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Jim Jarvis (1921–2020), oldest remaining survivor of WWII USS Indianapolis disaster

by Linnea Crowther

Jim Jarvis was a U.S. Navy veteran who was the oldest remaining survivor of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis in the Pacific Ocean during World War II. With his death, nine Indianapolis survivors remain.

Jarvis’ service

Jarvis was a U.S. Navy veteran who was serving aboard the USS Indianapolis when it was struck by two Japanese torpedoes on July 30, 1945. Jarvis had time to grab a life jacket before falling into the water, where he and hundreds of others remained for four days and five nights. Jarvis was one of the lucky ones who wasn’t killed by a shark in history’s worst shark attack, and he later told interviewers about how he maintained the presence of mind not to drink seawater, as others around him were doing in desperation. Jarvis was one of 316 who were saved from an original crew of 1195 crewmen. In later years, Jarvis displayed a sense of humor about his ordeal by regularly wearing a “USS Indianapolis Swim Team” t-shirt.

Determined to survive

“I never gave up. I figured, well, somebody will find us. They finally did.” —Jarvis in a 2018 interview with author Sara Vladic

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What people said about him

Full obituary: WTHR

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