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News and Notices

Auburn Veterans Observance Adds WWII USS Indianapolis Tribute with Survivor George Horvath

The men struggled to stay alive as the sharks swam closer…

George Horvath and Kim RollerThe City of Auburn is pleased to announce an addition to the scheduled Veterans Day activities - a World War II USS Indianapolis Tribute, with survivor George Horvath (pictured left) as the guest of honor. This presentation will be held at the Auburn Ave. Theater, 10 Auburn Avenue, on Thursday, Nov. 8 at 6:30 PM. The event is free and open to the public on a first-come, first-seated basis. Doors open at 5:30 PM.

Horvath, a resident of Phoenix, Ariz. and one of the few remaining survivors from the USS Indianapolis CA-35 will share his memories of the largest single disaster ever suffered by the U.S. Navy at sea. Providing historical context for these memories is Kim Roller (pictured right), whose vintage WWII-era dress sets the stage for her moving multimedia presentation.

The heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis delivered components for the world’s first operational atomic bomb (later dropped on Hiroshima by the Enola Gay) to the Pacific Island of Tinian on July 26, 1945. Four days later, the ship was torpedoed and sank with 1,197 men on board. Approximately 900 men were able to get off the ship into shark-infested waters between Guam and Leyte, Philippines. Due to Navy reporting issues, nobody knew the ship was missing and no rescue was mounted. Purely by chance, the men were spotted from an aircraft and the rescue ships were called to the area. Of the 900 who initially survived, only 317 remained alive, surviving five days of constant shark attacks, starvation, thirst, hypothermia and wounds.

Come to hear, firsthand, about the harrowing ordeal of men fighting for their lives in shark-infested water, unaware that their SOS calls had been ignored as a Japanese hoax. You will hear about their accidental discovery. You’ll also learn why their Captain, Charles McVay III, was court-martialed and committed suicide while mourning the 880 men who lost their lives. Follow the story to almost 60 years later when a young boy, who did a history fair project about Indy after seeing the Jaws segment about it, helped the remaining survivors convince Congress to exonerate their deceased Captain.

Do not miss this opportunity to listen to and meet one of the last remaining USS Indianapolis survivors, George Horvath. Also in attendance will be Alexis Shuman, the daughter of Lt. Adrian Marks. He was the pilot of the PBY that so heroically defied orders not to land and rescued 56 men from a shark attack that was underway when he flew over.

Horvath and Shuman will be introduced by Kim Roller, as she gives a day-by-day overview of the horrific ordeal. Dressed in full 1940s vintage apparel, Kim’s multimedia presentation will take you back to one of WWII’s most tragic and inspiring missions. 

The National Veterans Day Committee and the US Department of Defense have once again selected the City of Auburn as one of the few regional sites for Veterans Day Observance in 2012. The mile-long parade, one of the largest of its kind in the United States, includes over 5,500 parade participants and features military marching units and vehicles, veteran units, marching bands, honor guards, drill teams, antique military vehicles and equipment, as well as floats, antique cars and more. The parade will proceed west on Main Street from E Street SE to A Street NW on Saturday, Nov. 10, starting at 11:00 AM.

Other events related to the Veterans Day celebration in Auburn include a Remembrance Ceremony at Veterans Memorial Park, a Static Display & Exhibit Showcase, a breakfast and luncheon to honor veterans, the state’s largest marching band competition and much more.

For additional details and event information, visit the City of Auburn’s website at www.auburnwa.gov/events or call 253-931-3043.