On Feb. 7, students at San Rafael Junior High, local veterans and the public will attend an assembly to listen to experiences of Woody Eugene James, who was aboard the infamous USS Indianopolis that was torpedoed by a Japanese Submarine at the end of WWII. The ship had just delivered the parts for the atomic bomb and was on its way to an island in the Philippines when it was hit. The ship was sunk in less than 15 minutes. Of the almost 1,200 men on board, approximately 300 were killed in the explosion. The remaining 900 were left afloat. Due to numerous breakdowns in communications, help never came. The survivors were left in the shark filled waters for five days. By then only 317 survivors remained. This incident has been called our Navy's worst tragedy at sea. Today, almost 60 years later, approximately 100 survivors remain.
James is from Salt Lake City. After the war he became a truck driver. He married and has the following family: four children, 32 grandchildren, 46 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.He has survived cancer and four heart attacks.
Today, James spends time talking to students about his ordeal and about giving service to our country. He, along with three other survivors, was recently invited by the Discovery Channel to go back on a trip to the Philippine Sea to try to find the wreckage of the USS Indianapolis. This trip produced information for a documentary. This documentary will be shown at 8:20 a.m. to the students and the public, in the library at San Rafael Junior High. At about 9:40 a.m. James will give the first assembly to the public and the ninth graders. The assembly will then be repeated for the eighth graders at 10:30 a.m. and the seventh graders at 12:35 p.m. James will also spend lunch and have treats with the reader's club members. He will also be available to sign copies of Left For Dead, which the students have either bought or earned by reading all 12 reader's club books.