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Post Info TOPIC: "Shadow Of The Indianapolis": My Short Story About Captain McVay


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"Shadow Of The Indianapolis": My Short Story About Captain McVay

In 1995, when I was fifteen, I read my first book on the Indianapolis, Dan Kurzman's Fatal Voyage: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis. By the time I turned the last page of his book, I was both deeply moved by McVay's fate and speechless with rage over how he was made the scapegoat for the tragedy. Alas, I did not lend my voice to the campaign led by Hunter Scott to finally clear McVay's name. Personal reasons and other matters got underfoot, and I was barely able to keep track of Hunter's progress, much less lend any assistance by contacting my Congressional representatives.  I have long wanted to do something to honor McVay, and that desire planted the seeds of my recently published short story"Shadow of the Indianapolis."

My short story captures not only Captain Charles Butler McVay's emotional struggle after the sinking but also transports readers to the night the Indianapolis went down.  One of the things I want to do as an author is write stories that bring slices of history to life because I am driven by a desire to know what it felt like to be there. (Michael Shaara, author of my favorite novel, The Killer Angels, a work focusing on the American Civil War as a whole and the battle of Gettysburg in particular, wrote the novel for the same reason.)  McVay may now be a person in an old photograph, but this does not make him less human.  He was as human as you or me, and suffered unfairly for a tragedy whose responsibility rested on the shoulders of another naval officer who escaped any consequences for his blunder: Captain Oliver Naquin.

"Shadow of the Indianapolis" not only was accepted for the debut issue of The Remnant Leaf, it also was "The Editor's Choice" for fiction (though I would like to stress that the only "fiction" in my story is reconstructions based upon in-depth research). The story can be read at:


 I did my utmost to "get it right" in my story, and that any errors knowledgeable readers may detect were ones that slipped in by accident, not because I did not know any better.

I would like to close by saying, thank you, Captain McVay, for your service to my country! And my thanks also to your gallant crew for their service to my country.

-Tony Held



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