Created: 7 June 2002
This image was taken 4 days before she was sunk by the
Japanese Submarine I-58
At 0014hrs on 30 July, 1945, the
USS Indianapolis was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in the Philippine Sea.
She sank in only 12 minutes. Of the 1,196 men on board, approximately 300 went
down with the ship. The remainder, about 900 men, were left floating in
shark-infested waters with no lifeboats and most with no food or water. The ship
was never missed, and by the time the survivors were spotted by accident four
days later only 316 men were still alive. The ship's
captain, the late Charles Butler McVay, survived and was subjected to a
court-martial and convicted of "hazarding his ship by failing to zigzag" despite
overwhelming evidence that the Navy itself had placed the ship in harm's way,
despite testimony from the Japanese submarine commander that zigzagging would
have made no difference, and despite that fact that, although 700 navy ships
were lost in combat in WWII, Captain McVay was the only captain to be treated
thus. Recently declassified material adds to the evidence that Captain McVay was
a scapegoat for the mistakes of others.
In October of 2000, following years of effort by the
survivors and their supporters, legislation was passed in Washington and signed
by President Clinton expressing the sense of Congress, among other things, that
Captain McVay's record should now reflect that he is exonerated for the loss of
the Indianapolis and for the death of her crew who were lost. In July of
2001 The Navy Department announced that Captain McVay's record has been amended
to exonerate him for the loss of the Indianapolis and the lives of those who
perished as a result of her sinking. The action was taken by the American
Secretary of the Navy Gordon England who was persuaded to do so by Senator Bob
Smith, a strong advocate of Captain McVay's innocence. The survivors are deeply
grateful to Secretary England and Senator Smith and also to young Hunter Scott
of Pensacola, Florida, without whom the injustice to Captain McVay would never
have been brought to the attention of the media and the Congress.
This action, however, does not remove the conviction
from Captain McVay's record. Nor would a presidential pardon. A pardon simple
frees a person from punishment, but it does not clear the conviction nor the
stain of guilt from that person's record. Thus, the survivors still seek a
presidential order to expunge the conviction from Captain McVay's record and
bring final justice to this story.
The world's first operational atomic bomb was delivered by the
Indianapolis, (CA-35) to the island of Tinian on 26 July 1945. The Indianapolis
then reported to CINCPAC (Commander-In-Chief, Pacific) Headquarters at Guam for
further orders. She was directed to join the battleship USS Idaho (BB-42) at
Leyte Gulf in the Philippines to prepare for the invasion of Japan. The
Indianapolis, unescorted, departed Guam on a course of 262 degrees making about
At 14 minutes past midnight, on 30 July 1945, midway between Guam and
Leyte Gulf, she was hit by two torpedoes out of six initiated by the I-58 a
Japanese submarine. The first blew away the bow, the second struck near midship
on the starboard side adjacent to a fuel tank and a powder magazine. The
resulting explosion split the ship to the keel, knocking out all electric power.
Within minutes she went down rapidly by the bow, rolling to starboard.
about 900 made it into the water in the twelve minutes before she sank. Few life
rafts were released. Most survivors wore the standard kapok life jacket. Shark
attacks began with sunrise of the first day, and continued until the men were
physically removed from the water, almost five days later.
Shortly after 11:00 A.M. of the fourth day, the survivors were
accidentally discovered by LT. (jg) Wilbur C. Gwinn, piloting his PV-1 Ventura
Bomber on routine antisubmarine patrol. Radioing his base at Peleiu, he alerted,
"many men in the water". A PBY (seaplane) under the command of LT. R. Adrian
Marks was dispatched to lend assistance and report. Enroute to the scene Marks
overflew the destroyer USS Cecil Doyle (DD-368), and alerted her captain, of the
emergency. The captain of the Doyle, on his own authority, decided to divert to
Arriving hours ahead of the Doyle, Marks' crew began dropping rubber
rafts and supplies. While so engaged, they observed men being attacked by
sharks. Disregarding standing orders not to land at sea, Marks landed, and began
taxiing to pick up the stragglers and lone swimmers who were at greatest risk of
shark attack. Learning the men were the crew of the Indianapolis, he radioed the
news, requesting immediate assistance. The Doyle responded she was enroute.
As complete darkness fell, Marks waited for help to arrive, all the
while continuing to seek out and pull nearly dead men from the water. When the
plane's fuselage was full, survivors were tied to the wing with parachute cord.
