Auburn to host Veterans Day event with WWII guest of honor

George Horvath will never forget the day his ship was torpedoed and sank with more than 1,000 men onboard in the shark-infested waters off the Guam coast. He was one of the few survivors of the USS Indianapolis which was attacked in the heat of World War II.

Horvath, now in his 80s, will recall his ordeal during a Veterans Day tribute event Nov. 8 at the Auburn Avenue Theater beginning at 6:30 p.m.

The City of Auburn is hosting this free event with Horvath, who is the guest of honor. Horvath, a resident of Phoenix, Arizona and one of the few remaining survivors from the USS Indianapolis will share his memories of the largest single disaster at sea, ever suffered by the U.S. Navy.  Providing historical context for these memories is Kim Roller, whose vintage WWII-era dress sets the stage for her moving multimedia presentation.

The heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis delivered components for the world’s first operational atomic bomb (later dropped on Hiroshima by the Enola Gay) to the Pacific Island of Tinian on July 26, 1945.  Four days later, the ship was torpedoed and sank with 1,197 men on board.  Nearly 900 men got off the ship, which went down between Guam and Leyte, Philippines.

Due to Navy reporting issues, nobody knew the ship was missing and no rescue was mounted. Purely by chance, the men were spotted from an aircraft and the rescue ships were called to the area. Of the 900 who initially survived the sinking, only 317 remained alive, surviving five days of constant shark attacks, starvation, thirst, hypothermia and wounds.

Also in attendance will be Alexis Shuman, the daughter of Lt. Adrian Marks.  He was the pilot of the aircraft that defied orders not to land and rescued 56 men from the ocean when he flew over.