I just read your post.... and the episode about the half-eaten sailor found in a life jacket did actually happen. It is a true account.
Robert P. Gause, QM1, (quartermaster, navigator and survivor off the Indy), was the one who discovered the dead sailor while trying to wake him one morning, thinking the sailor had dosed off. The sailor's face was slapping in the water as the waves bobbed him about. Gause was concerned the fellow might drown in his sleep, something that happened on occasion. So, Gause swam over to wake him. The grim discovery was as Quint described. In fact, Gause was a friend of the sailor, but opted to not disclose his name, because he knew the sailor's parents and did not want to deepen the family's grief over the gruesome loss of their son. It was an episode among many the quartermaster never got over. As far as Quint identifying the sailor in the movie as, "Herbie Robinson from Cleveland, a baseball player and Boatswain's mate," there wasn't a crew member aboard the Indy by that name and rank. So, while not everything Quint said about the sailor was verbatim to Gauses' story, the episode in general, as told by Quint, was accurate.
I know of four publications where you can find Gause's accounts. (1) Thomas Helm/Sharks! Unpredictable Killer of the Sea, published in 1961 by Collier Books, NY, pg. 84-87. (2) Thomas Helm/Ordeal by Sea: The Tragedy of the U.S.S. Indianapolis, published in the 1963, by Dodd, Mead and Company. Gause suspects the movie writers borrowed his story from Helms' books, because it is identical to the story he shared with Helm during an interview for the books. However, the whole "USS Indianapolis" persona associated with Quint was never in the original novel the movie was based on. It seems it was added to enhance Quint's character for the movie, to give him a reason for loathing sharks. As opposed to script writers merely making the scene up, the tragedy of the USS Indianapolis was a natural go to, and Helms' book, Ordeal by Sea, was one of the first best sellers to feature the Indy story. (3) Thirdly, Dr. Lewis Haynes, the ship's doctor, recounts a generalized account of the episode on page 167 of Doug Stanton's best seller, In Harm's Way. He and Gause drifted in the same group. In fact, Dr. Haynes goes on to talk about Gause after referencing the event. (4) And the most recent publication is a Kindle ebook, just released this year (2014), titled, UNSINKABLE, which details the full account of Robert P. Gause, QM1. I authored the ebook and knew Bob Gause personally, he was our own WWII hometown hero. A great man and Christian, with an amazing story. He shares the account of the half eaten sailor along with many other lesser known unpublished episodes that happened in the Pacific while adrift for five days. Bob spoke across the country for years after, telling about his experience off the Indy. The story of the half eaten sailor was always part of his presentation. I have recordings of several such talks. I also had the privilege of interviewing Bob on three different occasions. Like many of the great heroes off the Indy, Bob Gause is no longer with us. He went home to be with the Lord in 2008, at the age of 87 years old. You can purchase his story on Amazon.com. For additional questions/information email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
I hope some of this has been helpful to clear up the myth about a true story,
Jill Noblit MacGregor
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