Marks and his crew rescued 56 men that day. The Cecil Doyle was the first vessel
on the scene. Homing on Marks' PBY in total darkness, the Doyle halted to avoid
killing or further injuring survivors, and began taking Marks' survivors aboard.
Disregarding the safety of his own vessel, the Doyle's captain pointed
his largest searchlight into the night sky to serve as a beacon for other rescue
vessels. This beacon was the first indication to most survivors, that their
prayers had been answered. Help had at last arrived. Of the 900 who made it into
the water only 317 remained alive. After almost five days of constant shark
attacks, starvation, terrible thirst, suffering from exposure and their wounds,
the men of the Indianapolis were at last rescued from the sea.
The impact of this unexpected disaster sent shock waves of hushed
disbelief throughout Navy circles in the South Pacific. A public announcement of
the loss of the Indianapolis was delayed for almost two weeks until August 15,
thus insuring that it would be overshadowed in the news on the day when the
Japanese surrender was announced by President Truman.
The Navy, however, was rushing to gather the facts and to determine who
was responsible for the greatest sea disaster in its history … who, in effect,
to blame. It was a faulty rush to judgment. It is important to note at the
outset that vital information pertinent to determining responsibility for the
loss of the Indianapolis was not made public until long after the subsequent
court-martial and conviction of Captain McVay. U.S. intelligence using a top
secret operation labelled ULTRA had broken the Japanese code and was aware that
two Japanese submarines, including the I-58, were operating in the path of the
This information was classified and not made available to either the
court-martial board or to Captain McVay's defence counsel. It did not become
known until the early 1990s that - despite knowledge of the danger in its path -
naval authorities at Guam had sent the Indianapolis into harm's way without any
warning, refusing her captain's request for a destroyer escort, and leading him
to believe his route was safe.
Captain McVay's request for a destroyer escort was denied despite
the fact that no capital ship lacking anti-submarine detection equipment, such
as the Indianapolis, had made this transit across the Philippine Sea without
an escort during the entire war.
Captain McVay was not told that shortly before his departure from
Guam a Japanese submarine within range of his path had sunk a destroyer
escort, the USS Underhill.
Shortly after the Indianapolis was sunk, naval intelligence decoded
a message from the I-58 to its headquarters in Japan that it had sunk an
American battleship along the route of the Indianapolis. The message was
Naval authorities then and now have maintained that the Indianapolis
sank too quickly to send out a distress signal. A radioman aboard the
Indianapolis testified at the September 1999 Senate hearing, however, that he
watched the "needle jump" on the ship's transmitter, indicating that a
distress signal was transmitted minutes before the ship sank, and sources at
three separate locations have indicated that they were aware of a distress
signal being received from the sinking ship. Its very likely that these
distress signals were received but ignored as a Japanese trick to lure rescue
vessels to the area.
Confusion on the part of Navy communications and a faulty directive
caused the failure of the Indianapolis to arrive on schedule to go unnoticed,
leaving as many as 900 men at the mercy of a shark-infested sea. (The faulty
directive - which required only reporting the arrival of non-combatant ships -
was corrected days after the Indianapolis survivors were discovered to require
reporting the arrival of combatant ships as well.)
A hastily convened closed-door court of inquiry had been convened in
Guam on August 13 with the Judge Advocate (prosecutor), Captain William
Hilbert, stating that they were "starting the proceedings without having
available all the necessary data." Little was done to add to such data prior
to the court's decision. As the first witness, Captain McVay was asked, among
other things, whether he had been zigzagging the night the ship was sunk. His
answer was simply, "No, sir," but apparently little weight was given to the
fact that he was under orders to zigzag at his discretion. Testimony by
survivors that visibility was severely limited the night of the attack, thus
explaining Captain McVay's orders to cease zigzagging, was heard but never
considered again (either then or at the subsequent court-martial). The Surface Operations officer at Guam who had sent the Indianapolis across
the Philippine Sea without a destroyer escort and who was responsible for
advising Captain McVay of any perils in his path testified that the danger was
"practically negligible." No one seemed to consider why his intelligence was
so inadequate, and those aware of the ULTRA intelligence and who should have
warned Captain McVay remained silent, very possibly conscious of their own
culpability. The court of inquiry ultimately recommended that
Captain McVay be court-martialed on two vague charges: (1) culpable
inefficiency in the performance of his duties and (2) negligently endangering
the lives of others.
