The sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis is one of the biggest tragedies of World War Two.
Of nearly 1200 men on board when a Japanese submarine torpedoed the American cruiser...only 300 survived the four days in shark-infested waters.
Tonight we salute one of them from East Ridge, Louis Erwin.
A look around Navy Veteran Louis "Kayo" Erwin's East Ridge home reveals the story of the worst Naval disaster in U.- S. History.
July 30th 1945...just after midnight...
Louis "Kayo" Erwin, "I'd just come off the 8 to 12 watch with a 5 inch gun, just laid down in my hammock and I heard a terrible blast."
That was the first Japanese torpedo slamming into the U. S. S. Indianapolis.
Erwin, "Knocked me out of my hammock. By that time it hit a second time in the powder room. Blew the ship half in two."
Three hundred men went down with the ship...900 ended up in the water with life jackets like this one their only lifeline.
Erwin, "That first night we figured we'd be picked up the next morning but the next morning passed and we could see planes flying so high that they couldn't see just our heads sticking out of the water."
Erwin, "Sharks was real real bad. They got a lot of our men."
Erwin was among only 316 men who survived the four-day five-night ordeal.
It left his mind and body battered.
Erwin, "That salt water where the KPAC life jacket rubs around the neck was raw. Under your arms was raw. Where the straps cut you between your legs just raw sores."
Erwin adds, "It's just luck that we were found."
Erwin is among just 44 Indianapolis survivors alive today.
He still shares his story ... turning tragedy into triumph...thankful to be one of the fortunate ones.