My homeschooling group did a biography night where you do boards and models on a person in history. I decided to do Giles McCoy. Below is the report I read in front of everyone. I also had several pictures, a lego model of the Indy, and put all my letters from the survivors that I wrote to into a 3 ring binder. Also, I got a US uniform jacket that looked almost from that time period and was able to get things to look almost like a US Marine from WWII.
Giles McCoy was born on March, 30 1926 in St. LouisMissouri.He entered WWII at the age of 17 and was a Marine.Under law, he had to be 18 in order to register but he could join legally with his parents signature.His mother reluctantly signed for him.It was 1944 when he joined.He fought on PeleliuIsland and even fought after contracting malaria.He was a part of what is known as Operation Stalemate.He and other marines were firing but the Japanese kept coming, bayonets on their guns.No matter how many times they shot, the Japanese kept coming.He was one of the few that made it out of there alive.The next battle was the Pacific Theatre.It was intense, going through several stages of the battle.After these two battles, he was assigned to the U.S.S. Indianapolis.He went down to San Francisco.When he rounded the corner, his first thought was, Now thats a ship!.The Indy as it was nicknamed, towered 133 feet above the sea, and was 610 feet long (which is as long as 2 football fields.Afterwards, he on board the Indy fought in the battle of Iwo Jima.He would shoot the gun in the turret, and could remember seeing planes turn into fireballs or see them dropping into the sea.He was doing so, when he saw an object. It came down towards them.In a split second, he realized that it was a Japanese suicide plane.He dropped to the deck as the plane dropped a bomb and then crashed into the ship.The bomb went through 9 decks, and the plane lodged itself into the decks.The impact killed 9 men and wounded 29.The mens immediate reaction was to dislodge the plane and push it overboard for fear the engine would catch fire.They were able to successfully push the plane overboard and then the Indy limped under her own power across the Pacific Ocean under her own power.The Indy spent 3 months in dock being repaired in San Francisco.That is where they got more men.The ship was almost ready to return to war.McCoy had radioed for his mother, father, and girlfriend to come.However, they had to leave suddenly.Charles McVay was in command.McCoy didnt know what was so important that they had to leave so early, but it had to be important.They loaded a crate, sealed and barred into the ship which McCoy was to guard while on duty in the Cargo Hold.They left San Francisco, and sailed towards the Island of Tinian.There, they lifted the crate off the ship onto a truck, and it drove away.They wondered what was in the mysterious crate, but it was enough to know that their mission was complete.The Indy next went to Guam.There, they were ordered by Admiral Spruance and Admiral Nimitz to go to the Isle of Leyte, and report to Vice Admiral Oldendorf for gunnery practice. The message was sent, but the message didnt reach Oldendorf.Instead, it was kept from him due to his pressing matters, and they were going to tell him later.In other words, Oldendorf wasnt expecting them.The Indianapolis had several orders.One was to travel zigzagging by day, and it would be up to Captain McVay at night to decide what he wanted to do.At night, all lights were out and the men couldnt even light cigarettes for fear that the Japanese submarines might see them.They were not only traveling through enemy waters, but they were also traveling without an escort which usually was supposed to happen when a ship was traveling in enemy waters.They were two nights out at sea and it was July 30, 1945.The Indy was going at a speed of 34-35 knots.Giles McCoy was on guard below the fantail, guarding the people in the brig which consisted of cooks caught drunk on duty.It was very hot.So hot, that McCoy could hardly breathe.He longed to go out for air, and to feel the salt spray in his face.His shift was almost over anyway.Suddenly, an explosion rocked the ship.Another deafening explosion came a few seconds after the first.He found himself in the twisted wreckage that had fallen, but managed to get out.He got several prisoners out of the wreckage.Then, a voice shouted down the hatch.Were going to have to close the hatch to prevent water from rising he said.Just a minute McCoy called.He continued a few more minutes and then the voice called down Were going to have to seal it now.Reluctantly, he went up the ladder.Approximately 9 men were still down there, shouting and pleading for him to come back.Then came the sickening thud, sealing them in their tomb.McCoy ran outside and saw a box of lifebelts.Luckily, there had been a shipment where they accidentally got 100 more than needed.McCoy strapped himself into one, and then passed them off.While McCoy was doing this, a SOS was being sent by a makeshift wireless machine since the main one was gone.Three messages were received.One was received and the operator reported it to his superior, but that superior was drunk.The other message was misinterpreted. The third was received, but dismissed as a bogus message sent by the Japanese to lure them into a trap.Meanwhile, the ship lurched and now was on its side.McCoy was holding onto a cable as men and boys dropped into the waters, black and thick with oil.Its now or never he thought.He pulled himself up, and walked down the side of the hull.He then jumped into the sea.When he hit the water, he was sucked down.He went so deep he thought that the pressure might burst his head.The oil burned his eyes and mouth.Just when he thought he could hold his breath any longer, a burst of air