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Ed Harrell

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Stranded in Shark Infested Waters (Part 1) - Ed Harrell

Dennis & Barbara's Top 25 All-Time Interviews

Listen to Part 1Listen to Part 2Listen to Part 3Listen to Part 4 FamilyLife Today® Radio Transcript References to conferences, resources, or other special promotions may be obsolete. Out of the Depths  Day 1 of 4 Guest:                            Ed Harrell From the Series:         The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis ________________________________________________________________ Bob:                Sixty years ago this week on the night of July 30, 1945, just weeks before the end of World War II, a Japanese submarine launched torpedoes that would sink the USS Indianapolis.  Marine Ed Harrell was on board that night. Ed:                  When I actually left the ship, and there I prayed that somehow the Lord would see me through what lie ahead, and yet I had the foggiest idea that I'm going to be out there for four-and-a-half days.  There's times when you pray, and there's times when you pray, and there is a difference. Bob:                This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, August 1st.  Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  Of the nearly 1,200 men who were onboard the Indianapolis on that night only 317 survived.  Ed Harrell was one of the survivors, and we'll hear his story today.                         And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Monday edition.  Dennis? Dennis:          Bob, I want you to imagine with me a pretty dramatic scene.  Just consider yourself being 20 years old, you're a Marine, you're tough, you're physically fit, but you're alone, you're in the ocean, you've just lost your ship, and you and about 80 others are floating in the middle of the night in the ocean in lifejackets.  We're going to hear a story – one of the most compelling stories I think I've ever heard from a gentleman who joins us on FamilyLife Today – one of the survivors of the USS Indianapolis. Bob:                A man who doesn't have to imagine what you just described because he lived through it. Dennis:          That's exactly right.  Ed Harrell joins us on FamilyLife Today.  Welcome to the broadcast, Ed. Ed:                  Thank you so much.  It's a delight to be with you. Dennis:          Ed is not only a survivor, but he was a businessman for 38 years.  He's served as a member of the board of trustees at Moody Bible Institute, a great ministry.  He and his wife Ola, who have been married since 1947 – that's a lot of years, that's a lot of years, live in Paris, Tennessee.  They have two children, eight grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. Ed:                  That's right. Dennis:          You've lived quite a life, Ed, but you're one of the few, one of the few survivors of that tragedy.  Take us back, first of all, to when you signed up.  Why in the world did you sign up to be a Marine?  It was 1943, is that right? Ed:                  That's right, 1943.  I don't know that I can even know why I really did at the time, but I knew that the war was getting pretty close to home, it sounded to me.  In fact, when I heard that the Japanese and the American forces were having quite a battle at Midway, I was thinking that Midway was maybe between San Francisco and Hawaii, and so I thought, you know, they're getting pretty close to America, so, actually, I had just finished my junior year in high school, and I volunteered then for the Marine Corps. Bob:                You were 17, 18 years old? Ed:                  I was 18 when I – I actually became a Marine when I was 18. Bob:                You know, Ed, my son is a junior in high school, and the thought of my son saying, "I'm going to sign up to be a Marine in the middle of this kind of conflict, as a parent, I'm not sure I'd endorse that plan.  Were your parents behind it? Ed:                  Yes, I think they pretty much agreed.  Dad pretty much agreed.  They didn't necessarily want to see me leave, but they knew, too, the little Silvertone radio that we had was telling us quite a bit what was happening in the Pacific, and I didn't have much problem convincing them that I wanted to go.  In fact, I have two grandsons in the Marine Corps today. Dennis:          Do you remember that time when you said goodbye to your dad? Ed:                  I do.  My dad was 37 or 39 years old, and I thought he was an old man then, but I told him goodbye at the bus station. Dennis:          Did you hug? Ed:                  Yes, yes, we did. Dennis:          Were there tears? Ed:                  There were some tears, there were some tears. Dennis:          What did he say to you? Ed:                  I don't know that I can remember what he said, but I'm sure that the advice that he gave me, he was a fine Christian man, and I'm sure it was some good, solid advice that he was giving me. Bob:                Why the Marines?  Why did you pick them instead of the Army or the Navy or the Air Force? Ed:                  I wondered sometimes why if I picked the wrong one, but I really don't know.  I even considered, after I got in the Marine Corps, that I would be a paratrooper.  After I got through sea school, then they said – after I got through boot camp, they said, "You're going to sea school," and I didn't know what that meant, either, but I went through sea school, and then they said, "You're going aboard a large combatant ship," and so I waited, then, until the Indianapolis was in port and caught it at San Francisco. Dennis:          Before you left to join the Marines, you made another decision that was a life-altering decision. Ed:                  Yes, I did.  Yes, I did.  On the 1st of August, 1943, already a Marine and yet hadn't shown up even for my boot camp, I went to church on that Lord's Day morning, and seeming the Lord was saying to me, "Your last chance, your last chance," and the preacher preached a message, and he gave an invitation, he pronounced the benediction, and I sat there, I knew that my heart was not right with the Lord, and knowing that I was going into combat soon that I had to get things right with the Lord.  I know the pastor came back and sat down by me there.  Everyone else had left the building except two people – one was my wife later to be, and my mother-in-law later to be, and they were back in the back of the building there praying, and the pastor turned to a Scripture, Acts 16:31, which simply says, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shall be saved."  He said, "Ed, do you believe that?" Well, I was brought up in a Christian home and Sunday school, church all the time, but really never trusted the Lord as my own personal Savior.  And so he goes over that a time or two, and he said, "Ed, God who cannot lie, is making you a promise, and He simply says believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, the finished work of Christ on the cross for you, and He promises to save you."  And then he would look at me and said, "Do you believe that?"  And I said, "Yes, I believe that," and he said, "But does the Lord save you?"  "No."  Well, he went over it a time or two and there, in the quietness of that little pew there in the church, I trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Savior.                         So later now, when I'm getting into the story of the actual sinking of the ship, I could really look back and rely on the faith and trust that I had in the Lord to care for me, even there in the water those days. Dennis:          Yeah, in fact, there's a line in your book, which basically says this – "The same Jesus Christ who became my Savior was now going to be the same Jesus Christ who saved my life." Ed:                  That's right.  When I actually left the ship, you know, abandoned the ship, I trusted the same Lord to take care of me there as I stepped over the railing and stepped into the water, and brought up in a Christ home and knew some Scripture.  But the Lord brought to mind there as I was about to abandon ship and seeing many of the boys actually jumping on each other in a desperate rush to get off the ship, and I hung onto that rail for a little while, and I prayed and oftentime I say when I give talks is that there's times when you pray, and there's times when you pray, and there is a difference.  And there I prayed that somehow the Lord would see me through what lie ahead, and yet I had the foggiest idea that I'm going to be out there for four-and-a-half days.                         But here from memory of His Word that he brought to mind – "Peace I give unto you not as the world give unto you, let not your heart to be troubled.  Don't be afraid."  And yet I'm scared to death.  And as I left the ship, then I left with the assurance I felt – God didn't speak to me in any audible form in any way, but just the assurance that I had from repeating His Word back to my heart, I knew that He was going to care for me. Dennis:          You did end up joining the Marines then, and you boarded the USS Indianapolis in San Francisco. Ed:                  In San Francisco. Dennis:          At that point, you had not been to war, you had not been in any battles, but that was soon to change, wasn't it? Ed:                  That's right.  Of course, to get aboard a large combatant ship like that, you know, that ship, you know, was 610 feet, 8 3/4 inches, and four or five stories high, and that's going to be my home, you know, for a time.  And then after I got aboard, then to see all those big guns that I'm going to have to learn how to fire those things, and I think I say in my book the biggest gun that I'd ever fired was a double-barreled shotgun, and yet here I'm going to be firing five-inch guns and 40 millimeter guns, so I'll be trained to do those things.                         Then I was at Saipan – actually, I was at Enewetak and Kwajalein Islands there in the Marshalls, then the first, really, combat was at Saipan then at Tinian and at Guam.  The sea battle of the Philippine Seas, that was at Palau, at Iwo Jima, at Okinawa, and later three air strikes on Tokyo and then, lastly, I was Marine guard that guarded the two atomic bomb – components of the bombs that we took over to our B-29 base on the island of Tinian. Bob:                And you didn't know, when you got on board the Indianapolis in San Francisco Harbor, you didn't know what else was on board with you.  You didn't know that you had … Ed:                  We did not know. Bob:                … the two atomic bombs that were going to be dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Ed:                  We knew it was top-secret cargo.  We understood, even, that the captain of the ship didn't know what we had; that he had been told that what he had, we needed to get it to the forward area – that every hour would save lives, and I was a guard that guarded – or, actually, I was a corporal of the guard, and I stationed guards both on the two places that we had the components of the bomb. Bob:                San Francisco to Tinian – how long a trip is that in the water? Ed:                  We made a record speed run.  We traveled those 5,400 or so miles in 10 days. Bob:                Wow. Ed:                  So, can you imagine a heavy cruiser traveling, like, 32 miles an hour across the Pacific?  So we made a record speed run to Tinian Island and got rid of our cargo. Dennis:          And you got rid of the cargo, made the turn, and you were to participate with another ship? Ed:                  We received orders at CENPAC there in Guam, the Central Pacific Command, to proceed to the Philippines, but we were to – yes, we were to join up with the USS Idaho, I think, three days later, to make a gun re-practice as we went into the Philippines, because the main invasion of Japan was to take place in November of '45. Dennis:          We're not going to go into the detail that surrounds, really, a great controversy about the USS Indianapolis, because some information was withheld about the enemy being in the waters – enemy subs – and you guys sailed into harm's way without realizing it.  