5 Questions With Edgar Harrell

Welcome to 5 Questions With.....

Today's guest is Edgar Harrell.

I just recently reviewed his book, Out of the Depths and Mr. Harrell has graciously agreed to discuss the book and his experiences here.

A brief bio from his website, www.indysurvivor,com:

Edgar Harrell owned and operated the Pella Window Company, Inc., Rock Island, Illinois for thirty-five years until his retirement in 1985. During the years 1970 to 1985, he served on the board of trustees of the Moody Bible Institute, in Chicago, Illinois, and has been a popular Bible teacher and lay minister throughout his adult life. He has enjoyed many years of fishing and big game hunting in the Rocky Mountains from Alaska to New Mexico, and currently resides in Clarksville, Tennessee with his wife Ola, together enjoying their two children, eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. As a survivor of the USS Indianapolis (www.indysurvivor.com), Mr. Harrell speaks extensively around the United States about his experience at sea.

OK, let's get started:

1. During the tail end of WW2 your ship, the USS Indianapolis, was sunk by Japanese torpedoes. You and your shipmates were in the water for 5 days. Was there ever a moment where you felt like giving up?

I must say there were moments when I believed life on this earth might be over, especially when I saw the carnage of the many bloated bodies, unrecognizable, floating in our very midst, even slamming into us as they tumbled off a 10 foot wave of water, leaving some of their putrid flesh on us. Likewise, seeing a shipmate so exhausted that they were willing to just give up, or hearing that blood curdling scream, to see that kapok go under and see it surface in a school of sharks was indeed a test of faith. 

From the 80 or so in our group just after leaving the ship, and only 17 the third day at noon, was a test of our endurance. I often say "it is much easier to die than to fight to live". To see a body that had been disemboweled, or the bottom torso gone, left you with despair. Some of our shipmates were drinking salt water and became delirious and thus your enemy, even thinking that you had a canteen of water in your kapok jacket and thus might stab you  to get that sacred water. However, there was too many things happening daily that told me that somehow or someway I would survive. I had that assurance given to me when I looked into the oil covered water below when I was praying just before I left the ship. I had poured my heart out to the Lord, whom I knew, telling Him, "I don't want to die, I want to live. I have a Dad and Mom back home, two sisters and six younger brothers. I also have a brunette that promised to wait for me." (Yes and she waited and has been my companion for these past 67 years.) "I want to live and have a family, I want to live for you." As I prayed, the Lord responded by calling to mind the Scripture that says I will never leave you or forsake you or John 14:27, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." Those words flashed into my memory as if the Lord was personally speaking to me. That was the hope that ultimately sustained me those days. That too became my prayer of praise and thanksgiving, yes His Divine Providence.

2. Have you ever felt bitter about what happened?

With Commander Hishimoto? No.  With the Japanese people? Absolutely not. I would liked to have met Commander Hishimoto and thanked him that he did not surface and strafe us. I have met his grand-daughter and great-grand-daughter and embraced them with tears and delight of restitution on each of our parts.

3. Your Captain was eventually exonerated of culpability in the sinking of the USS Indianapolis. How important was that for you and your shipmates?

Three hundred seventeen survivors fought for 50 years with the Navy, Pentagon & Washington to have our good Captain exonerated. This took the survivors organization going before the Armed Service Committee in Washington, DC and getting a joint resolution from the House and Senate, which President Clinton signed, getting Captain McVay exonerated. We could wish that our present President would go the next step and have the Court Martial EXPUNGED from the record. That is the need today for the miscarriage of justice and the court martial of Capt. Charles B. McVay III in 1945.

We have been promised by the Sec. of the Navy to have another surface USS Indianapolis in the not to distant future.

4. Throughout your book, Out of the Depths, you talked about the Lord protecting you, providing for you, etc. Did your understanding of God and His grace change in any way through the experience?

Yes, yes in many ways. It has become one of praise and thanksgiving. It has driven me closer and closer to the Lord. There is never a day that passes but what I remember those days and remember His assurance, plus His mercy and grace. Each of those 4 1/2 days God revealed Himself to my most present needs.

5. What do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I could wish that readers would read the details of our daily experiences, plus realize the cost paid by my shipmates, which was the largest disaster at sea in the history of the US Navy. Respectt our service men who have and our presently sacrificing for our freedom.

Thank You Mr. Harrell!

God Bless & Semper Fi

Edgar Harrell USMC
Survivor USS Indianapolis

If you get the chance, check out Edgar's website here 

Notes on the above interview: 

A kapok is a type of flotation device. 
Commander Hishimoto was the Captain of the Japanese submarine I-58 that sunk the USS Indianapolis. 

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