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Home Town Ephrata, PA
Last Address Litchfield, CT
Date of Passing Nov 06, 1968
Location of Interment Not Specified
Wall/Plot Coordinates Not Specified
Last Known Activity
RADM McVay is mostly known for his service as the Commanding Officer of the USS Indianapolis (CA-35). The USS Indianapolis received orders to carry parts and nuclear material to Tinian for use in the atomic bombs which were soon to be dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. After delivering the top secret cargo, the ship was en route to report for further duty off Okinawa. Early in the morning of July 30, 1945, she was attacked by the Japanese submarine I-58 under Commander Mochitsura Hashimoto. Six torpedoes were launched and the Indianapolis was hit twice, the first removing over forty feet of her bow, the second hitting the starboard side at frame forty (below the bridge). The Indianapolis immediately took a fifteen degree list, capsized and sank within 12 minutes. Of the crew of 1,196 men, 879 men died.
Capt. McVay was court-martialed for failing to zigzag. The conviction effectively ended McVay's career as he lost seniority, although the sentence was overturned by Secretary James Forrestal owing to McVay's bravery prior to the sinking, and McVay was finally promoted to rear admiral when he retired from the navy in 1949.
He served 29 years. McVay took his own life by shooting himself with his service pistol at his home in Litchfield, Connecticut, holding in his hand a toy sailor he had received as a boy for a good luck charm.
In October 2000, the United States Congress passed a resolution that McVay's record should reflect that "he is exonerated for the loss of the USS Indianapolis." In July 2001, Secretary of the Navy Gordon R. England ordered McVay's official Navy record purged of all wrongdoing.
Final disposition - Cremated, Ashes scattered at sea, Specifically: ashes scattered at Bayou Liberty near Slidell, LA.
McVay's ship, but not McVay himself, is mentioned in the 1975 blockbuster movie Jaws, in which the character of Quint is portrayed as a survivor of the incident.
In 1978, the events surrounding McVay's court-martial were dramatized in The Failure to ZigZag by playwright John B. Ferzacca. The 1991 made-for-television movie Mission of the Shark: The Saga of the U.S.S. Indianapolis depicts the ordeal of the men of the Indianapolis during her last voyage (with McVay portrayed by Stacy Keach), as does the 2016 film USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage (with McVay portrayed by Nicolas Cage). Also in 2016, USS Indianapolis: The Legacy was released. It is an in-depth film where the survivors tell the story of what really happened and they speak about the aftermath of the tragic event.