But you were in the process of making your way to join up with the USS Idaho, and it was really an uneventful trip.  You weren't even going all that fast at that point, right? Ed:                  As I mentioned, we had traveled 32 knots going into Tinian, and then when we received orders then to go on to the Philippines, Captain McVay requested, or they gave him permission to travel only at 17 knots, to slow down, because we had nearly burned the motors up, you know, getting the cargo over.  So we had slowed back to 17 knots going on to the Philippines. Dennis:          You were one day away from connecting with the USS Idaho, and was it the middle of the night? Ed:                  Well, we were to have met them the next day in the daytime, but we encountered Commander Hoshimoto at about five minutes after midnight on the night of July 30, 1945. Bob:                Now, where were you when that happened?  Were you asleep in your bunk? Ed:                  No, the Indianapolis was a pretty modern ship, but we did not have air-conditioning, and in order to get any sleep at night, you went topside.  So I was on watch 'til 12:00.  At 12:00 I went to my locker, and I got my blanket, and I went topside, and I went up under the barrels of number 1 turret, and I took off my shoes and used kind of the arch of my shoe as a pillow, and I rolled up in my blanket, and it was about five minutes or so after midnight that the first explosion, we took the first torpedo.  And about as long as it would take Commander Hoshimoto to say, "Fire one, fire two," and he fired six, but two of them hit us, and the first one cut the bow of the ship off.  If you could see the picture of the ship, you could see that those barrels on number 1 turret, forward big 8-inch guns, they're about 18 feet long, and I'm sleeping right down on the deck under the barrels of those guns and looking forward of me, maybe 25, 30 feet or so, the bow of the ship is cut off – about 50 feet.  Some said 65 feet, but I don't think it was that much.  I think it was more of a 40 feet or so.  The bow of the ship was cut off, so we became a funnel, then, as we were moving through the water, and then the second explosion then was aft of me, nearly midship and close to the marine compartment, and it made a big gaping hole.                         And, of course, since we had no air conditioning, we were traveling at a – you might say, at an open condition in that all of our bulkheads down below were open, and they had to be open or else we would suffocate without air conditioning.  So that was a death blow, likewise, because as we were moving forward in the water, all of that water … Dennis:          It just poured in the front. Ed:                  It was rushing in, and even before I could get back to my emergency station, which was back at midship, the bow of the ship is already under.  I mean, the deck of the bow of the ship, like, the first 100 yards or so, is already under. Dennis:          Was there still light on the ship at this point, or had the torpedoes knocked out the electricity. Ed:                  All the electricity was knocked out. Dennis:          So you're in the middle of the night … Ed:                  But we had light in that there was an inferno below decks.  They say that number 2 turret took a hit, and the magazine in number 2 turret had exploded and came through all the way up so that it was just a big fire, a big blaze, coming up through there.  And then most other places below decks forward of midship was an inferno.  And so you get a certain amount of light, you know, from that. Dennis:          You said when the torpedoes hit, and the boat blew up, blew the front end off, that there was a huge amount of water that went up in the air, and it drenched you and ultimately kept you from burning up? Ed:                  I think two things – number one, of course, I believe in the providence of God, number one.  I had the blanket around me, and that protected me, no doubt, maybe from much of the blast of the fire at the first explosion, and then all of the water, then, from that first explosion that went up in the air, I don't know I could imagine 50 to 100 feet plus, then all of that coming back down.  Well, I was drenched, you know, with all the water, as it came back down, and that kind of protected me somewhat, I'm sure, from much of the flash burn that many were getting. Bob:                Ed, when something like that happens, it's disorienting at first.  You're thinking, "Did something explode down in the engine room," you're kind of trying to get your bearings.  How long do you think it was before you realized, "We're under attack, we've been hit," and you caught a sense of what was going on? Ed:                  I think immediately when we were hit, I wondered, "We aren't firing at anyone," and then just those three explosions, and no one now is firing back at us.  So we had to have either hit a mine or we had to have been hit by a torpedo.  And then realizing nearly immediately that forward part of the ship was cut off, and I could hear the bulkheads breaking down below and they, to me, were a death blow.  You could imagine, you know, with all that water, with the ship still moving 17 knots or so, and the funnel there coming – all of the water coming in, and the bulkheads breaking, you knew that the ship was doomed, and as I began to make my way, then, back to my emergency station, which was back to midship, and there were those that were coming from internally coming out, and that part of the ship, really, was kind of the officers' quarters up there. Many of those were in the flash burns, and as they came out, literally, flesh was hanging from their face and from their arms, and they were in panic and begging for someone to give them some help.  But, you know, that's not my responsibility, and I have to make my way to my emergency station, which was on the quarterdeck.  And, of course, when I get to the quarterdeck, then, I'm realizing that the ship is already under forward part, and there's no question that it's sinking.  So as word actually came to abandon ship, I had made my way to the port side, and there on the quarterdeck, there's a steel cable, a rail, as we call it, and I got ahold of the rail, and I hung on there and said my prayer, you know, before I actually stepped over the rail and stepped about two big, long steps and jumped into the water feet first. My kapok jacket then came up over my head.  If you could visualize that the deck of the ship now is listing so that you step over, and you walk down the keel of the ship, walk down the side of ship, and so I could have nearly walked to the water, but I walked down closer to the water, and then jumped in feet first and then began to come up and push that oil back that was on the water and then to try to get my head up above that, and then swam away from the ship about maybe 50 yards, and then we began to congregate, you know, in little groups.  The ship had still been moving, so boys had been getting off maybe for two or three or four minutes.  I actually watched the ship as she went under. Bob:                Did you think this was it for you? Ed:                  I wondered, and yet I really felt – and I don't say this in any boasting way of any kind, but I really had the assurance that somehow, some way, that I would make it. Dennis:          You felt like God … Ed:                  I felt assurance that – "Don't be afraid, don't be afraid.  I'm with you," and I think when you hear all of my story, you'll see the various times that He came to my assurance that "I'm still with you," all the way through – the different things that happened for the next three days. Bob:                Yes, and we're going to hear the rest of your story over the next couple of days.  Of course, it is told in the book that you've written called "Out of the Depths," which is a compelling story of God's faithfulness in the midst of remarkable adversity, and I want to encourage our listeners, you can get a copy of the book from us when you contact us here at FamilyLife.                           Go to our website at FamilyLife.com.  Down at the bottom of the screen there's a button there that says, "Go."  You click on that button, it will take you right to a page where you can find information about ordering Ed's book.  Again, it's called "Out of the Depths."  We also have our conversation this week with Ed Harrell available on CD.                           We also have a book that our friend, Chip Ingram, has written that is a reflection on pivotal chapters from the Psalms where David experienced the same thing that you've talked about, Ed, which is the presence of God in the midst of trial and adversity.  He's written a book called "I Am With You Always."  It's a book that reminds us that the Lord is faithful to hear the cry of our heart; that He is there for us in times of great trial like you experienced.                          In fact, any of our listeners who wanted to get your book and Chip's book together, we'd send them the CD that has our conversation with you.  We'd send it along at no additional cost.  Again, go to our website, FamilyLife.com, click the "Go" button at the bottom of the screen.  That will take you right to the page where there is more information.  Or call 1-800-FLTODAY.  That's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, and we've got folks on our team who will be happy to let you know how you can have these resources sent to you.                         You know, speaking of resources, Dennis, one of the most requested resources we've had in our FamilyLife Resource Center this year has been two CDs from a conversation you and I had with Shaunti Feldhahn.  She wrote a book called "For Women Only."  It was based on the research she had done, conversations with more than 1,000 men about the deepest needs and the deepest longing in men's hearts.  And that conversation really resonated with a number of our listeners.  This month we are making that two-CD set available to any of our listeners who would contact us in August to make a donation of any amount to the ministry of FamilyLife Today.                         It's our way of saying thank you for helping to support this ministry.  We are listener-support, and it's your donations that keep us on the air in this city and in cities all across the country.  So this month, if you can go online to make a donation or call 1-800-FLTODAY to make a donation, just mention that you'd like the CD set for women.  In fact, if you're donating online, when you get to the keycode box just type in "CD," those two letters, and we'll know that you want to have these CDs sent to you.                         Again, our website is FamilyLife.com or you can call 1-800-FLTODAY to make a donation, and we appreciate you standing with this ministry financially.                         Well, tomorrow we're going to begin to hear the story of how Ed Harrell and others survived for four days afloat in the Pacific.  I hope our listeners can be back with us for that.                         I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  We'll see you tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.                          FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.  ________________________________________________________________ We are so happy to provide these transcripts to you.  However, there is a cost to transcribe, create, and produce them for our website.  If you’ve benefited from the broadcast transcripts, would   you consider donating today to help defray the costs?   Copyright © FamilyLife.  All rights reserved. www.FamilyLife.com

