Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Sailor’s Lucky Appendix

Back in the summer of 1945, a young Naval officer suffered an attack of appendicitis that sent him to the hospital and prevented him from getting on board the cruiser he’d been assigned to serve on. That turned out to be an incredibly lucky break on his part. His assigned ship was the USS Indianapolis, which a Japanese submarine torpedoed near midnight on July 30, 1945. The ship sank so rapidly that the radio room did not have time to send out an SOS. Although the majority of the 1199-man crew got off the ship in time, it was four days before anyone picked them up. By that time, only 316 men were still alive. Hundreds of their shipmates had died of thirst or being eaten by sharks. The sailor with the lucky appendix was a lieutenant named John Wooden, who went on to achieve legendary status as the coach of UCLA’s basketball team to ten national titles. If Coach Wooden’s present good health continues, this October, he will celebrate his 100th birthday.

No comments: