Indiana News

USS Indianapolis Survivor Dead at 92


James O'Donnell (photo courtesy IFD)

A survivor of the attack on the USS Indianapolis has died at the age of 92.


James O'Donnell was the sole survivor of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis to hail from the city of Indianapolis.  He was drafted to the Navy in 1944 and following the attack in 1945, O'Donnell returned to Indianapolis where he joined the Indianapolis Fire Department in 1946.  He served on the department until his retirement in 1981.

O'Donnell joined the the USS Indianapolis Memorial Organization in 1990 as a member of its board of directors.  He helped organize the building of a memorial in downtown Indianapolis which was dedicated in 1995.  14 years later, a statue of O'Donnell was erected outside City Market.

"Jimmy O'Donnell personified history and service to this country and city," Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard said Wednesday.  "The sinking of the USS Indianapolis is one of the greatest tragedies in U.S. Naval history.  The statue of Jimmy in the City Market Plaza honors his service and that of his shipmates.  As a USS Indianapolis survivor and retired firefighter, Jimmy O'Donnell was an American hero and a great citizen of Indianapolis."

The Indianapolis Fire Department also issued a statement saying,  "The Indianapolis Fire Department is proud to have such an example in James O’Donnell for dedication, service, brotherhood and compassion.  His 35 years of protecting lives, saving property and community service will forever remain a cornerstone in the IFD history."

O'Donnell is survived by his wife Mary Alice with whom he celebrated 70 years of marriage this past New Year's Eve.  He is also survived by four children and eleven grandchildren.

» Statue of USS Indianapolis Survivor Unveiled at City Market (12-7-09)


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