Just past midnight on July 30, 1945, two Japanese torpedoes struck the USS Indianapolis. The damage caused her to sink in less than twelve minutes in the shark-infested waters of the Philippine Sea.
Although over 300 Sailors went down with the ship, nearly 900 managed to escape. However, due to a tragic breakdown in communications within Naval headquarters, their rescue would be delayed. In fact, three and half days would go by before Navy command received word of the sinking. This delay proved catastrophic. Of the 900 who survived the sinking, only 317 survived to be rescued. Injuries, dehydration, exposure, saltwater-poisoning, and shark attacks killed the rest.
A Denied Request
The Indianapolis was a Portland-class heavy cruiser and had a crew of 1,229 officers and enlisted men. It had just delivered parts for the “uranium gun weapon” (AKA “Little Boy,” the first deliverable atomic bomb) to Tinian Island. Now it was on its way to join the Pacific fleet in the Philippines to prepare for the land invasion of Japan. Before departing Tinian Island, the Indianapolis’ commander, Captain Charles V. McVay III, requested a destroyer escort. This request was denied on the grounds that there had been no recent submarine activity on his planned route. In fact, critical information withheld from CAPT McVay was that a U.S. destroyer had been torpedoed and sunk only three days earlier.
Despite these failures on the Navy’s part to alert CAPT McVay of the dangers or to inform his gaining command of his arrive time, McVay bore the blame for the Indianapolis’ sinking. In fact, after the war ended, CAPT McVay was court martialed for failing to engage in the defensive maneuver of zigzagging prior to being torpedoed.
And who was the Navy’s star witness against CAPT McVay? It was none other than the enemy commander of the Japanese sub (I-58), Mochitsura Hashimoto. His testimony sank CAPT McVay, just as his torpedoes had sunk his ship earlier.
Yet the Navy’s use of an enemy commander to bring down one of their own, so enraged the public that McVay was eventually cleared of all charges. But this was a hollow victory. Though he was able to retire in 1949 as a rear admiral and he always had the undying support of his men, his story ended in tragedy. The Navy’s treatment of him and his own feelings of guilt eventually drove him to commit suicide. Thirty-two years after his suicide, Congress finally exonerated his name.
Some Things Never Change
CAPT McVay’s story comes to mind every time I see members of our military, law enforcement, or border patrol castigated by the media based on the testimony of the guilty. The berating of border patrol officers for using teargas against a mob at our southern border is a prime example. With some exceptions, news agencies across America uniformly condemned these actions. They based their condemnation exclusively on the testimony of the angry crowd of immigrants.
These very same agencies failed to take so much as a minute to interview members of the border patrol to get their side of the story. In reality, border patrol officers had been repeatedly pelted with rocks from the crowd while others were scaling barriers. The teargas was the most minimal response the officers had at their disposal.
This practice of continually empathizing with the enemy while vilifying those who serve and protect us is downright perverse. Instead of focusing on the sacrifices our own men and women make to defend and protect us, our media and pop culture advocates for our enemies. They highlight the hardships of those who attack us or illegally enter our borders. They even make them the star witnesses against the brave men and women who serve and protect us.
Friend, if we do not advocate for our own military, our own law enforcement, for our own nation, and even our own interests, then who will? Every other nation celebrates its own achievements, its own culture, and its own military. Only America sings the praise of everyone else while condemning itself. As a result we are teaching our children and our youth to hate the best and greatest nation on the planet. We have become so anti-patriotic that the slightest complement of America is viciously attacked as “fascist.”
In the Bible we read of how God punished Israel and Jerusalem for their idolatry and wickedness. God sent them into exile to the most sinful city on earth—Babylon. Here were citizens of Jerusalem, now captive in the wicked city of Babylon. What was their attitude to be toward the land of their sojourn?
God told the exiles to “seek the peace and welfare of that city and pray to the LORD on its behalf. For,” God told them, “in its peace and prosperity, you will have peace and prosperity” (Jer. 29:7).
And what is to be the Christian believer’s attitude toward the land of its sojourn—the United States? Are we to despise patriotism on the grounds that America is evil and that our true citizenship is in heaven? No. If God has planted the Christian in this country then he or she should earnestly seek its peace and welfare—and should pray to God on its behalf. For in its peace, they will have peace.
Besides, as nations go, America is exceptionally good. Its people are the most generous on earth. They adopt the most foreign children, go to the rescue of more nations during natural disasters, and defend more oppressed nations than any other people. It’s a nation worth working for, fighting for, and praying for.
Dear Father in heaven, please bless America. Heal our nation of its many divisions and mend its every flaw. Turn the hearts of Americans to you in faith and repentance and to each other in love and reconciliation. Raise up godly men and women to fill the ranks of leadership in our government, that they may lead our nation on the path of righteousness. Please bless and protect the men and women of our Armed Forces, Law Enforcement, and Border Patrol. Make us ever-mindful of their contribution and sacrifices. Grant them success and protection in their hazardous missions to protect our freedoms. Keep our nation strong and free. Put in the hearts of every American a love for righteousness and an abhorrence for evil. Grant America supreme success as Your torch of freedom and Your instrument of peace throughout the world. Amen.
In article photo: Sailor salutes as the flag is lowering on the flight deck. by the U.S. Navy licensed under CC BY 2.0