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4 Jan 2020

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Stranded in Shark Infested Waters (Part 2) - Ed Harrell

Dennis & Barbara's Top 25 All-Time Interviews

Listen to Part 1Listen to Part 2Listen to Part 3Listen to Part 4 FamilyLife Today® Radio Transcript References to conferences, resources, or other special promotions may be obsolete. Out of the Depths  Day 2 of 4 Guest:                           Ed Harrell From the Series:         Mercy at Sea ________________________________________________________________ Bob:                Sixty years ago this week, Ed Harrell was afloat in the Pacific.  His ship, the cruiser USS Indianapolis, had been sunk by Japanese torpedoes.  Many of the crew members had not escaped. Those who had, found themselves battling for their lives on the open seas with no help in sight.  What was in sight were sharks. Ed:                  You can't imagine, and I can't explain, you know, the feeling that you have.  You know that at any moment that the shark could get you, and you wonder, you know, am I going to be next?  You know, you pray and you pray more, and you pour your heart out to the Lord, and just hope and pray that somehow, some way, that He will be faithful to the promise that you feel that He's made to you and that you'll be able to endure. Bob:                This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, August 2nd.  Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  We'll hear a powerful story today of courage and faith as we speak with one of the survivors of the USS Indianapolis.                         And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us.  I somehow missed this in my study of U.S. history.  I don't know that I ever was aware that on the night of July 30, 1945, just weeks before the end of World War II, a Japanese submarine, I-58, launched a spread of torpedoes at the USS Indianapolis in the Pacific Theater. Two of those torpedoes found their mark and, in less than 15 minutes, this cruiser sank in the Marianas, and there were almost 1,200 men on board the ship.  More than 800 of those men did not survive the attack or the days that followed that attack.  And I don't know, Dennis, that I'd ever heard about that battle or about the sinking of the ship, but it's truly a compelling story, especially when you consider that some 300 men were rescued days later. Dennis:          Yes, and we have one of those men who was rescued back with us.  Ed Harrell joins us again on FamilyLife Today.  Ed, welcome back. Ed:                  Thank you. Dennis:          I want to express my appreciation for you, as a veteran, just for serving our nation and also for coming here on our broadcast and telling the story, a dramatic story, of what has to be one of the most phenomenal survival stories, really, Bob, in all of the World War II and maybe in the history of the United States.  I mean, what you had to endure and go through.  But we'll get to that in just a moment.                          Ed is a businessman, was on the board of trustees of Moody Bible for a number of years.  He and his wife Ola [ph] have a couple of children and a number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and he is a survivor of the USS Indianapolis.  Ed, I want you to take our listeners back, because you shared earlier the story of standing on the deck of this boat – this great, massive boat, over 600 feet long, at midnight as it's sinking in less than 15 minutes.  What were you hearing at that moment?  It's pitch black, there's a little bit of light from the fires that are burning midship, but what was the sound like?  Was it of screams of people?  Were there explosions? Ed:                  There were still explosions going on for a good while.  In fact, when the ship actually went under there were still explosions that were taking place below deck.  I don't know that I'm waiting to listen to see what might be taking place.  I am eager to get off, and I make my way, then, to the port side and hung onto that rail and said my prayer before I entered into the water, and I knew, beyond any shadow of doubt, that the Lord had, through the Spirit, was bearing witness with my spirit that He was with me and that I would make it, somehow, some way.                           I know, later on, when I was interviewed, they asked me, "What were you thinking out there?  Did you think that you were going to make it?"  And I said, "I thought of the 30-day leave that I would get for being a survivor and be able to go home," because I hadn't been home for a good while, and I was thinking about going home, frankly. Bob:                You had one what you've described as a kapok jacket, a life preserver, is that what that was? Ed:                  That's right. Bob:                And I guess I'm wondering – were there lifeboats on board the ship?  Were there inflatable rafts?  Was it "man the lifeboats?" Ed:                  No word of that kind was given.  In fact, you didn't have time, they didn't have time.  I could look up and see life rafts hanging, and those kapok jackets hanging, but no word was given to cut those loose, and I never saw a life raft.  There were floater nets, likewise, that later floated up, and they spread them out, and boys could somewhat stand in those – not completely, but at least it would keep the sharks from coming up through after them.  And then the life rafts, then, some of those floated loose, but I never saw a raft, I never saw one in the water the whole time. Dennis:          That first moment you hit the water, you burst through the surface, you got clear of the oil so you could breathe.  Did you begin swimming away from the sinking ship at that point?  I mean, again, to those of us who are laymen, a ship going down is supposed to create some kind of vacuum or – and suck survivors back down after it.  Did that occur? Ed:                  That was my thinking, and I was I a rush – not necessarily a good swimmer, but I was in a rush to get away from the ship, and I got away from it maybe 50 yards, then, to turn, then, to watch it as it sank.  I could still hear some explosions as it was going under.  Then, actually, as the ship went under, and all of that water that was in the bow, you know, you can imagine the ship is going down and all the water in there, as it's pushing up through the ship, the ship is giving a real – I call it kind of a whissing sound in that that area is pushing out, and a tremendous amount of air is coming out of the ship as it went under, and I could hear that.  But that was about – no suction.  Different ones claim that they actually were pulled under and some with kapok jackets were pulled under, and then the kapok jacket then pulled them back up.  So it wasn't the suction that I had been led to believe that would be the case in such a sinking. Bob:                And it's the middle of summer in the South Pacific, so I'm imagining that water temperature may have been warm?  Although you had a blanket around you when you were on board ship.  Was it chilly? Ed:                  Well, we were traveling, you know, right out in the open about 17 knots, so 15 miles an hour, so to speak, and I needed that blanket around me to keep the chill off of me, because it would be a little chilly and, yes, at night the water was cool.  In fact, the water in the Pacific at that time was about 85 degrees and, of course, if you stay in the water, you know, long, at 85 degrees then your body temperature is going to drop to 85 degrees or close to that.                         Yet, in the daytime, then, you're going to warm up to 100 degrees.  So you burn up in the daytime, and you're desperate for water because you're swimming most of the time.  You're either swimming to stay in a group, or you're swimming to get back into a group when you've come upon a swell, and you've kind of been separated.  And you can imagine, you know, when we had 50 or 70 or so boys, and you go up on a swell 20-feet high, and that breaks away, then you're separated maybe by 50 yards.  So just nearly immediately, even the first day, we learned that we needed to take our kapok jackets and kind of hook onto each other and stay and keep – even keep some of those – in fact, we had some that didn't have life jackets, and we had some boys that were injured, and we'd try to keep them in the center of our group or else we were separated completely. Bob:                How big was your group that you were linked together with?  That first night you swam over to a group and I'm sure started talking about what do we do and how do we prepare for whatever is ahead.  How many guys were around you? Ed:                  There were 80 in our – the best that we could count, there were 80 in our group and, of course, again, it's night, right after midnight, but the best that we could take inventory, there were 80 of us.  I had two other Marines with me, and one of them had been blown up against the bulkhead.  He had multiple breaks in his body, and he couldn't stand for me to even hardly touch him, to give him any assistance.  But he did have a life jacket, and then the other Marine buddy, then, had gone into the water head first and had gotten all that oil, then, in his eyes, and he's going to suffer with that, now, the next few days – tremendous suffering that he experienced the next few days. Dennis:          Do you remember the dawn on that first morning? Ed:                  I can remember the dawn very well the first morning, because we had company.  We had sharks, and we had lost maybe a dozen or so boys that night … Dennis:          … of the 80? Ed:                  Of the 80, and yet we still had their kapoks and them with us, and then sometime, then, up in the morning there – I don't recall just exactly how and when we did it, but we removed their dogtags and someone supposedly kept those, and then we released them and gave them, you know, a so-called proper burial there at sea, and someone – there was an officer or two there with us that someone would say The Lord's Prayer, and that was about the extent of their burial, and then – it was up in the day, maybe a little bit later before the sharks really began to come around us too much.  And, really, they didn't seem to want to attack our group.  As long as we stayed in a group, they didn't bother our group. But if someone would stray from the group – and that's another reason why we tried to fasten ourselves together and form a circle to keep everyone intact – if someone would break loose and swim out, then, all of a sudden, you would hear a bloodcurdling scream, and you'd look and see that kapok jacket went under, and then suddenly, then, it would come back up and there would be sharks and there would be fighting over the remains there for a little bit.  So that began to take place all that first day. Dennis:          That had to be absolutely terrifying.  I mean – I can't even begin to fathom how fear would grip an individual but also a group of people.  I mean, you'd see the dorsal fins above the surface, circling you? Ed:                  We'd see them circling us and nearly, at any given time, if maybe you didn't see them, and you'd wonder, "Well, maybe they've gone."  