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Effort continues to find descendants of 12 Colorado servicemen who died while serving aboard USS Indianapolis in 1945

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- It's an ambitious undertaking, but no less impressive.

An effort is underway to find surviving relatives of 12 World War II servicemen from Colorado, who served on the USS Indianapolis -- the fate of which was dramatized in the 1975 movie Jaws.

Project 888

Those Colorado servicemen were among 879 Americans killed in July 1945 when two Japanese torpedoes sank the ship after it had delivered parts for one of the two atomic bombs that led to Japan's eventual surrender that September.  

In March 1945, nine more servicemen died when the Indianapolis was struck by a Japanese kamikaze bomber.

Archive Photo

A year ago, the eight-member USS  Indianapolis Legacy Education Committee formed Project 888 with the intent of locating descendants of all 888 servicemen who died on the heavy cruiser.

Among the members is Michael Emery, a Manitou Springs native named after an uncle, William Emery, who was killed when the Indianapolis sank.


"His body was never found," Michael said from a motel room in Manitou Springs Tuesday. "He was assigned to that ship because it was supposed to be a safe place to serve out the rest of the war. Some descendants of those who were lost, don't know their history and don't want to know it. Others are very thankful and appreciative that we're able to share something about the lives of the men who died. We want them to be always remembered and never forgotten."

William Emery

Of the 12 Indianapolis sailors from Colorado, were from Pueblo -- Gunner’s Mate Third Class Alford E. Cox, 21, and Storekeeper Second Class Bassil R. Dove, 25.

Project 888

Michael plans to spend a week in Colorado, talking with some of the descendants of the Indianapolis crew and researching historical databases.

"We've found the descendants of around 500 who served on the Indianapolis in 1945," he said. "We still have a ways to go."

Project 888

For more information about the USS  Indianapolis Legacy Education Committee, visit:

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Scott Harrison

Scott is a reporter for KRDO. Learn more about Scott here.


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