News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

July 31, 2013

A special farewell: Brazil veterans who perished aboard the U.S.S Indianpolis honored

BRAZIL, Ind. — Sixty-eight years ago, Robert Lamb and Artie R. Miller lost their lives while serving aboard the U.S.S. Indianapolis, which was sunk after delivering components for an atomic bomb that was later dropped on Hiroshima, Japan during World War II.

On Tuesday, the city of Brazil recognized the two Brazil residents in a special ceremony in front of City Hall. A huge U.S. flag hung over the front lawn of the municipal building, supported from a boom from a fire truck.

“I don’t remember a lot about my brother. I was only 6 when he was killed, maybe 5,” said Virginia Schultz, brother of Robert Lamb. Schultz, the youngest of five children, was among a small group of surviving relatives who attended the ceremony.

“I do remember my mother took us on a bus to the [U.S. Navy] Great Lakes training facility when Bobby graduated. All I remember were all the men in blue uniforms,” Schultz recalled.

“As near as my mother found out, he had gone off duty. In his letters, he told my mother that when he got off duty he would take a shower. He would taken a shower which was in the bottom part of the [ship]. He went down with the ship, that’s what we think,” Schultz, a resident of Brazil, said.

The U.S.S. Indianapolis on July 26, 1945, had just delivered components for an atomic bomb later dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.

The ship, a 610-foot long heavy cruiser, on its return was struck by two torpedoes from a Japanese submarine just after midnight on July 30, 1945. Of the 1,196 on board, 300 went down with the ship, while nearly 900 made it into the water in the 12 minutes before the ship sank.

Of those, just 317 survived when rescued four days later, after facing shark attacks and elements of the ocean. It is classified as the worst individual naval sea disaster for the U.S. Navy.

The ceremony was sparked by Merry Miller Moon. Her uncle is Artie R. Miller, a gunner’s mate on the U.S.S. Indianapolis.

“Artie was my dad’s only brother and ever since I was a small child, my dad (James Thomas Miller) was sure to tell me and my siblings of the story of the U.S.S. Indianapolis. My dad was also in the Navy,” Moon said, adding her father, four years older than Artie Miller, served on the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Essex during World War II.

Moon, while doing family research, discovered that Lamb had also died on the ship. “I became Facebook friends with Robert Lamb relative. We also did further research and found that the city of Brazil had never done anything to honor them,” Moon said.

“I wrote to Mayor Brian Wyndham and he decided to hold this ceremony, which I think is really neat,” Moon said.

Moon’s father named his first-born son Artie R. Miller in honor of his younger brother. Miller was working in Greencastle and unable to attend the ceremony, Moon said.

Robert Allen Lamb, 64, also attended the ceremony. He is a first cousin of Robert Clyde Lamb. He was named after Lamb.

“My mother named me after him,” Robert A. Lamb said. “Maybe he knew he wasn’t coming back, because they didn’t know where they were going. I think it may have been something he wrote to my mother in a letter,” he said of his namesake.

Alice Long, Robert A. Lamb’s oldest sister, said their mother said she would name her child after Lamb. Long said she was 13 when Lamb was killed.

“My mother was pregnant with a child and Bobby was so interested in that baby, she promised him, it would be named after him,” Long said.

“I classify Bobby as good, funny and always ready to help somebody,” Long said.

State Sen. Tim Skinner, D-Terre Haute, was a speaker at the ceremony. Skinner said U.S. veterans “accept risk and personal sacrifice. They do this to make America a better place for the upcoming generations — for my family, my kids and now my grandchildren.

“Their goal is to preserve American freedom and give us a better way of life,” Skinner said.

“World War II vets have been called the greatest generation,” Skinner said, adding more than 400,000 Hoosiers served during that war. “Our veterans deserve whatever we can give them,” Skinner said of medical care and living assistance. “These benefits are costly but are a small price to pay for the sacrifices we have asked of these men and women.”

Moon said she now hopes to preserve the memory of Lamb and Miller by either “seeking street signs or plaques or something in a park. I think it is important to keep their memory alive,” she said.

Terre Haute Tribune-Star reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com.

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