shot him to the surface.There he was alone, in the inky blackness.The Indianapolis was gone.He started swimming.He thought at first that he was the only survivor.Then, he saw one of the sailors.The sailor didnt have a lifebelt.Then, seeing a body with a lifebelt, he grabbed the body, took off the lifebelt, and let the body sink.He gave the lifebelt to the sailor.Then, he saw a life raft in the distance.Taking off his lifebelt, he took a huge gulp of air and dove down and then came up.He kept swimming although exhausted from his ordeal.Finally, he almost passed out when someone grabbed him by the hair and pulled him aboard.There were about 140 sailors in several life rafts.He rested.Then, he felt something at his side.His gun was still there on his belt.In the dark, he told the others to hold out their hands.He took the gun apart and put different pieces in their hands.He cleaned it using his clothes and a little water.He planned to use it as a signal for planes and boats that would possibly pass by.After putting it together, he pointed in the air and pulled the trigger.No sound came.They were alone in the water.As he drifted to sleep, he felt something bump the raft which he thought was a wave.Day came, and he saw his comrades clearly.Most were asleep, and therefore were wearing their night clothes.As the day dragged on, McCoy felt more bumps like the one he felt the night before.He looked down and saw every sailors worst fear.It was a shark.Sharks had come together, with the smell of blood and the dead sinking.The bumps intensified, but they felt safe.He inspected the rafts, and the water supply was not loaded nor was the food.They were stranded.The water around them was salt water with oil in it.If they drank enough of it, they would die within 2 hours.The next day, the sharks got braver.A blue shark actually stuck its nose through one of the loopholes in the bottom, and the men hit the shark and got it down.This was life.One survivor even named a Tiger Shark called Oscar because it wouldnt give up on attacking the boat.Just then, one man got delusional.His name was Felton Outland.He jumped overboard and started swimming out.McCoy jumped in despite the sharks and dragged him back on the raft.Outland did it several times before going to sleep.It was going to be a long night.Meanwhile, the American base on the Isle of Leyte marked the Indy off as late.Since so many ships were late and it caused so much paperwork, reporting an overdue ship was not required necessary.The next morning, McCoy noticed that men who had gone to sleep last night had disappeared.They were now 3 days out in the sea.There was no food, and no water.Painful salt water ulcers had formed on some of the men.Some were as smooth skinned as infants, having lost all their hair due to the salt water.They had gotten used to the sharks.McCoy a Roman Catholic, started reciting the rosary hoping that God would get them through this.Night came and then morning again.More men had disappeared.He looked around at the vast sea.Why arent they coming? he wondered.Planes would come over their heads, and not even notice them.Then, he noticed a small box.He opened it found a couple of milk tablets.He quickly ate one, but they just made his thirst worse.He decided not to share his discoveries with the others.Suddenly, he saw lights in the distance.He saw planes circling over an area and ships coming.Hold on boys McCoy said, theyll pick us up soon.Night came and they didnt come.McCoy resolved that they wouldnt come.Then, a planes spotlight shone on them.They were picked up later after 4 ½ days adrift at sea.Out of the 1,196 men and boys on the Indianapolis, 900 made it and only 321 were picked up.4 died within 5 days.The survivors including Giles McCoy and Felton Outland were pinned later with purple hearts by Admiral Spruance.As they were recovering, a man came in and announced that the war was over.They also found out that that crate contained the uranium for the very first Atomic Bomb used in war called Little Boy.It was in factm half the uranium known in the United States and worth $300,000,000. Little Boy was dropped on Hiroshima.Written on the bomb was, This is for the boys of the Indianapolis.Among the survivors, was Captain Charles McVay.He was court-martialed for neglecting to zigzag.In reality, it was so foggy that he ordered them to go straight and notify him if the fog cleared.Called to the courts were the 317 survivors, Admiral Nimitz, Vice Admiral Oldendorf, and Hashimoto whom was the captain of I-58, the submarine which sank the Indianapolis.All the survivors spoke for Captain McVay, and all said that zigzagging was not effective.The Navy still placed the blame on Captain McVay, even though it was the Navys fault.This affair still haunts the Pentagon.Giles McCoy spent the next year in the Marines until his enlistment expired in 1946.He went to college, and became a doctor.He lived quietly, until one day when a man came to the door in 1958.The man introduced himself as Felton Outland, the man whom McCoy had saved.Outland came to thank him.Then came the outpouring of memories between the two men.This affected McCoy so much, that he contacted other survivors.Then he organized a reunion.The survivors were at first outraged, because they didnt want to bring back bad memories.Despite this, many came to the first USS Indianapolis Survivors reunion in July of 1960.It was held in the namesake of their ship in Indianapolis, Indiana.The survivors included Captain McVay.That was the last time any of the survivors saw their Captain, for he committed suicide later that year.McCoy tried to get McVays sentence changed, but didnt get very far. He also tried successfully to get a memorial erected.McCoy continued as the president of the association, until his death on April 30, 2009.