Over 350 Navy warships had been lost in combat during
World War II, but none of their captains had been court-martialed. Both Fleet
Admiral Chester Nimitz and Vice Admiral Raymond Spruance for whom the
Indianapolis served as Fifth Fleet flagship opposed court-martialing Captain
McVay, and never had an officer been court-martialed over the objection of his
superiors, much less such prominent flag officers. With the war
ended, the scene then shifted to Washington. When orders were given to proceed
with the court-martial of Captain McVay only days before the court-martial
actually began on December 3 at Washington Navy Yard, he and his defence
counsel learned for the first time of the charges against him.
The Navy finally had decided on two charges against
Captain McVay. There was no evidence to substantiate the first charge which
was failure to issue timely orders to abandon ship. The fact that it was even
lodged against him was curious. Well before the trial began, the Navy was
aware that the torpedo attack had knocked out the ship's electrical system and
that orders to abandon ship could only be shouted by word of mouth in the din
and confusion about the sinking ship.
The second charge against Captain McVay was that he
had hazarded his ship by failing to zigzag in good visibility. Here are the
facts which made this charge shamefully unjust.
The orders which Captain McVay received in Guam
directed him to zigzag at his discretion.
No Navy directive in existence then or now requires
zigzagging at night in limited visibility.
The charge against Captain McVay stated that the
visibility was good on the night of the sinking (a fact never contested by
the inexperienced defence counsel who was assigned to Captain McVay).
When Captain McVay issued orders to cease
zigzagging shortly before midnight, the visibility, according to all
eyewitnesses aboard the ship, was and remained very poor up to the time of
the torpedoes struck, so bad that crew members could not identify their
shipmates several yards away.
Statements taken by survivors immediately after
rescue that the visibility was severely limited were not made available as
evidence at the court-martial. And only recently surfaced as the result of
research into old Navy records.
The commander of the Japanese submarine which sank
the Indianapolis and who testified at the court-martial said that he could
have sunk the ship whether it had been zigzagging or not.
A decorated U.S. submarine commander testified at
the court-martial that, given the identical circumstances which faced the
Japanese submarine that night, he could have sunk the Indianapolis whether
it had been zigzagging or not.
As so the Navy court-martial found Captain Charles
Butler McVay III guilty of hazarding his ship by failure to zigzag in good
visibility, thus diverting attention from so many others whose negligence and
misjudgements were the real cause of this tragedy, humiliating Captain McVay,
and damaging his promising naval career beyond repair.
In early 2000, only months before his death at the
age of 91 in Kyoto, Japan, the commander of the Japanese submarine which sank
the Indianapolis gave an interview and, referring to Captain McVay's
court-martial, said, "I had a feeling it was contrived from the beginning." A trial is most often contrived to find a scapegoat. That is the
story. It remains a tarnish on the reputation of the United States Navy more
than a half a century later. And it will remain a stain on the conscience of
the Navy until the conviction is expunged from Captain McVay's official
A 1920 graduate of the US Naval Academy, Charles
Butler McVay III was a career naval officer with an exemplary record whose
father, Admiral Charles Butler McVay II, had once commanded the Navy's Asiatic
Fleet in the early 1900s. Before taking command of the Indianapolis in
November 1944, Captain McVay was chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee
of the combined chiefs of staff in Washington, the Allies' highest
intelligence unit. Captain McVay led the ship through the invasion of
Iwo Jima, then the bombardment of Okinawa in the spring of 1945 during which
Indianapolis antiaircraft guns shot down seven enemy planes before the ship
was struck by a kamikaze on March 31, inflicting heavy casualties, including
13 dead, and penetrating the ship's hull. McVay returned the ship safely to
Mare Island in California for repairs. On July 16, 1945, the Indianapolis
sailed from California with a top secret cargo to Hawaii for refueling, then
to Tanian where it unloaded its cargo, the uranium and major components of the
atomic bomb to be dropped on Hiroshima by the Enola Gay on August 6. The
Indianapolis was then routed to Guam enroute to Leyte in the Philippines. It
was at Guam that the seeds for the destruction of the Indianapolis were laid.
Hostilities in this part of the Pacific had long since ceased. The Japanese
surfaced fleet no longer existed as a threat, and 1,000 miles to the north
preparations were underway for the invasion of the Japanese mainland. These
conditions resulted in a relaxed state of alert on the part of those who were
to route the Indianapolis across the Philippine Sea.
Here is the evidence:
Although naval authorities at Guam knew that on
July 24, four days before the Indianapolis departed for Leyte, the destroyer
escort USS Underhill had been sunk by a Japanese submarine within range of
his path, McVay was not told.
