|War Veteran Woody James speaks at San Rafael Jr. High.|
On Feb. 7, Woody Eugene James, survivor of the USS Indianapolis, visited San Rafael Junior High School. Diane Butler, the school media specialist, had discovered the story of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis and that one of the survivors lived in Salt Lake City. Butler studied the account of the Indianapolis and contacted James. She wanted to put together a program and assembly for the students to learn more about the price of freedom.
James began his day at San Rafael at 8:30 a.m. with a showing of the documentary by the Discovery Channel about the USS Indianapolis. James was one of four survivors selected by the exploration team from Discovery Channel to go back to the Philippine Sea to look for the sunken ship. Although, the ship was not located on this attempt, there has been a renewed effort to try again and the Discovery Channel will resume the search some time this year.
The documentary dramatized the actual events of the torpedoes hitting the ship and the events of the next five days the sailors spent in the sea. A Japanese submarine torpedoed the Indy just after midnight on July 30, 1945 on her return from delivering the components of the atomic bomb that was to be dropped on Hiroshima by the Enola Gay.
At 9:40 a.m., James began the first of three assemblies for the studentbody and the public. He recounted his story and expressed his feelings to the students. The students had previously viewed the documentary along with studying the book by Hunter Scott, Left for Dead. Scott is a Florida boy, who at the age of 11 had his curiosity piqued by the movie "Jaws," led the fight to exonerate the captain of the Indianapolis.
Several Emery County veterans, from a variety of service branches and conflicts, were on hand to listen to James' story.
At the end of each assembly, the audience was allowed to ask questions of James. When asked his age, James replied that he had recently celebrated his 39th birthday for the 41st time. Another student asked James what his life had been like since the ordeal. James explained that he had wandered around the country, trying to forget, for about a year when he finally settled in Salt Lake City in March of 1946. He has lived in Salt Lake, married and raised his family there.
As a final word to the students, James said, "We are a country of immigrants, remember always what has been done to make this country what it is. Don't forget the power of oneÃ¯Â¿Â½Hunter Scott for example. And don't ever, ever give up."