Just put your head in the water and, of course, you could see them – you know, maybe there would be 20, you know, 12, 15-foot sharks swimming around down under you.  Whether they are attacking you or not, you know, you're still frightened to death.  They would be swimming under you and around you and even through the group.  Then, you know, you draw your feet up tight, you draw your gut up, and you're so tense that – well, you can't imagine, and I can't explain, you know, the feeling that you have when you know that at any moment that the shark could get you. And maybe the next moment, your buddy that's within five feet of you, a shark hits him and takes a leg off or disembowels him or an arm is gone, and yet you wonder, you know, "Am I going to be next?"  And yet, you know, you pray more, and and you pour your heart out to the Lord, and just hope and pray that somehow, some way, that He will be faithful to the promise that you feel that He's made to you, and that you'll be able to endure.  But you wonder, too, how much longer, you know, can you endure?  And then when you see, you know, maybe by the second day that 20 of them or so are gone, and by the third day at noon, there are 17 of us. I had a sailor come up to me and said, "Hey, Marine, see that island over there?  I just came from over there."  He said, "Captain Parks [ph], Lieutenant Stouffer [ph], Sergeant Cromley [ph], they're over there.  They're having a picnic.  They want you to come over," and, you know, you would hear him, and you would think that he knows exactly what he's talking about but, you know, you've seen what's been happening here for these two days and see the boys that had succumbed to drinking some of the their salt water and then see, within 15 minutes, after they have had a good drink of salt water, you'd see them begin to hallucinate and begin to thrash in the water and begin to scream and yell and just all kinds of contortions, and then you knew what is going to happen. I know this one that saw my Marine buddies out there, he swam away, and he got away maybe 25 yards and, all of a sudden, that bloodcurdling scream, and I looked to see, and saw that kapok jacket go under, and a little bit later then the kapok comes back up with part of the body still fastened to the kapok jacket. Bob:                There had to be just an ongoing cycle of fear and grief.  I mean, fear because sharks are all around you.  You don't know if there's anybody that even knows you're out there, what's going to happen to you?  And then the grief – these are buddies.  These are guys you lived on board ship with, even if you hadn't met them before, for the last 24 hours, you've been in the water with these guys.  You're in a foxhole, and to watch them swim away and watch a shark take their life over and over again.   Ed:                  That's right. Bob:                The grief in your heart – how did you handle that emotional trauma? Ed:                  You had to keep praying, and I know my one Marine buddy that actually did make it – not in my group – later, he left us, and – but, anyway, he was a survivor, and he tells in his testimony that Harrell – I actually was his squad leader, and he said, "Harrell, he was always praying and quoting Scripture," and he called me a hard-shell Christian.  I told him later, I said, "You could have called me a hard-head Christian.  But he called me a "hard-headed Christian.  He was always praying and quoting Scripture."                         And he was asked, "Do you think that did any good?  Did that help to save you?"  And he said, "Well, we survived, and I think it did." Dennis:          You quoted the 23rd Psalm over and over and over again. Ed:                  Right. Dennis:          That brought comfort to your soul? Ed:                  You know, when you think of the psalm, you say, "The Lord is my shepherd, He maketh me to lie down" – the words "He" the personal pronoun, the Lord.  And then after you say it a time or two, then you say, "The Lord is MY shepherd.  He maketh ME to lie down in green pastures."  And so you apply it to your own heart, and then you feel that He hears you and that He responds and then you see a buddy then go, and then you're spared, and then you feel that the Lord, that somehow, some way, has given you assurance that He's still with you, that you're going to make it.                         And then on the second day, you know, when you're so thirsty that you're tongue begins to swell in your mouth, and you get to where you can't talk properly, and you're praying for water, swimming in it, but you know that you can't drink it, you know the poison that it contains, especially in a dehydrated body, and you've seen your buddies drink some of that.  I saw boys, as they would hold – tear off some of their clothing and take some water and put it up in that piece of cloth and put their head down under it and drink some of that, thinking that maybe it's got some of the salt out.  They were desperate for water.  And yet maybe in 15 minutes, then you begin to see them jerk and quiver and thrash in the water, and then they began to be not too coherent, and they began to imagine all kinds of things. And so I knew I couldn't drink that, but then you pray for water, and it was sometime that second day that we had prayed and even as a group we prayed.  I often say that there's no such thing as an atheist in foxholes and no atheist out there.  Everybody either prayed, or they would ask you to pray, and we prayed.  And so we're praying for water.  We have to have it, or else we aren't going to survive, we think.  And then after our little prayer meeting, then to look up and see a little cloud out in the distance, and seeing, as it got closer and closer, and as it got closer, you know, you could see that it's raining.  And you open your mouth heavenward, you know, and you thank the Lord, and you take your hands, and you put up to your mouth, and you kind of funnel the water as that little cloud moved over.  I don't know whether I got two or three tablespoons full of water, but nevertheless I got some water there on that second day, and then there were other reminders later in the other days where the Lord gave me assurance that He was with me. Dennis:          It's been 60 years.  I'm listening to you tell this story with emotion that seems as fresh as though it happened yesterday – the Lord is my Shepherd, He leadeth me, He restores. Ed:                  Right. Dennis:          And, you know, in hearing your story, there has to be listeners right now who may not be in the middle of an ocean, but they're in the middle of a crisis, and they're encircled, and it's pain, it's panic, it's chaos, it's bedlam.  The Lord is still the same Good Shepherd.  He invites you to come unto Him, and He'll lead you beside the quiet streams and the green pastures, and He will restore.  But you have to take Him at His word, and you have to pray that prayer, Ed, like you prayed – "The Lord is MY shepherd," I am praising, He does lead me and for that person right now, I just would invite you.  Maybe you've given the 23rd Psalm 100 times, maybe you've read it, memorized it, maybe it's time to believe it and to express it. Bob:                I don't know if you've seen it, but our friend, Chip Ingram, has written a new book called "I Am With You Always," which explores pivotal chapters from the Psalms, and the design is to help all of us understand that in the midst of adversity, in the midst of trial – King David went through great trials.  God was with him.  When we go through trials, God is with us.  When you went through your trials out in the Pacific 60 years ago this week, God was with you, Ed.                           And we've got Chip's book in our FamilyLife Resource Center.  In fact, we've got the book you wrote, as well, called "Out of the Depths," which tells the story of the sinking of the Indianapolis and your survival of that disaster.  Any of our listeners who want to contact us to get both of those books, we'll send you at no additional cost the CDs that have our conversation this week with Ed Harrell.  And, in fact, they have expanded material, because we are not able to include all of the interview in our broadcast time.  So you'll get the complete interview with Ed Harrell when you contact us.                         Go to our website, FamilyLife.com.   At the bottom of the screen you'll see a little button that says "Go" with "Today's Resources" around it.  Click that button, it will take you right to the page where you can get more information about these resources.  You can order online.  Again, the website is FamilyLife.com, and you click the "Go" button at the bottom of the screen.  Or if it's easier to call, you can call 1-800-FLTODAY.  That's 1-800-358-6329, 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, and someone on our team can help you get these resources sent out to you.                         When you do contact us, if you're able to make a donation for the ministry of FamilyLife Today during the month of August, there is an additional resource we would love to send you as a thank you gift.  Back a few months ago, we had a conversation with Shaunti Feldhahn, who is the author of a book called "For Women Only."  We featured that interview on FamilyLife Today back in the spring, and it was immediately well received by our listeners.  I think they found it very helpful.  Shaunti had done research with more than 1,000 men, asking them about what is at the core of what a man needs in a relationship with his wife, and some of the responses were surprising, very revealing.  We'd like to send those two CDs to you as our way of saying thank you this month when you make a donation of any amount to support the ministry of FamilyLife Today.                         Just ask for the CDs for women when you call 1-800-FLTODAY or if you're online, and you're filling out a donation form, just type the two letters "CD" in the keycode box, and that will let us know that you'd like to have the Shaunti Feldhahn CDs sent to you.  Again, our website is FamilyLife.com, or you can call 1-800-FLTODAY and, again, thanks in advance for whatever you are able to do in terms of helping with our financial needs during the month of August.                         Well, tomorrow we're going to be back to continue our conversation with Ed Harrell.  We'll hear about how you almost gave up hope on the third day that you were at sea.  In fact, some of the guys who were with you did give up hope.  We'll hear more about that tomorrow.  I hope our listeners can be back with us for that.                         I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  We'll see you tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.                          FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.  ________________________________________________________________ We are so happy to provide these transcripts to you.  However, there is a cost to transcribe, create, and produce them for our website.  If you’ve benefited from the broadcast transcripts, would   you consider donating today to help defray the costs?   Copyright © FamilyLife.  All rights reserved. www.FamilyLife.com

