USS Indianapolis and Connecting the Dots
Quint, Jack, and Owen

Steve Jobs gave the commencement speech at Stanford in 2005. This is the first part of his commencement comments about connecting the dots. Those several sentences have helped me understand reality at a deeper level.

You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something -- your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

Case in point. There I was in the mid-seventies waterskiing on the Rock River in Dixon, IL. While skiing with my friends, we kidded each other about avoiding making a mistake while skiing and winding up in the river. The joke was that we would be eaten alive by the sharks. It was our attempt to be funny due to the recent blockbuster film, Jaws.


While the shark scenes were scary in Jaws, the captain of the Orca description of a shark attack years before was even worse.

Sometimes that shark looks right at ya. Right into your eyes. And the thing about a shark is he’s got lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll’s eyes. When he comes at ya, he doesn’t even seem to be livin’… ’til he bites ya, and those black eyes roll over white and then… ah then you hear that terrible high-pitched screamin’. The ocean turns red, and despite all your poundin’ and your hollerin’ those sharks come in and… they rip you to pieces. You know by the end of that first dawn, lost a hundred men. I don’t know how many sharks there were, maybe a thousand.

However, Quint was telling the crew in Jaws about when he was on the USS Indianapolis after leaving Tinian Island in the Marianas in July 26, 1945.

Japanese submarine slammed two torpedoes into her side, Chief. We was comin’ back from the island of Tinian to Leyte. We’d just delivered the bomb. The Hiroshima bomb. Eleven hundred men went into the water. Vessel went down in 12 minutes.

Quint said that he was on the cruiser, USS Indianapolis, which had just delivered the unassembled parts of Little Boy to the scientists of Tinian, which reassembled it. Little Boy was soon dropped on Hiroshima. Interestingly, the reassembled Little Boy contained half of the world’s Uranium-235 in 1945.

Little Boy

Regarding connecting the dots, the Trinity test, which detonated Fat Boy, occurred on July 16, 1945.

Fat Boy

Within ten days since Fat Boy’s denotation, the dissembled Little Boy was placed onboard the Indianapolis at Pearl Harbor, which was the place the Japanese attacked the naval base thus starting WWII in the Pacific. It took the USS Indianapolis a record time of 74½ hours to go from Pearl Harbor to Tinian. Once on Tinian, Little Boy was reassembled only to be dropped on Hiroshima on August 6th ten days later. Three days after Hiroshima, the US dropped Fat Man on Nagasaki. By September 2, 1945, forty-nine days after Fat Boy’s explosion at the Trinity site, WWII ended.

USS Indianapolis

Tragically, the USS Indianapolis after unloading Little Boy at Tinian, went to Guam and then onto Leyte where it would prepare for its assignment at Okinawa. However, early on July 30th, a Japanese sub spotted the Indianapolis and fired two torpedoes sinking it in 12-minutes. The Indianapolis had a crew of 1,196 and 300 went down with ship. However, it took the US Navy three days to find the survivors. Because of that delay, nearly 600 died due to the heat, exposure, lack of food and water, and the sharks. As Quint described the shark infested waters in Jaws, “I don’t know how many sharks there were, maybe a thousand.”

The final connecting dot occurred seven years ago while driving to Indianapolis to visit with Jack and Owen. I would drive from Crown Point to Indianapolis via I-65 to I-465. I-465 is a memorial highway in honor of the USS Indianapolis.

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