that were included in this letter. how could you let this happen.
there was a huge national scandal. even on the floors of congress they had representatives who gave these fiery speeches on the house of four. it was was a big scandal at that time. there was another person in the room that i don't think he set up when we ask for people associated with the story. carl's father was on the prosecution team at his court martial. it's very possible that he was actually the lead prosecutor even though the captain was there. he was pretty junior at the time. he was a brilliant legal mind. and carl junior he was one of several occasions as we were writing this book that we were on deadline we were just about to turn in the story and then we get a phone call.
stop the presses. and so, we got this incredible call. and they have a container of notes from his father that said hey do you want to look through this. we said we didn't know. we were actually really excited about it. we actually called bill, bill lives close by. we were in san diego and carl was over here. stop the presses. we get photographs of crucial documents and were able to fill in a couple more pieces of this puzzle that have been a mystery
for 73 years at this point. that was one of several times it could happen. and only happened at the end. all of those things we prayed for, give us something new to make this book really the book that tells the whole indianapolis story. that was one example of how they came to be. and the way we wind up the book with two major movements of the story. one is the exoneration of captain mcveigh in the exoneration effort really occurred in three distinct phases. they have not seen each other for 15 years. they were not out there trying to get on the cover of people magazine.
they just picked up their lives and moved on. many of them really struggled. they struggled with alcoholism. struggled to hold a job. including in 1968 captain mcveigh. he had been persecuted by many of the families. many of the families of the lost row letters from 1945 to 1968 saint things like if it weren't for you i would be celebrating christmas with my son. he kept getting these letters and letters until finally in 1968 he ended his own life. prior to that he spoke at the first right -- survivors reunion. he was so worried that they blamed him but through a man they did not blame him. and they had thought that he had
been a victim of a legal injustice. they mounted an effort to clear his name. that continued as they would knock on the door of congress. they would write letters. his adult son wrote letters to president reagan and vice president bush. every time it came up empty. and then in the 1990s under scott was an 11-year-old boy who sought the indianapolis story on jobs and thought it was where they could make a good history. they teamed up with the legislator. and were going to be on there by the way. and really for the first time in decades brought tremendous attention to this case and then the third phase of that effort was handled by captain bill
tody. it's like a spy novel at the end of the movie. that is a second to the last major movement. then there is the finding of the ship. again the last minute. as most of you know on august 19 of 2017. the indianapolis was finally found it was an incredible movement -- moment for the family. but what was interesting was and i know what don't know what the first few words were. they found the ship.
we had three hours to notify the survivors anyone we could before winter press. it was a great privilege to be able to call the men and share this information with them. what was incredibly interesting to me was that there wasn't celebration. it was reference. there was a couple money want -- funny once. i just had the best day of his life. and put it in the sock. and put in a locker. his first reaction was can they go find my money stock. and then it was his anniversary. what a wonderful anniversary presents. it was the reference for their buddies. they lost their best friends. and finding this meant not over closure.
the final resting place for it. there were a lot of tears. it was an incredible moment to have that. and it also helped us with kind of piecing together what took place when the torpedo struck the ship. there had been a lot of mysteries surrounding it. he swore certain things happened. and i think he still passed away recently. his last words and what we learned through this. is that it was torpedoed and hit at the 12th frame. it kind of didn't pull it off all the way. it served as a writer. a kind of turned it towards them. when john came up from below a deck and saw this he saw the
part that was still attached. from his perspective it was still there. the last time he sought. this is very traumatic. they can't hear any orders being called. everyone have a perspective that what they saw. then two minutes earlier. they were interested in ape and able to piece that together. it was found a mile away from the rest of the ship. these bulkheads would have collapsed. they gave us a better idea of what happened in those 12 minutes. another story that i want to tell. with respect to the finding of the ship i failed to bring one
appear with me. one of the people that they notified the indianapolis have been found was a gentleman in nashville tennessee. it is the son of the lieutenant commander. when indy got hit from kamikaze. that was what we call the exciting event. if she have not been hit by that. she may have been that the tory is flagship. when they sailed back.
the lieutenant commander. it was a static. his wife was over seven months pregnant. they had rated -- waited longer than most couples have. really excited to see it. and then it was over and he have to go to mayer island. fast-forward one month. they speed to diamond had. but they also pick up get their first photos of little earl junior. in four days later the ship was sunk. one of the things that was interesting about lieutenant commander henry.
in this painting which i don't know if you can see it but you will see it up close a little bit later is called american eagle and the pacific. it was his artistic impressions of the american victory. this was painted aboard indianapolis in 1944 about a year before she was sunk. we wanted these for each of you tonight. whether you leave after the signing or somewhat sooner. now, we have a giveaway. let's see who has been paying
attention. we had three audiobooks. we need a helper so basically if the answer by first raising your hand. the first hand that goes up you can help us pick up. then you have to give that correct answer. she's taking off her jacket. they get this fabulous audiobook. bill can answer jim can't answer. anybody else.