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4 Jan 2020

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Stranded in Shark Infested Waters (Part 3) - Ed Harrell

Dennis & Barbara's Top 25 All-Time Interviews

Listen to Part 1Listen to Part 2Listen to Part 3Listen to Part 4 FamilyLife Today® Radio Transcript References to conferences, resources, or other special promotions may be obsolete. Out of the Depths  Day 3 of 4 Guest:                        Ed Harrell From the Series:       Survival in the South Pacific  ________________________________________________________________ Bob:                Sixty years ago this week, Ed Harrell was one of a few hundred men floating in the Pacific following the sinking of the USS Indianapolis.  In the four days that he was afloat, Ed saw some of his fellow sailors drift away from the group to be eaten by sharks.  Some who tried to swim toward an imaginary shore who never came back.  For Ed, the memories are vivid. Ed:                  I can see it today, and I think maybe I'd like to look at it and say that the Lord reminds me, even today, of those incidents, and as He reminds me of those, then they help to strengthen my faith and my resolve to live a life for Him today. Bob:                This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, August 3rd.  Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  Where did Ed Harrell's hope come from when it appeared all reason for hope was gone?  Stay with us.                         And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us.  You know, we've heard a story this week, Dennis, about a ship under attack.  And then we've heard about the ongoing horror and terror of living in the middle of the ocean, bundled up with your buddies, hooked with your lifejackets to one another as the sharks encircle you in the waters and wondering, "Does anyone even know we're out here or will we die at sea?"  No food, no fresh water except for a thundercloud that comes by and gives you a little bit of a rain shower.  You hear a story like this, and you wonder where does the will to survive in the midst of that come from?  I think of myself and think, "When would I just lay my head back and say, "Okay, I'm ready to die.  I'd rather do that than keep living like this." Dennis:          Yes, in fact, there's a story that Ed Harrell, who joins us again on FamilyLife Today.  Ed, welcome back to the broadcast. Ed:                  Thank you. Dennis:          There's a story you tell, Ed, of a Marine buddy who was ready to do the very thing Bob was talking about.  He was ready to quit, and you kind of – the picture I had from reading your book was you kind of grabbed him by the life jacket and looked him in the eyes, and you gave him a reason to believe. Ed:                  I pretty much gave him an ultimatum, really, in that he had tried to convince me that he was going to commit suicide.  He'd gone into the water head first and all of that oil in his eyes and then, you know, you can imagine – you take your hand, and you try to rub that oil out, but the more you rub your eye, you're rubbing salt in, and you're kind of taking that salt that's in the water, you're grinding your eyeballs with that.  And then the sun then, you know, beaming off of that water, then through the daytime.  By the second day, Spooner was determined that he was going to commit suicide, and he mentioned that two or three times.                         Anyway, I recall that I just got ahold of Spooner, and I turned him to me, and I kind of looked him squarely in the eye, and I said, "Spooner, there's only two of we Marines out here, and whenever a sailor is gone, there's still going to be two Marines, and you're going to be one of them with me," and I kind of turned him to me, and I fashioned – hooked his lifejacket then onto mine, and I swam with him then through that night, and then – it was sometime then the third morning that he wanted me to release him, and he made a vow to me that he would fight for life as long as there was breath in him because of him being able to survive as long as he had through that night, and I released him, then, the next day. Bob:                You and some 300 of your shipmates survived in the waters in the Pacific from the time that your boat was attacked just after midnight on the 30th of July in 1945 when the Indianapolis went under in about 15 minutes.  You survived for a period of, what was it, four days, five days? Ed:                  It was four-and-a-half days, yes. Bob:                And you survived that, as you've already shared with us this week, there was – was it just a single rain shower that passed over that gave you a little bit of water? Ed:                  Right, that's all the rain that we had the whole time I was out there, that's right. Bob:                So you're in salt water, you had a few tablespoons of fresh water in a four-and-a-half day period – any food? Ed:                  Well, let's come to the next day.  The third day, when there were 17 of us, and we had literally had a prayer meeting.  I mean, nearly everybody prayed. Bob:                You'd started with 80, and now you're down to 17. Ed:                  Right.   Dennis:          The sharks had picked off that many? Ed:                  That's right – well, sharks and – you mentioned somebody giving up – you know, I saw any number of boys that maybe at one minute you'd think, "Well, they're still alive," and just a little bit later you'd see that they just all of a sudden – seemingly, they just allowed their head to drop into the water, and they didn't have the energy to raise up, and they didn't care.  I recall that third day that we had had a prayer meeting, and everyone nearly was praying, and some would ask that you would pray for them, you know, they had – some had some children back home that they had never seen, and so on, and they were desperate to make it.  And, you know, "If you make it, and I don't make it, will you go by and see my family" and – "but don't tell them the gruesome things that are happening."                         Anyway, we'd had a prayer meeting, and we got through with a prayer meeting there on that third day, and then we came upon the swell, and we looked off to a distance, and we could see that there looked like a little makeshift of a raft that was coming into our group.  And after a period of time, we yelled at them, and they back at us, and it wasn't long until they made it into our group.  There were five sailors, and they had a makeshift of a raft consisting of, like, two 40-millimeter ammunition cans and three crates, like, a wooden slatted potato crate or an orange crate.  And as they came into our group, I recognized that there were lifejackets that they had taken off of boys that had already expired, and they had squeezed those out the best that they could, because a life – a kapok jacket will last, maybe, 48 hours, but we've already long passed that.                         So when they came in our group, they said that they were swimming to the Philippines; that if we could get close enough to the Philippines that maybe someone would see us.  And, at that time, we were nearly convinced that no word had gotten out, and yet 50 years later we found out that it did.  But, anyway, they wanted to know if anyone wanted to join them – swim to the Philippines, pushing that little raft. Bob:                That was hundreds of miles away, right? Ed:                  Probably 500 miles.  We didn't know that.  So I looked at my buddy, Spooner, and I said, "Spooner, I'm going to go.  I'm going to join them," and he said, "Harrell, if you go, I'm going to go," and so here are two Marines and five sailors began to say goodbye to our 15 other sailors, and we're going to swim to the Philippines, we thought.  So here we start. Dennis:          Was there anything said by the guys you left?  Did they say, "That's foolish to do that? Ed:                  They did.  They thought it was foolish.  They said the sharks will get you, and, well, you know, they've already gotten the bigger part of us, and there was really no – seemingly, no advantage to just stay and somewhat hope against hope and do what we can. Dennis:          So you swam out past the perimeter where those sharks had been circling that group of boys? Ed:                  We left our group and, after an hour or two, then, swimming, actually, I recall that after we had gone a distance we could see the sun setting in the west, and we thought, "Well, we'll be able to see the moon, we'll be able to see the Southern Cross, we'll be able to see the sun now as it sets, and we can tell that we're going to the Philippines, and the Philippines are big enough that we're bound to get in close enough that someone will see us."                         Well, after we had gone a good distance, we came upon a swell, and I could look off into at a distance, and I saw some debris out at the starboard side out maybe a couple of hundred yards or so, and a 100 yards ahead of us, and I called it to the attention of the others.  And at first we thought, "Well, it's one of our buddies out there," but then as we got closer, we could tell that it was debris of some kind, not one of ours, and so, you know, you pray for food.  What's the possibility, you know, could there be food out there, and so we prayed.  And I know I said, "I tell you what, if you'll keep going straight, I'm going to swim out and get that.  If it's just a crate, then we'll bring it in and fasten it onto our others here, but let's hope and pray that it could be food."                         Well, they thought I was foolish again, because the sharks maybe would get a straggler out there, but, really, I felt a real compelling force that says, "Go for it.  Go and see what it might be."  And I know, as I swam and got closer and closer to that crate, I'm praying for food, I'm praying for water, anything, you know, and as I got close enough that I could see those potatoes in that crate.  Kind of in desperation, I didn't pause to thank the Lord for what I'm about to eat but, in desperation, I'm making my way to those potatoes, and I reached in to get that first potato.  Kind of in the agony of defeat, all that rotten potato began to squeeze through my fingers, and as I kind of squeezed that in despair then, all of a sudden, it was solid potato on the inside.  You know, that was some food that I needed, some starch, and some water in that.                         Then I began to peel some of them, then, and fill my dungaree pockets full, and then I began to make my way back, then, to my buddies, with still a lot of potatoes in the crate.  We had a feast.  Oftentimes, I talk to young people, I say, you know, we had a picnic and no ants to bother us. Dennis:          You had sharks, though. Ed:                  We had sharks, we had sharks. Dennis:          You describe in your book that on more than one occasion, the sharks would be circling, and you would look up, and there would be a dorsal fin headed straight toward you. Ed:                  Right.  I know, many times, I had a fin coming straight toward me.  I knew that I was looking into eternity the next second, and yet as he got to me, he just went under, and I felt the dorsal fin as it hit me, and then him to go by.  And maybe then – momentarily then – another one would come through and take a buddy next to you, and yet the Lord, you know, spared me, and, you know, you have to be so mindful of all that the Lord does for you through your life and especially on occasions like that. Bob:                Did you ever lose hope?  Day 4 – the fourth night you've been through, did you ever think, "We're not going to make it.  We're going to die out here." Ed:                  Oh, I'm sure I thought that many times.  I wondered how much longer can a body really endure.  