Survivor of the USS Indianapolis sinking passes away at age 94

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Richard “Dick” Thelen at the commissioning of a new USS Indianapolis in 2019.

INDIANAPOLIS — USS Indianapolis survivor Richard “Dick” Thelen passed away on Monday, Sept. 13, at the age of 94.

According to the official Facebook page for the USS Indianapolis, Thelen was one of the youngest crew members aboard the World World II Navy vessel and joined the crew just prior to her fateful final sailing in May of 1945.

On July 30, 1945, the USS Indianapolis was sunk after being torpedoed by the Imperial Japanese Navy. Thelen was amongst 1,195 crewmen aboard the ship as it went down. Only 316 survived by the time of rescue five days later.

Thelen previously told CBS4 that thoughts of his father willed him to survive after four days and five nights stranded in the water.

“Every time I was ready to give up, I would feel dad’s grip and I can see dad’s face. I got home and told my dad that. He said how the hell did I do that? If I didn’t have him to think about, I would’ve given up,” Thelen previously said.

Dick had been an integral part in planning reunions to commemorate and celebrate the survivors of USS Indianapolis throughout the decades.

“He was a leader, a friend, a storyteller, a jokester, a smart aleck… he was wise, and generous, fun, and always honest. He taught us to Never Give Up, and to fight for what’s right, even when the going gets tough. We’ll miss you Dick, but we’ll never forget you. And we’ll never stop sharing your story. Rest easy sailor, we have the watch.”

USS Indianapols official Facebook page

Thelen was in attendance in 2019 for the commissioning of a new USS Indianapolis in Burns Harbor, Indiana. The new ship is the fourth Navy vessel to carry the name of the Circle City.

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