Retired IN Firefighter and USS Indianapolis Survivor Passes Away

James E. O’Donnell, the sole Indianapolis survivor of the USS Indianapolis and a longtime Indianapolis (IN) Fire Department firefighter, passed away Wednesday afternoon. He was 92.

O’Donnell served as an Indianapolis firefighter for 35 years until he retired as a lieutenant in 1981, according to a report from RTV6 ( He was a survivor of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis. In July 1945, the ship was blasted by two torpedoes from a Japanese submarine; survivors of the attack ended up in shark-infested waters with too few life rafts. 879 sailors died.

O’Donnell is survived by his wife of 70 years, Mary Alice, four children, and 11 grandchildren.