I lost about 27 pounds there in those four days, and, you know, how much more can you endure? Dennis:          Hold it – 27 pounds.  How do you lose 27 pounds in four days? Ed:                  I don't know.  There's others that say that they lost 30 or 40 pounds.  But, you know, dehydration does that to you and then, of course, you might think that we aren't swimming all the time, but basically we are swimming or fighting to be able to stay erect and to not allow the water to slosh over on us and get us strangled and cause us to drink the water.  So you're fighting the situation all the time and especially in the daytime, you know, the swells and all. Bob:                You're trying to stay on top of the swells, keep your head up above the water. Ed:                  That's right. Dennis:          Ed, I listened to your ordeal, and you describe in your book how, at this point, it was Wednesday evening.  You'd been in the water 66 hours.  You had to be near death, and your spirit had to be, as Bob was talking about, losing hope.  And yet, as you dawned on the fourth day, all this group of men that you started out with, you're down to one man, right? Ed:                  At the end of the fourth day, right. Dennis:          How did that happen?   Ed:                  Well, I think it would be fair if I back up just a little bit and say that the night before, when we had the raft, and there were five sailors, two Marines, as it got dark that night, we couldn't go; we couldn't see the Southern Cross, we couldn't see the moon, so along about midnight that night, I know we were just hanging onto the raft, didn't know which way to go, and then we hear voices.                           Now, there's times when I think there's some that heard voices, but we were actually hearing some boys, and we knew it had to be ours, and so we began to respond to them – holler out to them and they to us, and so sometime that night, then, there was a Navy lieutenant and I don't know how many as they came into our group, they kind of came in straggling one at a time, so to speak, and as they came in, I think there were maybe five boys, and Lieutenant McKissock, Charles McKissock from Texas, anyway, he convinced us that he was, likewise, swimming to the Philippines.  He said if we can get close enough then maybe someone will see us.  Then we tried to tell him that we were trying to go there with the raft, and at first he convinced us that the raft would be a deterrent, that it would slow us down, but we said, "Yeah, but we've got a spare tire," as we put it.  We've got spare life jackets on the top.                         And the next thing, maybe, that happened right immediately was that there was a certain Marine that had a pocketful of Irish potatoes that began to take the potatoes out of his pocket and share those with McKissock and the others, and then I don't know what happened after that.  I really don't know what happened before morning.  The only thing that I know is that next morning I'm not with Spooner, not with my buddy, Spooner.  I'm not with the raft; I'm not with the boys that I was with.  I'm with Navy Lieutenant McKissock and one other sailor. And now my life jacket will not hold my head out of the water, and I'm having to constantly swim, trying to keep my head above the water, and sometimes in that fourth day that's one of the times that I wondered if I wasn't gone, there, that fourth day, no doubt it got still.  I'm just exhausted and got still or something or the other and, all of a sudden, something hit me, and I just knew it was a shark.  I fell out of the kapok jacket, fell into the water, and, in desperation, the only hope that I had, I guess, was to get that life jacket back down under me, and I was struggling to get that back down under me, knowing that at any time that a shark is going to attack me.  Bu then, as I finally got back into that life jacket, I'm sitting in it.  Then there was just millions on little fish then, about 8 or 10 inches long, that began to come all around me and kind of nudge against me, and the moment I saw them, I knew that they were my friends.  I knew that if they were there, the sharks weren't around me, and I did try to catch a few with my hands to have one to eat, but I was not successful.  Anyway, that was the closer part of the end of that fourth day before rescue finally came that afternoon. Dennis:          Ed, as I've listened to you take us to one dramatic scene after another, I've stared into your face, and I've watched the emotion come and go, much like the swells in the ocean, and I'm amazed here, 60 years later, you're still very emotionally tethered to the experience that you had there.  You mentioned after you had been rescued that you couldn't talk about it for a long time?  Why was that? Ed:                  I don't know that I can answer why.  I found out that I relived it each time – if I try to get into any detail or anything – I can see it today.  I mean, there is no problem of seeing what all was happening, but I try to think above that and think of the positive rather than to look at it from the standpoint that hope was gone and nothing but despair.  And then to see my buddies go as they were going. But I recall that after I was home two years, Dad's closest friend, which was a friend of the family, and one Sunday afternoon he insisted, I guess, somewhat, he began to question me and, out of respect, I think, for him, as a friend, and I started telling it, and I talked maybe for a couple of hours.  And I know when I got through my dad broke down, and he said, "Well, he's been home for two years now, and this is the first I've really known of really what happened."                         But it was the best cathartic that I could have ever experienced, really, because there it kind of set in motion, not only through the years how I've wanted to give credit to the Lord for His providence and His mercy and grace to me in my life, but I wanted to tell others somewhat of the story.  So for the past several years, I've been in, like, 14 different states now, telling, and just kind of reliving. Dennis:          Well, you're in all 50 states right now.  You're telling a lot of people the story.  Psalm 139, verses 7 through 10, I think, have a special power about them because of the scene that you have set for us here.  "Where can I go from Thy Spirit, or where can I flee from Thy presence?  If I ascend to heaven, Thou art there.  If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, Thou art there.  If I take the wings of the dawn, if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there Thy hand will lead me, and Thy right hand will lay hold of me."                         It goes on to talk about darkness overwhelming me.  The thing that – or the person who leads us in the midst of the darkness, in the midst of our chaos, our challenges, our crisis that we face, He is the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the sovereign ruler of the universe who knows the number of hairs on our head, and He cares about us, and He loves us, and He loved you.  He loved you and brought you through one of the most amazing stories I've ever heard. Bob:                You know, I can't help but reflect again on the book that our friend, Chip Ingram, has written that looks at a number of the Psalms of David and reminds us that God is with us in the midst of any affliction, and the book is called "I Am With You Always."  It's a book that we've got in our FamilyLife Resource Center, and I don't know what kind of affliction our listeners are going through, but that reminder, again, that God is with us, that He is for us, that He has not abandoned us.  There are times in life when we have to be reminded of that, and Chip's book does a great job of doing that.                           Again, it's in our FamilyLife Resource Center along with the book that you've written, Ed, which tells the story of the sinking of the Indianapolis and of your survival – four days in the Pacific.  The book is called "Out of the Depths," and we have both books in our FamilyLife Resource Center.  In fact, this week when our listeners order both books together, we will send at no additional cost the two CDs that have our conversation this week with Ed Harrell and, in fact the CDs have more of the story than we've been able to include on the broadcast because of time constraints.  It's something that the whole family can listen to as you travel this summer, or you can use it for family devotions.                         Go to our website, FamilyLife.com.  When you get to the home page, down at the bottom of the screen there's a button that says "Go."  You click on that button, it will take you right to page where you get more information about the resources we've been talking about.  You can order online, if you'd like.  Again, the website is FamilyLife.com or call 1-800-FLTODAY.  We've got folks who are standing by who can help you with more information about any of these resources, or they can take your order over the phone and get the resources sent to you.  Again, the toll-free number is 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY.                           We also want to ask you when you get in touch with us, if you're able to help with a donation this month, you need to know that FamilyLife Today is a listener-supported program, and it's donations to the ministry that keep us on the air in this city and in cities all across the country.  You also need to know that we are committed to the idea that you ought to be giving to your local church as your first priority.  So we hope that if you do get in contact with us to make a donation, you're not, in any way, taking money away from your local church.                         But as you are able to help with the financial support of this ministry in the month of August, we want to send you a thank you gift.  Back, a couple of months ago, we sat down with Shaunti Feldhahn, who is the author of a book called "For Women Only."  We had a great conversation with her about things women need to know about their husbands that many women just aren't aware of.  Shaunti had done research on the subject, and many of you got in touch with us after those interviews and requested the CDs, and we thought during the month of August we would make those CDs available to anyone who wants to make a donation of any amount to the ministry of FamilyLife Today.                          You can donate online at FamilyLife.com or you can call 1-800-FLTODAY to make a donation.  You'll need to request the CDs when you make your donation.  If you're calling, just let our team know that you want the CDs for women, and they'll send those to you.  Or you can request the CDs online.  When you get to the keycode box as you're making your donation, just type in the two letters "CD," and we'll send out the interview to you.  And, again, it's our way of saying thanks for your ongoing support of FamilyLife Today.  We appreciate you standing with us financially.                         Well, tomorrow Ed Harrell is going to be back with us to finish the story.  We're going to hear how you were spotted in the water, and it's a remarkable story of God's amazing providence.  I hope our listeners can be with us for that.                         I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  We'll see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.                          FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.  ________________________________________________________________ We are so happy to provide these transcripts to you.  However, there is a cost to transcribe, create, and produce them for our website.  If you’ve benefited from the broadcast transcripts, would   you consider donating today to help defray the costs?   Copyright © FamilyLife.  All rights reserved. www.FamilyLife.com    

