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Edgar Harrell (1924–2021), last surviving Marine from the USS Indianapolis

by Linnea Crowther

Edgar Harrell was the last living U.S. Marine who was serving on the USS Indianapolis during World War II when it was torpedoed and sank.

USS Indianapolis

Harrell was stationed aboard the USS Indianapolis in 1945, guarding components of the atomic bomb it was carrying. In one of the most notorious stories of the war, the ship was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine and sank, leaving its crew fighting for their lives in shark-infested waters. Of the crew of 1195 men, Harrell was one of only 316 to survive. He later returned to the U.S. and owned and operated the Pella Window Company in Rock Island, Illinois, for 35 years until his retirement in 1985. Along with his son, David Harrell, he wrote the book “Out of the Depths,” relating his experience in the USS Indianapolis disaster. In 2018, Harrell and the other remaining survivors of the USS Indianapolis were honored with the Congressional Gold Medal. His death leaves only five survivors of the disaster still living.

Notable quote

“I still remember my first impression when I boarded the Indy, as she was affectionately called: This thing is big—really big! It was like a floating city. For a country boy from Kentucky, it was overwhelming. The sight of the massive guns gave me goose bumps. Never having seen guns larger than a double-barreled shotgun, I remember laughing to myself, thinking, My, my, my. We can win the war just by ourselves with these monsters!” —from “Out of the Depths”


Tributes to Edgar Harrell

Full obituary: ABC News

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