To commemorate our recent Memorial Day I viewed David Barton’s 2017 interview with Edgar Harrell (1924-2020). He was one of the Greatest Generation and endured extraordinary circumstances in 1945 shortly before WW2 ended. Those circumstances found him in desperate need of hope.
The USS Indianapolis was torpedoed by an enemy submarine and quickly sank in only 12 minutes. Onboard were 1,196 military members from both US Navy and US Marines. Sadly only 316 would survive the sinking known as the greatest single loss of life at sea from a single ship in US Naval history.
Harrell’s testimony of his experiences relate hope even today 75 years later. He received much-needed hope by recognizing God’s providence, by receiving His peace and courage, and by a miraculous survival against great odds.
To learn more about this American hero’s true story of how God’s providence helped him survive shipwreck, shark attacks, and being lost four days in the Pacific Ocean, then read his book or visit his website at Indysurvivor.com.
Harrell’s personal story is featured in his book, OUT OF THE DEPTHS: An Unforgettable WW2 Story of Survival, Courage, and the Sinking of the USS Indianapolis, co-authored by his son, David Harrell.
Also an interview with Harrell can be heard anytime at WallBuildersLive.com. Parts of his story are given below in Harrell’s own words from a transcript of an interview by Rick Green.
“From a spiritual standpoint, I have to say that I was just so fortunate that somehow, someway that the mercy of the Lord that I know and serve; somehow, someway He enabled me to endure…. It’s just a consolation just to hear and know and to be able to tell of the providence of God to bring me through such an ordeal….” (Edgar Harrell)
“I can’t take any credit for the fact that I endured other than the fact that when I left that ship… I was actually believing, praying, and asked the Lord to give me some assurance that I’m going to survive.” (EH)
“Then to have a Scripture come to mind from just a little Sunday School boy a few years before, ‘I’ll never leave you or forsake you.’ Not audibly, but I knew. ‘Peace I give unto you not as the world give unto you, let not your hearts be troubled, don’t be afraid.’ That was ringing in my ears. I say to the Lord, ‘You’re speaking to my heart; I’m going to make it.'” (EH)
“But then I wondered, wondered, wondered these next… days when I would see a buddy next to me that… his torso is gone, then maybe he bumps into you, and he leaves part of that residue of the decayed body on you, and you wear that, you know you wonder if you’re not going to be the next one. But then to look back on all of that, and it makes a different person out of you….” (EH)
Wounds, aggressive shark attacks, dehydration, and hypothermia were now increasingly against those who had lived long enough to get off the rapidly sinking ship. By the time they were rescued four days later 20-year-old Harrell was still alive.
“Now there was a big story in those four and a half days… from the time that I left the ship until I was picked up…. Now that is God’s Providence working in my life. I have a wonderful story to tell, and that’s recorded in my book, too.” (EH)
Many will remember Harrell’s unforgettable experience as a story of survival and courage. To me it is also a story of hope, and I shall remember that God provided the hope for Marine Corporal Harrell just when he needed it most.
“Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them for the Lord your God is the One Who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31: 6)
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (John 14: 27)
“Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” (Matthew 14: 27)
“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there Your hand will lead me, and Your right hand will lay hold of me.” (Psalm 139: 7-10)