24mins

4 Jan 2020

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Stranded in Shark Infested Waters (Part 4) - Ed Harrell

Dennis & Barbara's Top 25 All-Time Interviews

Listen to Part 1Listen to Part 2Listen to Part 3Listen to Part 4 FamilyLife Today® Radio Transcript References to conferences, resources, or other special promotions may be obsolete. Out of the Depths Day 4 of 4 Guest:                            Ed Harrell From the Series:         Ducks on the Pond: Rescued at Last ________________________________________________________________ Bob:                Sixty years ago this week, Ed Harrell and a number of other sailors were pulled from the Pacific.  They had survived four-and-a-half days afloat after the sinking of the USS Indianapolis.  It's four days that, as you might imagine, Ed Harrell has never been able to forget. Ed:                  I have not had nightmares.  I've had many times that I've awakened and have a vivid scene of the happenings, and yet I think my counteraction to that is "Thank you, Lord, for sparing my life and for bringing me through all of this." Bob:                This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, August 4th.  Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  We'll hear how God spared Ed Harrell's life today, and we'll hear a remarkable story about a rescue in the middle of the Pacific.                         And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us.  You know, Hollywood has told some tales of castaways left on a desert island, folks surviving in the middle of nowhere, and I've seen some of those movies, and you watch them, and they're interesting.  They have never come close to telling the story that we've heard this week. Dennis:          No, I agree, Bob.  Ed Harrell has been with us all this week and has told a story, a compelling story of how God enabled him to survive an ordeal at sea after being a crew member on the USS Indianapolis, which was sunk on the night of July 30, 1945, by a Japanese submarine, and, Ed, I want to thank you again for your service as a veteran, but also for writing this book and for taking us there and giving us a greater appreciation not just for veterans and what they've done to protect our freedom as Americans but also for taking us there and showing us what tough-minded faith in Almighty God looks like.  Because time and time again you've taken us to vivid scenes where you've been at a fork in the road where you've had to trust God, and you'd been at sea for four days in a life jacket.  You'd only had a few tablespoons of water.  You had some rotten potatoes that had come after you'd prayed for some food; been separated from your buddies, and on the fourth day you are virtually alone. Ed:                  No question.  Even with my buddy at the time and, in fact, there were three of us at the tail end there that fourth day and the one then dropped his head in the water, and he's gone, and then it's just McKissock and myself.  And my mind, by now, is beginning to fail me somewhat in that – McKissock, I know, would say to me, "Hey, Marine, you ever been to the Philippines?"  And, "No, I've never been there."  Well, he had, and he promised to kind of take me under his wing when we got there.                          And yet I knew him.  I knew who he was.  I'd served under him, and he was a peach of a guy, and yet, to me, he was Uncle Edwin, and I called him Uncle Edwin.  I had an uncle two years older than me.  I guess I was thinking of the good times in my mind with someone back home, and yet McKissock was Uncle Edwin to me.                         And then it was sometime then that afternoon, you know, we had seen the planes, heard them at 30,000 feet, and I say to McKissock, "I hear a plane."  And he said, "I hear one, too," and if you can imagine somewhat that you hear a plane, and you know that it's somewhere coming closer, and yet you don't know which direction it is.  And we began to look all around and, finally, we could detect that it's coming from that direction. Dennis:          Was it coming toward you? Ed:                  It was coming toward us, and it was flying about 8,000 feet and, well, what do you do?  I tell you what you do.  You scream, you splash water, you make all kinds of contortions there in the water, hoping and praying that he can see you.  But here he is flying over us, and had he come any further, he would have gone over us, but when he got, like a quarter of a mile or so out here, flying at 8,000 feet, he headed it straight down toward us as if he knew we were there.  But he didn't know we were there – impossible for him to see us.  If we'd had on deer-hunter orange, and he knew we were there, he could not have seen us.                         In fact, the pilot that later picked us up, he said the possibility of him seeing you would be the equivalent of taking the cross-section of a human hair and looking at the end of that human hair at 20 feet.  He said impossible for him to see us. Dennis:          So why did he go into the dive? Ed:                  Why did he go into the dive – that's the miracle of the angel coming for us, and that is the end of the fourth day.  Well, I've talked to Lieutenant Guinn [ph] at different times, and … Bob:                He was the pilot? Ed:                  He was the pilot, and he was flying out of Pulau, and he was flying a land-based plane, something like a B-20, a twin-engine plane, and as he was flying, he had left out that morning, and he had a problem with his antenna that kind of trails at the back of that aircraft.  And the stabilizer on that antenna had come off, and they had put something on, and he went out and tried it, and it didn't work.  They came back in, and then they put something on, and here they go again.                         So as he is flying over us, and here, as I mentioned, here he's coming just at a point that he could nearly dive right down to us, at that point he had gone back to the bomb bay door, and he'd opened the bomb bay door, and he was reeling in the antenna, and while he had that bomb bay door open, he looks down at a split-second there in the late afternoon of the fourth day, when the sun was setting on us late in the afternoon, and he saw the little mirror, so to speak, of the sun hitting on the oil on our clothing, and when he saw that, he thought it was a submarine down there. So immediately he rushes back to take over the controls, and the boys in the aircraft, they yelled back at him, with all that noise, you know, with the motors still revving up, you know, "What is it?  What is it?"  And he said, "Look down there."  And they looked down, and they could see the oil slick.  Well, my story is this – that we see him coming, and as if God had planned it for us, you know, here, when he gets to about a quarter of a mile from us, he heads down, and he comes down, and he circles us.  And as he circles us, then he tilts his wings a few times, you know, and then he leaves us.  He goes back up, and he circles us again up here. And we wondered, "Well, what in the world is he doing up there?"  Well, he can't land on the water, we knew that, but what he did, he came down, and he saw that there was someone down here.  He goes up, and he breaks radio silence to declare, "ducks on the pond."  He didn't know whether we were Japanese or American boys, but he broke radio silence to declare ducks on the pond.  And then he comes back down, then, and he circles us again.  He tilts his wings a time or two to give us assurance, you know, that we know you're there.  We don't know who you are, but we know you're there. And then he drops a life raft in, and in the meantime, then, he has radioed back into Pulau, and the next pilot, then, gets into a PBY that could land in the water, and Adrian March [ph], then, he's on his way, you know, to come and to pick us up.  And sometime later, then, he arrives, and in the meantime the raft that Guinn had dropped – I know, my friend McKissock, had made his way to the raft.  Then he's leaving it, and I wonder what's wrong.  And I get to the raft then, and it was bottom side up.  I try to get it turned over, managed to get it halfway turned over, but the CO2 on it was torn off, so I couldn't inflate it – no food, no water, no nothing – kind of a torn place in it, so it wouldn't even hold me just to stand on that, so to speak, hole in that pile of rubber. In the meantime, then McKissock had gotten far enough away from me that the PBY landed and had picked him up, and then I wondered, well, will he tell them that there's a Marine out there with him?  Well, he did, but it was a period of time that the plane seemingly – I couldn't see it, but he was running the swells – they were, like, 20-foot swells, and he'd run the swells back and forth trying to make his way over to me, and it took a period of time for him to run those to where he could get across, because if he had turned those props into the water, it would have flipped his plane.  And he pulled a no-no when he landed.  It was against all regulations for him to land his plane in the open sea, and yet he did, because as he landed he said he could see more sharks than he saw boys.  And we were scattered over, like, a 75-mile area, and he took reconnaissance of that and could see that there are boys in life rafts, there are boys on floater nets, and there are stragglers.  Then he actually saw shark attack on several boys, and he was determined that he was going to land, and he cleared it with the rest of the crew.  They all voted somewhat that they could take the punishment, but we've got to land. So they landed then and then finally then they came over me and through out a little life ring and picked me up.  I recall that as they got me out of the water, I blacked out or nearly blacked out.  I had no control over myself, and then they got me aboard the plane, then, and they would take me like a sack of feed and set the guy here, and the next guy just stack him against him, and they kept stacking us in there, and then finally it wouldn't hold anymore, and there were still some boys, stragglers out there, and it was getting dusk dark, and they picked up all that they could, all that they could find, and they actually fashioned them out on the wings, and then finally then sometime later in the night, the seas calmed down after night somewhat, and they shut off the motors, and we sat there and waiting until 12 or 1:00 or so in the morning when the little destroyer, Doyle, came in, and they picked us up. When I got aboard the plane, after a moment to board the plane, then I could look across at a Marine, and I could see that it was a blond-haired guy.  I could see he had the eyeballs that were just big red sores, and I knew it was Spooner, and I saw what he was doing.  He had a can of green beans, and he was feeling down on the deck of the ship, and he finally found a stud bolt or something down there, and he took that can of green beans, and he kept hacking away until he knocked a hole in the can of green beans and then he was turning that juice up and drinking it.  I recall saying to him, "Hey, Marine, how about some of your bean juice?" Well, you'd have to know Spooner, but he kind of told me where I could go, and … Dennis:          This is the guy that you saved his life by grabbing him by the life jackets on day 2, right? Ed:                  Yes.  Then I said to him, "Spooner, you don't know who this is.  This is Harrell."  Well, I didn't have to say any more.  He just kind of fell across the plane there toward me and kind of spilled some of his bean juice as he shared that with me.                         I was transferred, then, aboard the Doyle, and sometime that night, 1:00 or so that night. Dennis:          Ed, when he lunged across the floor of that plane to give you the bean juice, was that kind of an emotional – I can't even imagine.  I mean, he's alive, you're alive, it's what you'd said two days earlier.  