Although a code-breaking system called ULTRA had
alerted naval intelligence that a Japanese submarine (the I-58 by name which
ultimately sank the Indianapolis) was operating in his path, McVay was not
told. (Classified as top secret until the early 1990s, this intelligence --
and the fact it was withheld from McVay before he sailed from Guam -- was
not disclosed during his subsequent court-martial.)
Although no capital ship (unequipped with
antisubmarine detection devices such as the Indianapolis) had made the
transit between Guam and the Philippines without a destroyer escort
throughout World War II, McVay's request for such an escort was denied.
Although the routing officer at Guam was aware of
the ULTRA intelligence report, he said a destroyer escort for the
Indianapolis was "not necessary" (and, unbelievably, testified at McVay's
subsequent court-martial that the risk of submarine attack along the
Indianapolis's route "was very slight").
Although McVay was told of
"submarine sightings" along his path, none had been confirmed. Such
sightings were commonplace throughout the war and were generally
by navy commanders unless confirmed.
Thus, the Indianapolis set sail for Leyte on July 26,
1945, sent into harm's way with its captain unaware of dangers which
shore-based naval personnel knew were in his path. Captain McVay's orders were
to "zigzag at his discretion." Zigzagging is a naval manoeuvre used to avoid
torpedo attack, generally considered most effective once the torpedoes have
been launched. No Navy directives in force at that time or since recommended,
much less ordered zigzagging at night in poor visibility. At about 11pm
on Sunday night, July 29, the Indianapolis travelling alone was about halfway
across the Philippine Sea. There was heavy cloud cover with visibility
severely limited. Captain McVay gave orders to cease zigzagging and retired to
his cabin. Minutes later the ship was spotted as an indistinct blur by
Japanese submarine commander Mochitura Hasimoto of the I-58. It was coming
directly toward him from the east. Shortly after midnight the ship was
struck by two torpedoes and sank in about twelve minutes. An estimated 300 men
went down with the ship, leaving almost nine hundred men floating in the sea,
including Captain McVay. Their ordeal lasted four days without lifeboats, food
or water. Some of the men were in the water five days. McVay's ordeal was to
last 23 years.
When the ship failed to arrive at Leyte on Tuesday
morning, a series of blunders ensued. First, there was confusion as to which
area the Indianapolis was to report when it arrived. Second, there was no
directive to report the non-arrival of a combatant ship. And, third, there was
no request to retransmit a garbled message which would have clarified the
Indianapolis' arrival time. As a result, the surviving crew of the
Indianapolis was still floating in shark-infested waters until 11am on
Thursday, August 2, when Lt. Wilbur C. Gwinn, the pilot of a Ventura
scout-bomber, lost the weight from his navigational antenna trailing behind
the plane, a loss which was to save the lives of 316 men. While
crawling back through the fuselage of his plane to repair the thrashing
antenna, Gwinn happened to glance down at the sea and noticed a long oil
slick. Back in the cockpit, Gwinn dropped down to investigate, spotted men
floating in the sea, and radioed for help. At 3:30 that afternoon Lt. R.
Adrian Marks, flying a PBY Catalina, was the first to arrive on the scene.
Horrified at the sight of sharks attacking men below him, Marks landed his
flying boat in the sea, and, pulling a survivor aboard, he was the first to
learn of the Indianapolis disaster.
Upon their rescue by different vessels the
Indianapolis survivors were scattered at various Pacific bases. Captain McVay
was taken to Guam where he faced an board of inquiry ordered by Fleet Admiral
Chester Nimitz (CINCPAC) which convened on August 13, one day before the
sinking of the ship was announced to the public simultaneously with the
announcement that the Japanese had surrendered, thus insuring minimum press
coverage for the story of the Indianapolis' loss. Conceding that they "were
starting the proceedings without having available all the necessary data," the
board nonetheless recommended a general court-martial for McVay. Admiral
Nimitz, however, did not agree and on September 6, six weeks after the
disaster, wrote to the Navy's Judge Advocate General opposing a court-martial
and stating that at worst McVay was guilty of an error in judgment, but not
gross negligence. Nimitz recommended a letter of reprimand which constituted a
slap on the wrist but was far from career-ending punishment. In a CINCPAC
report, Nimitz pointed out that the rule requiring zigzagging would not have
applied in any event since McVay's orders gave him discretion on that matter
and thus took precedence over all other orders (a point which, unbelievably,
was never made by McVay's defence counsel during the subsequent
court-martial). Overriding the opposition of both Nimitz and Admiral
Raymond Spruance (for whom the Indianapolis had served as Fifth Fleet
flagship), naval authorities in Washington, specifically Secretary of the Navy
James Forrestal and Admiral Ernest King, Chief of Naval Operations, directed
that court-martial proceedings be held against McVay, and the trial was
scheduled to begin on December 3, 1945, at the Washington Navy Yard. Captain
McVay was notified but not told what specific charges would be brought against
him. The reason was simple. The Navy had not yet decided what to charge him
with. Four days before the trial began they did decide on two charges. One,
failing to issue orders to abandon ship in a timely fashion. And, two,
hazarding his vessel by failing to zigzag during good visibility.
