Indiana News

Statue of USS Indianapolis Survivor Unveiled at City Market


James O’Donnell stands in front of his statue at City Market. (Photo courtesy City of Indianapolis)
James O’Donnell stands in front of his statue at City Market. (Photo courtesy City of Indianapolis)

Whistler Plaza at City Market in Indianapolis was the site of dedication ceremonies Monday for the unveiling of a life-size statue honoring James E. O'Donnell, a retired Indianapolis firefighter and survivor of the USS Indianapolis.

The black granite statue is located on the west side of City Market. It weighs approximately 1,200 pounds and rests upon a base exhibiting an etching of the USS Indianapolis.

The ship, with a crew of 1,196, sank in 12 minutes after two torpedoes from a Japanese submarine slammed into its hull in July 1945. Only 317 crew members survived after four days and five nights in the shark- infested waters of the Philippine Sea before they were spotted by a plane on anti-submarine patrol.

"The story of the USS Indianapolis and its crew is so inspiring, so filled with courage and perseverance," said Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard. "This statue is more than just a piece of granite recognizing and honoring the sacrifice of one man. It represents the generation that saved the world from tyranny and allowed us the precious freedoms we enjoy today."

O'Donnell, 89, served with IFD for 35 years before retiring in 1981.

"I don't know that I deserve anything like this because so many other people have done so much more than I have," said O'Donnell. "The real heroes are the ones that didn't come back."

The date of December 7 was chosen for the unveiling because it marks the entry of the U.S. into World War II 68 years ago.

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