You said, "You and I are going to get out of here." Ed:                  It was emotional for me as much as, I'm sure, for him – just to see that he made it, you know, because I didn't know anytime that fourth day – I knew not where Spooner might be.  And then to be able to see him there and see that he was alive, and I recognized him as soon as I looked across the plane and saw those eyes, I knew it was Spooner. Bob:                When you first heard that plane, when it started to dive and was tilting its wings at you, you thought, "We're going to be rescued?" Ed:                  Yes. Bob:                I would think you'd just weep. Ed:                  Well, you know, there's times when you weep, and there's times when you weep for joy.  I look back on this, and when I look at the – well, the first day that I had every assurance that somehow, some way, the Lord is going to see me through.  I felt that from the very moment that I went into the water.  And then the second day, when He provided the water for me … Bob:                … the rain shower … Ed:                  … you know, you have to just say "Thank you, Lord, I know that you are speaking to my heart and that somehow, some way, you're going to see me through."  And then on the third day, then, when the little raft came into the group, and you know that your life jacket no longer is holding your head out of the water, and now you have a spare life jacket that He provided for you, and you have to thank Him again.  And then sometime, then, the third afternoon, likewise, when you're starving still for water and for some food, and then for Him to provide half-rotten potatoes, you know, I have to thank, you know, He's still with me. And as I look back on that, you know, I think of the water of life.  You know, if you drink of this water, you're going to thirst again.  If you drink of that salt water, you're not going to make it at all.  But if you drink of the water that I give you, you'll never thirst again.  And then the bread of life, the potatoes that I had – and then when I get to the last day, the plane that came in, well, you know, it's like the Lord says, "Let not your hearts be troubled.  If you believe in God believe also in Me.  In My Father's house are many dwelling places.  I go to prepare a place for you, and since I go to prepare a place for you, I'm going to come again, and I'll receive you unto myself that where I am there you may be also."                         And so here He's coming, for me, at that time, He came for me in the person of Lieutenant Guinn as he came.  So I look back on the whole experience, and I think I have to say that it's a wonderful experience to have lived through, and I just praise and thank the Lord all the time for His mercy and and for His grace – unworthy as I am and yet He saw fit to spare my life through this ordeal. Bob:                You know, you mentioned that it was two years before you shared anything with your father.  We got a letter – you may remember this, Dennis, from a woman whose husband had passed on, and she said it wasn't until the last years of his life, some – almost 50 years after the battle had occurred – that she knew he'd been on Iwo Jima.  They'd gone their whole married life; she had never known that he was in that battle until near the end of his life.                         And I thought to myself as I read that, it was another way that he was protecting and defending by not sharing his story, and yet she wrote, and she said, "Knowing that sure explained some of the nights when he would wake up in terror."  Have you had that experience?  Have you had the nightmares and the terror of remembering some of that? Ed:                  I have not had nightmares.  I have had, many times that I've awakened and have a vivid scene of the happenings, and yet I think my counteraction to that is that "Thank you, Lord, for sparing my life and for bringing me through all of this," and I think maybe – I like to look at it, say that the Lord reminds me even today of those incidents.  And as He reminds me of those, then they help to strengthen my faith and my resolve to live a life for him today. Dennis:          You mentioned that pilot ended up finding 56 survivors on that fourth day.   Ed:                  Right. Dennis:          In total, there were 317 survivors.  How did the rest of them all get picked up? Ed:                  Well, as soon as they picked us up and found out that it was the Indianapolis, then all word went out.  They broke radio silence everywhere, and any ship within a couple of hundred miles or so; that is, a destroyer or something that could move fast, they came to the scene.  And when the USS Doyle, the ship that picked me up, when it got closer and closer, what did he do, Commander Claytor, he turned on his powerful spotlights up on the under part of the clouds, and you can imagine what that did to that whole area.  It was just like a mushroom with lights underneath the clouds.  And for the boys that were out there, they knew that rescue was there, and that gave them the hope that they needed.  And some of those had to go through another night.  It would be dangerous, you know, as dark as it was, to try to take some kind of a craft out there and maneuver around without hitting someone.  But that gave them hope through the night until the next morning.                         Now, I was picked up aboard the Doyle off the PBY.  I know, as they took me aboard, there was a couple of sailors that there's no qualms about them getting dirty or anything, and, of course, we were grease monkeys, really, with all that oil and all on us.  And I recall that they took my arms and put them around their neck, and they drug my feet, and they took me down below deck, and then they began to – they stripped off my clothing, and then they began to take something like a diesel fuel or kerosene, and they began to wash that oil off of me.  And then they had to be so careful with all of the saltwater ulcers that I had, and then they put me in – a Marine being put in Navy skivvies.  So they put their Navy underwear on me, and then … Bob:                You were okay with that, at that point? Ed:                  I was okay.  In fact, may I just say that I met the guy, after 57 years, I met the guy aboard the Doyle that actually cleaned me up, and he took me, then, to his bunk and gave me his bed, and then the corpsmen then came, and they had a cup of sugared water, warm sugared water, and they gave me a couple of tablespoons full or so of warm sugared water to kind of rehydrate me, I guess. Bob:                Did it taste pretty good? Ed:                  It tasted wonderful, it tasted wonderful. Bob:                Sixty years after this happened, how many of the survivors are still alive? Ed:                  A week or so ago, I got a report.  I think there was 97 of us still alive. Bob:                Spooner? Ed:                  Spooner's gone.  There's five of we Marines.  Nine of we marines survived out of – there were 39 of us aboard, and nine of us survived, and of the nine there are five of us still living today. Bob:                How about McKissock? Ed:                  No, McKissock's gone.  And, by the way, McKissock was not a believer at the time, and McKissock told me later, he said, "Harrell, I went home, and I got to look at all that the Lord had brought me through there," and he said, "I was a churchgoer.  I went to church all the time, but I was really not a believer."  And he said, "Finally, I just had to get down on my knees and thank the Lord and tell Him that I trusted Him as my Savior because I know that He had a purpose for my life."  And he became a real Christian friend of mine as long as he lived.  He passed away four years ago, maybe. Dennis:          Well, Ed, wow.  I'm exhausted from treading water here with you.  But I have to say, what a great story.  What a great story of faith and redemption, God's providential care, and how you have faithfully given Him the credit and the honor for doing that.  I'm grateful for your book and just pray that God will give you many great years of health and many more great-grandchildren, and I appreciate you being with us here on FamilyLife Today. Ed:                  Thank you so much, my delight, my pleasure to be with you. Bob:                And, you know, if any of our listeners this week have missed portions of this story, we've got our interview with Ed available on CD.  In fact, it's on two CDs, and we've been able to include on the CDs material that we weren't able to fit on the radio because of time constraints.                           We also have the book that you've written, Ed, which is called "Out of the Depths."  It tells the story of the sinking of the Indianapolis and of your rescue along with the rescue of the other sailors and Marines who were in the water 60 years ago this week.  Go to our website at FamilyLife.com if you're interested in getting a copy of Ed's book or the CDs of our discussion.                          At the bottom of your screen when you're on our website, FamilyLife.com, you'll see a little button that says "Go."  Click on that button, and it will take you to a page where there is more information on Ed's book, on other resources that we're recommending this week.  You can order online at FamilyLife.com, if you'd like, or you can call 1-800-FLTODAY and someone on our team can answer any questions you might have about these resources, or you can order over the phone as well.                         1-800-FLTODAY is the number.  The website, again, is FamilyLife.com, and let me encourage you, especially if you weren't able to hear the complete story, to contact us and get a copy of the book and the CDs as well.                         And then let me also ask you consider this month making a donation to FamilyLife Today.  We're a listener-supported program.  Your donations are what keep us on the air.  We are asking folks if, during the month of August, you could make a donation to help with our financial needs.  We'd like to send you a thank you gift.  A few months ago we had Shaunti Feldhahn in our studios, and we visited with her on a book that she's written called "For Women Only."  It's based on research that she has done with more than 1,000 men all across the country asking them about what they need most from their wives.                         This month we're going to make those available to you as a thank you gift when you make a donation of any amount to FamilyLife Today.  You can donate online at FamilyLife.com or you can call 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY to make your donation.  When you do, be sure to request the CDs for women, or if you're online, when the keycode box comes up, type in the two letters "CD," and we'll know that you'd like to have the Shaunti Feldhahn CDs sent to you.  And let me say thanks in advance for your support of this ministry.  It is much needed, and it is appreciated.                         Well, tomorrow we're going to talk about some very profound theological ideas that even a three-year-old can begin to catch onto.  We'll explain what we mean tomorrow.  I hope you can be back with us for that.                         I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  We'll see you tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.                          FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.  ________________________________________________________________ We are so happy to provide these transcripts to you.  However, there is a cost to transcribe, create, and produce them for our website.  If you’ve benefited from the broadcast transcripts, would   you consider donating today to help defray the costs?   Copyright © FamilyLife.  All rights reserved. www.FamilyLife.com    

24mins

4 Jan 2020

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Ed Harrell

Witness to War

Ed Harrell describes in detail the sinking of the USS Indianapolis which left nearly 900 Sailors and Marines in shark-infested Pacific waters.

37mins

8 Nov 2017