McVay, Charles Butler, III, RADM

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Last Rank
Rear Admiral Upper Half
Last Rating/NEC Group
Line Officer
Primary Unit
1946-1949, 8th Naval District
Service Years
1916 - 1949
Rear Admiral Upper Half
Rear Admiral Upper Half

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

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Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Michael Kohan (Mikey), ATCS to remember McVay, Charles Butler, III, RADM USN(Ret).

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Contact Info
Home Town
Ephrata, PA
Last Address
Litchfield, CT

Date of Passing
Nov 06, 1968
Location of Interment
Not Specified
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

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 Additional Information
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.
Other Comments:

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.
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 Unit Assignments/ Advancement Schools
US NavyUSS Maryland (BB-46)USS Sylph (PY-12)Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI)
USS Raleigh (CL-7)USS Cleveland (CL-55)Joint Forces Intelligence Command (JFIC), US Joint Forces Command (JFCOM)USS Indianapolis (CA-35)
Bureau of Naval Personnel (BUPERS)
  1920-1921, USS North Dakota (BB-29)
  1921-1923, USS Maryland (BB-46)
  1923-1924, USS Milwaukee (CL-5)
  1924-1925, Commander, Scouting Force, Pacific Fleet
  1925-1926, USS Burns (DM-11)
  1926-1927, USS Sylph (PY-12)
  1927-1929, USS Burns (DM-11)
  1930-1931, USS Ramsey (AG-98)
  1931-1935, Washington, DC, Naval Intelligence Support Center (NISC)
  1935-1938, USS Raleigh (CL-7)
  1938-1938, 16th Naval District
  1938-1939, USS Ellis (DD-154)
  1939-1939, USS Luzon (PR-7)
  1939-1940, Cavite Naval Base, Philipines
  1941-1942, USS Kaweah (AO-15)
  1942-1943, USS Cleveland (CL-55)
  1943-1944, Joint Forces Intelligence Command (JFIC), US Joint Forces Command (JFCOM)
  1944-1945, USS Indianapolis (CA-35)
  1945-1946, Bureau of Naval Personnel (BUPERS)
  1946-1949, 8th Naval District
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1942-1942 World War II/European-African-Middle Eastern Theater/Algeria-French Morocco Campaign (1942)
  1944-1944 Western Caroline Islands Operation/Battle of Peleliu
  1945-1945 World War II/Asiatic-Pacific Theater/Iwo Jima Operation
  1945-1945 World War II/Asiatic-Pacific Theater/Okinawa Gunto Operation
  1945-1945 World War II/Asiatic-Pacific Theater/Sinking of the USS Indianapolis (CA-35)
 Colleges Attended 
United States Naval Academy
  1916-1920, United States Naval Academy
 Other News, Events and Photographs
  Jun 07, 1922, Promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade
  Jun 30, 1935, Promoted to Lieutenant Commander
  Aug 01, 1939, Promoted to Commander
  Jun 18, 1942, Promoted to Captain
  Feb 07, 2013, General Photos
 Military Association Memberships
WWII Memorial National RegistryUnited States Navy Memorial
  2019, WWII Memorial National Registry
  2019, United States Navy Memorial - Assoc. Page
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