Captain McVay was denied his first choice of defence
counsel, and a Captain John P. Cady was selected for him. McVay was also
denied a delay to develop his defence, and thus Cady, a line officer with no
trial experience, had only four days to prepare his case. It's difficult
to understand why the Navy brought the first charge against McVay. Explosions
from the torpedo attacks had knocked out the ship's communications system,
making it impossible to give an abandon ship order to the crew except by work
of mouth which McVay had done. He was ultimately found not guilty on this
count. That left the second charge of failing to zigzag. Incredibly, the Navy
brought the commander of the Japanese submarine, Mochitura Hashimoto, to
testify at the court-martial which was held at the Washington Navy Yard.
Hashimoto implied in pre-trial statements that zigzagging would not have saved
the Indianapolis but was not pressed on this point during the trial itself.
One prosecution witness which they wished they had never called was a veteran
Navy submariner named Glynn Donaho. A four-time Navy Cross winner during the
way, Donaho was asked by McVay's defence counsel whether "it would have been
more or less difficult for you to attain the proper firing position" if the
Indianapolis had been zigzagging under the conditions which existed that
night. His answer was, "No, not as long as I could see the target." It was
either deliberately ignored by (or passed over the heads of) the court-martial
board, and it was not pursued by McVay's defence.
There was also information withheld from McVay's
defence counsel. It involved the testimony of a Captain Oliver Naquin who had
been in charge of the routing instructions for the Indianapolis from Guam to
Leyte. When asked about the risk of enemy submarine activity in the ship's
path, Naquin replied "it was a low order" and "the risk was very slight."
Being responsible for sending the Indianapolis across the Philippine Sea
without a destroyer escort, Naquin's response served him well. Later it was
learned that Naquin was aware of the ULTRA report indicating that the I-58 was
operating in McVay's path and had not told him. Perhaps the most
egregious aspect of McVay's ultimate conviction for failing to zigzag,
however, was in the phrasing of the charge itself. The phrase was "during good
visibility." According to all accounts of the survivors, including eye-witness
accounts of survivors only recently declassified and not made available to
McVay's defence at the trial, the visibility that night was severely limited
with heavy cloud cover. This is pertinent for two reasons. First, as stated in
an earlier section, no Navy directives in force at that time suggested, much
less ordered, zigzagging at night with visibility limited. Second, McVay's
orders were "to zigzag at his discretion." Thus, when he stopped zigzagging,
he was simply following procedures set forth by Navy directives.
It is reasonable to assume from the evidence that a
decision to convict McVay was made before his court-martial began. The
survivors of the Indianapolis are convinced that he was made a scapegoat to
hide the mistakes of others, mistakes which included sending him into harm's
way without warning and failing to notice when the Indianapolis failed to
arrive on schedule, thus costing hundreds of lives unnecessarily and creating
the greatest sea disaster in the history o the United States Navy. McVay
was found guilty on the charge of failing to zigzag. The court sentenced him
to lose 100 numbers in his temporary rank of Captain and 100 numbers in his
permanent rank of Commander, thus ruining his Navy career. In 1946, at the
behest of Admiral Nimitz who had become Chief of Naval Operations, Secretary
Forrestal remitted McVay's sentence and restored him to duty. McVay served out
his time in the New Orleans Naval District and retired in 1949 with the rank
of Rear Admiral. He took his own life in 1968.
I-58 - prior to being scuttled in 1946
Mochitsura Hashimoto was the
commander of the Japanese submarine I-58 which sank the USS Indianapolis. He
died on October 25, 2000, at the age of 91, having spent the last years of his
life as a Shinto priest in Kyoto, Japan. For reasons which will be explained,
his death saddened many Indianapolis survivors. His path was to cross theirs
again in years to come. When the
decision was made in November of 1945 to court-martial Captain McVay, a
decision was also made to bring Hashimoto to the trial as a witness, and a
military plane was dispatched to Japan with an armed escort to bring him to
Washington. Public animosity toward the Japanese was still very high, and
using Hashimoto, so recently an enemy, as a witness against a decorated
American officer created a storm of controversy both in the media and in the
halls of Congress. Dan Kurzman interviewed Hashimoto for his 1990 book "Fatal
Voyage," however, and wrote "Commander Hashimoto was amazed by the Americans.
