CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. — The last surviving Marine who was aboard the USS Indianapolis, the U.S. Navy ship that was sunk in World War II, has died at the age of 96.
Edgar Alvin Harrell of Tennessee died Saturday at the Tennessee State Veterans Home in Clarksville, according to an obituary published on the USS Indianapolis Facebook page.
The USS Indianapolis was torpedoed by Japanese military forces. Hundreds of crewmen died aboard the ship and in the shark-infested waters. In the end, only 316 men survived, and Harrell was one of them.
The sinking is considered the greatest naval catastrophe at sea in the history of the U.S. Navy.
“During his time aboard ship, he helped guard components of the atomic bomb. After the torpedoing, he was a hero amongst his shipmates,” a USS Indianapolis Facebook post says.
Officials say there are now only five living survivors from the sinking.
Harrell’s obituary says he was born in 1924 in Trigg County, Kentucky. He was decorated Marine who fought in the Pacific theater. He was the recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal and he received an honorary promotion to the rank of Sergeant in 2018.
Harrell was preceded in death by his wife and their daughter. He leaves behind his son, a son-in-law, two brothers, eight grandchildren, and 14 great-grandchildren.