now we'd like to open it up to you to see if you have any questions. and it areata has some instructions. well had time for two or three questions. please come up and use the mic. it's really nerve-racking to go up there. raise your hand if you have a question. it was the most interesting story also my favorite. mice favorite was the story of the motto.
ending the reign of japanese warships. it was really interesting to say that the americans masterfully sunk their ship. they were in off how will we did it. the editor cut a few other things that we really enjoyed. it didn't count towards our page count. i think it's probably my favorite. without interrupting the rest of the narrative. you should probably cut it.
but we wrote that so beautifully. did you want to ask your question. three and half miles is that correct. just under four. congratulations to mike classmates. for everything he did. you kind of escaped from king to crater. with the chief naval operation. did any of them want to take this on. seems like someone should have
done that. that is a information we ever came across but you are exactly right. we don't really know bill, do you have any thoughts. >> it was one of the best here. so as i'm saying it during the rescue. in his wife's cousin. and we did not take that on. to take it on at that time. they would have to ruin that. with the greatest history.
that was just something they didn't want to pay. and i was one of the things we found in our research. it had been speculated for decades that there were other senior officers who should've been held accountable not only correct but we found actual correspondence. and admiral king with a lapointe list of who should have been held accountable. and that ended the speculation. i know that we are out of time. thank you very much. jim will be up here off to the right if you want to get a card from him. you can do before after getting your book signed. thank you very much. [applause].
>> this is the latest one. actually, a book about eisenhower on his journey from soldier to statesman which i highly recommend, but this one by william hitchcock has gotten great reviews. i believe he's a uva professor. i haven't read it yet, but i can't give a review of it, but i'm excited to dig in. eisenhower remains endlessly fascinating. at the time of his presidency, despite being a war hero, at the time as a president he was perceived as sort of a figurehead executive, you know, the guy who played golf all the time while john foster dulles
ran the run and the world. well, there was this wave of revisionist eisenhower historian ism which actually showed the opposite was true. eisenhower, through very subtle and devious methods, deployed a hidden hand, and eisenhower has become one of our most popular presidents despite at the time people not appreciating him a that much. and i've always been drawn to the period roughly between 1946-1961 which ended the eisenhower presidency. and i think we're going through a similar period in national environment and thinking about how do we handle that, how do we modernize our defenses, how do we bring men and women of good faith from both parties together to talk what is america's role e world. and we manage to do it many time, particularly in the '50s under eisenhower. that's why i think that period offers enduring lessons for the
day. >> host: congressman, what resources do you use to figure out what you're going to read next? >> guest: my friends, who are constantly recommending books. i have concern my system is if i get a recommend or if i read something that suggests that a booking that's worth reading, and then in this job people send you books all the time which is crazy, but i welcome it. i'll sort of put it in a bucket on my amazon list, and i'll save it for later, and i'm not allowed to buy any books until i finish the ones that that i'm currently reading. the other lesson i heard from a friend who's an author, rune holliday, who wrote a great book about the lawsuit between hulk hogan and gawker, which was fascinating, you take your age and you subtract it from 100. so i'm 34, so it's 66, right? correct me on that. it's always dangerous to do math in public on c-span.
[laughter] and if the book hasn't captivated you by that page, then put it away. because, you know, the author has an obligation to you even if you're reading nonfiction to keep you interested and engaged. and if you're there and you've done the work of buying the book and sitting down to read it, i if you're 99, you've earned the right to ditch the book after page 1. >> host: congressman, give me two books, your favorite books of all time. >> guest: oh, great question. when you ask this question, which i ask people a lot, you're not allowed to say like the bible or something. those answers are a copout. so on the fiction side my favorite book is a book called the long good-bye, by raymond chandler. and this is sort of the prototypical noir fiction. i think he's a phenomenal
writer, and i have a weird tic. there's a great bookstore in the milwaukee bookstore, if i'm ever flying through, i have to buy a copy of a raymond chandler book. i think the long good-bye is the best of all his books. and then on the nonfiction side i think the best book written about the both the founding and what i find to be a really interesting book about leadership is a book called washington's crossing by david hackett fisher who's a phenomenal be historian. phenomenal be historian. and it takes washington's crossing of the delaware as really a jumping-off point for ad broader book not only about that event, but, you know, going into e dill about -- detail about what the different armies looked like and what you leave that book with is an appreciation for, how do i put this, contingency, right? so many things could have gone wrong both that night, but
throughout that campaign. washington was losing the war at that point. and it is remarkable the way it turned around. so i always recommend that book as a good one to give you an appreciation for how lucky we are to be americans, but also to learn some lessons both from washington's early mistakes but also what made him great as a leader. >> booktv wants to know what you're reading. send us your summer reading list on twitter, instagram or facebook. booktv on c-span2, television for serious readers. >> good morning, everyone. i'm chris goodwin with the mississippi department of around kentuckys and history. archives and history. this is our american history panel. it is sponsored by the