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Smither, James (Interviewer)

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Thelen, Richard

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Richard Thelen was born in Lansing, Michigan, in 1927. He grew up in Lansing and enlisted in the Navy in 1944. In January 1945 he reported for basic training at Great Lakes Naval Station, Illinois and trained there for four months until he completed his training in April 1945. After basic training he want to California and was assigned to the USS Indianapolis which was in dry dock at the time receiving repairs due to a kamikaze attack. With the cargo of the atomic bomb components the USS Indianapolis left San Francisco on July 16, 1945 bound for the island of Tinian. After delivering the bomb components they were ordered to the Philippines to join the 7th Fleet. At roughly midnight on July 30 the Japanese submarine I-58 spotted the Indianapolis and torpedoed her. The ship sank quickly, and Thelen and other survivors were in the water for three days before they were spotted and rescued, during which time many men died. After extended time in hospitals, Thelen was assigned to duties on bases in the US until his discharge.

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Veterans History Project collection, (RHC-27)

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