While penned up in his dormitory during the trial, he was treated more like an
honoured guest than an enemy officer who had caused the deaths of so many
American boys." (His treatment by the Navy undoubtedly stemmed from the fact
that he was to be one of their witnesses in the prosecution of Captain McVay.
The charge against Captain McVay
was that he had hazarded his ship by failing to zigzag at the time Hashimoto's
torpedoes struck, and Hashimoto confounded the prosecution by stating that he
would have been able to sink the Indianapolis whether it had been zigzagging
or not, testimony which appeared to have no impact at all on the court-martial
board which found McVay guilty anyway, and Hashimoto was returned to Japan.
On December 7, 1990, with the
war's bitterness faded, survivors of the Indianapolis, including Giles McCoy,
met Hashimoto in Pearl Harbor on the 49th anniversary of that attack.
Speaking through a translator,
Hashimoto told McCoy, "I came here to pray with you for your shipmates whose
deaths I caused," to which McCoy, apprehensive about encountering the man who
had caused him so much pain and sorrow but touched by Hashimoto's comment,
replied, "I forgive you." Nine years later Hashimoto responded to this
forgiveness by volunteering support to the survivors in their efforts to clear
Captain McVay's name.
In 1999, when a Japanese
journalist was interviewing the elderly Shinto priest about his life and about
the sinking of the Indianapolis, she informed him that an effort was being
made in the United States Congress to exonerate Captain McVay. Hashimoto told
her he would like to help, an offer which was relayed by e-mail to young
Hunter Scott in Pensacola, Florida, who suggested that Hashimoto write a
letter to Senator John Warner, chairman of the Senate Armed Services
Committee, and passed on Warner's address.
The text of that letter
"November 24, 1999
Attn: The Honourable John W. Warner
Chairman, Senate Armed Services Committee
Russell Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510
"I hear that your legislature
is considering resolutions which would clear the name of the late Charles
Butler McVay III, captain of the USS Indianapolis which was sunk on July 30,
1945, by torpedoes fired from the submarine which was under my command." I do
not understand why Captain McVay was court-martialed. I do not understand why
he was convicted on the charge of hazarding his ship by failing to zigzag
because I would have been able to launch a successful torpedo attack against
his ship whether it had been zigzagging or not. I have met may of your
brave men who survived the sinking of the Indianapolis. I would like to join
them in urging that your national legislature clear their captain's name.
Our peoples have forgiven each other for that terrible war and its
consequences. Perhaps it is time your peoples forgave Captain McVay for the
humiliation of his unjust conviction."
former captain of I-58
Japanese Navy at WWII
30 Fukeno Kawa Machi, Umezu
Ukyo-ku, Kyoto 615-0921, Japan"
Hashimoto's letter received
press attention during the effort to clear Captain McVay's name, and, as a
result, it no doubt helped in getting Congress to exonerate him. For some
reason, however, it was not included in the Senate Armed Services Committee
report. Meanwhile, some very interesting comments by Hashimoto were revealed
in an English translation of his interview with the same journalist who acted
as the go-between in arranging his letter to Senator Warner. Here are some
excerpts from that interview in which Hashimoto speaks about his involvement
in the court-martial of Captain McVay:
"I understand English a little
bit even then, so I could see at the time I testified that the translator did
not tell fully what I said. I mean it was not because of the capacity of the
translator. I would say the Navy side did not accept some testimony that were
inconvenient to them ... I was then an officer of the beaten country, you
know, and alone, how could I complain strong enough?"
When asked how he would feel to
have his views known about the court-martial, here was his response:
"I would feel great. It will be
pleasant. No matter what the occasion would be. Because at the time of the
court-martial I had a feeling that it was contrived from the beginning" and "I
wonder the outcome of that court-martial was set from the beginning."
The stigma of Captain McVay's conviction, however,
has remained to this day. On my
Kite pages, I have the transcript of the
Board of Inquiry, I get the distinct impression that the format and
questioning of survivors was such that they had predetermined the outcome of
For an in-depth narrative on the history of the USS Indianapolis