By: Kathy Kent Toney, CEO & Founder of Kent Business Solutions
Last year I watched a Lessons in Leadership, courtesy of Randy Powell when he interviewed WWII Veteran Edgar Harrell. For those of you who are not familiar with Sgt. Edgar Harrell, he was the last remaining Marine survivor of the USS Indianapolis tragedy. I say "was" because he passed away on May 8, 2021, not too long after Randy interviewed him. With Memorial Day upon us, I'd love to share with you his riveting story.
For those not familiar with what happened to the USS Indianapolis, or if you'd like a refresher, here's a description from Sgt. Harrell's website:
On July 16, 1945, the USS Indianapolis departed from San Francisco for the American B-29 base on Tinian island with a top-secret cargo that would ultimately put an end to World War II—components for the first operational atomic bombs. After a record run, covering 5,300 miles in only ten days, the Indianapolis successfully delivered her cargo on July 26, 1945, and was ordered to set a course from Guam to the Leyte Gulf in the Philippines to prepare for the invasion of Japan. Traveling unescorted, at fourteen minutes past midnight on July 30, 1945, she was hit by two Japanese torpedoes midway between Guam and Leyte, sending her to a watery grave in twelve minutes. Of the 1,196 men aboard, about 900 sailors and Marines entered the water. Due to a series of Navy debacles, no one knew of their plight. Five horrifying days later, 317 men who had survived the terror of shark attacks, hypothermia, severe dehydration and salt-water hallucinations, were accidentally spotted and rescued.
[For those who want to hear his story first-hand, here's a condensed version of the full-length video.]
Sgt. Harrell’s courage, valor, and never-give-up attitude is so inspiring. It got me thinking--what were the things he did that saw him through?
Here are what I see as firm choices he made to survive those 4 ½ days afloat in the ocean:
I believe Sgt. Harrell's account can be a true source of inspiration for all of us. During this strange season, so many feel like we're hanging on for dear life, wondering if we'll make it through these challenging times.
Here are a couple of thoughts along these lines:
When we make decisions during tough times, like Sgt. Harrell did, to persevere, have faith and hope, and help others along the way, we'll have more grit to make it through--not only to survive but to thrive. If we can carry this never-give-up mindset going during these challenging times we're in, we'll more clearly see endless opportunities and good things to come, no matter how bad things look.
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