MAHOMET, Ill. (WCIA) — A survivor from the sinking of the USS Indianapolis died this week. Art Leenerman was 95.
WCIA interviewed him in July for the 74th anniversary of the ship’s sinking. He was one of 316 people who survived out of the nearly 2,000 people who were on board. The Indianapolis was on a secret mission to deliver parts of the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima. Leenerman said most of the men on the ship didn’t know what they were transporting.
He said when the ship was torpedoed, he survived four days and five nights of shark attacks, starvation, and exposure in the water. Rescue crews thought he was dead when they found him.
“They had me in a body bag already,” said Leenerman. “I guess when they were taking me on the airplane or to the ship, I guess I kinda came to and moved a little bit, so they decided I was alive.”
He had salt water burns and sun damage.
At one time, Central Illinois had three Indianapolis survivors. With Leenerman’s death, there are now only 11 survivors remaining worldwide.
His funeral service will be Sunday at noon at the Rosenbaum Funeral Home in Gibson City.