What is one way the Legion has honored survivors of the USS Indianapolis disaster?
With a race car. In June 2009, the American Legion No. 76 Freedom Car (a venture with Team Johnson Motorsports of North Carolina) arrived for a race at what is now Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis. The team and associate sponsor The David Law Firm invited survivors of the World War II sinking by a Japanese submarine – one of the deadliest sea events in the U.S. Navy’s history – to special events at both the track and a local post. The car itself carried a special decal honoring the survivors.
On Jan. 9, James E. O’Donnell, one of the survivors and an Indianapolis native (the only survivor to hail from the ship’s namesake city), died at 92. A statue of him in his Navy uniform stands at the local City Market complex. He was a member of Post 495 in Indianapolis. The 1945 sinking and its aftermath left 317 of 1,196 sailors alive. Today, the number stands at less than 50.