WWII ship's discovery prompts survivor to 'praise the Lord'
"I'm so excited," Harrell, 92, told Baptist Press. "It kind of brings closure."
The U.S.S. Indianapolis' discovery was announced Aug. 19 by Paul Allen, an entrepreneur whose research ship located the wreckage 3.5 miles below the surface of the Philippines Sea. The Indianapolis was sunk by Japanese torpedoes July 30, 1945, after delivering the contents of the famous "Little Boy" atomic bomb to the western Pacific island of Tinian during the closing days of World War II.
Though a distress signal was sounded as the Indianapolis sank, it either didn't get out or wasn't received. The survivors were rescued only after a U.S. bomber happened upon them during a patrol.
The sunken ship's precise location had been a mystery for seven decades.
"The discovery of the Indianapolis brings back a lot of memories," said Harrell, a Clarksville, Tenn., resident and member of Calvary Bible Church in Joelton, Tenn. "... When I was leaving the ship, I was praying and I knew the Lord was hearing. But I was hoping and praying that somehow I could survive what was ahead of me."
The Indianapolis' precise location remains classified, CBS News reported. Allen's team, which used an unmanned submarine to locate the wreckage, plans to conduct a live tour of the ship's remains in the coming weeks and is working with the Navy to honor the 18 remaining survivors.
Since the discovery was announced, Harrell "can't get away" from his computer and phone for all the media interview requests and other contacts, he said. He has been interviewed over the past week by CBS News, The Washington Post, C-SPAN Radio and other outlets.
He told The Post the discovery "brings closure to the story. But the experience that we survived, the trauma that we felt, that still exists."
"All things work together for good to those who love and honor Him," Harrell said. "I look back and have to say, Lord, I wonder what might have happened to me had I not had that kind of an experience those four and a half days, but had just been picked up the next hour or so and then just passed it over as a little, short incident that happened."
Harrell chronicled his experience with the Indianapolis in the 2005 book "Out of the Depths," coauthored with his son David, pastor of Calvary Bible Church. Edgar Harrell maintains an active speaking schedule, sharing his testimony with audiences around the nation.
"Lord," Harrell said he prays, "I know that sooner or later I'm going to meet You face to face and be able to thank You so much for so many, many things that have transpired to Your praise and honor and glory."