Perhaps the last (from York County) in (World) War (II) …
If Eugene B. Bubb was the first York countian to die during World War II, the next question is who is the last?
That’s hard to establish, but Yeoman 3rd class Jack T. Yeaple certainly was one of the last to die, among the 571 county residents who gave their lives.
Here’s his story:
On July 30, 1945, Yeaple was aboard heavy cruiser “U.S.S. Indianapolis.” The ship was moving onto its next assignment in the South Pacific after dropping off elements of the atomic bomb that would later fall on Hiroshima… .
A Japanese torpedo struck the ship in the open sea, and it went down in 12 minutes, so quickly that it couldn’t send out an SOS. About 300 men died in the strike, and another 600 succumbed to exposure and shark attacks in the five days they struggled for survival until help arrived. The remaining 300 were rescued after the Navy finally discovered that a major ship had gone down.
(For an accessible, but painful read on the incident, see Doug Stanton’s “In Harm’s Way” http://www.ussindianapolisinharmsway.com/home.htm. The incident also might be familiar to some after it was recounted by the Robert Shaw-character in the film “Jaws.” )
It was a major embarrassment for the Navy. The incident was released on V-J Day, initially obscured because America was celebrating the long war’s end.
It’s not known whether Yeaple died from the torpedo blast or in the water. (Byron H. LeCates, an attorney with York law firm Stock & Leader, has written an interesting paper on Yeaple and the ship.)
Oh yes, Jack Yeaple’s name was etched into the plaques bearing the honor roll of World War II dead on the old York County Courthouse’s facade in the first molding.
Other posts in this series about WW II sacrifices: Bataan survivor persevered, The first in (World) War (II) …, Perhaps the last in (World) War (II) ….