Thanks to reader Dwight Kreick for calling this story to my attention and allowing us all to give a final, grateful Huck’s Hero salute to an overlooked American hero.
At the link is the obituary for Harlan Twible, who passed away on April 8 at the age of 96, which was a true miracle considering his experiences in World War II. The Ware, Massachusetts, native graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1945, and his very first post was aboard the heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis. It was a secret mission to deliver the first atomic bomb to the island of Tinian.
Just four days after the bomb was unloaded from the ship, the USS Indianapolis was attacked and sank so fast that there was no time to send out a distress call. He and 325 surviving crewmen spent 4 days and 5 nights in the open sea, with almost no fresh water or survival gear. Despite his own injuries, Twible constantly aided his shipmates, keeping order and preventing injured and half-crazed men from leaving the safety of the group until they were rescued. He credited his survival to God’s presence and care.
For his actions, the Navy awarded him the Navy and Marine Corps Medal. He went on to serve 11 more years, including in the Korean War. Afterwards, he became a business executive specializing in saving endangered companies, and was remembered for his fairness and compassion by former employees. His family says the greatest joy of his life was his beloved wife of many years, Alice. He also loved his children and his hobby of woodworking, and thanked God every day for the blessings of his life, which must have seemed pretty placid to those who didn’t know about his military experience.
I’m sure if we tried to add up all the men he served with who thanked God for the life of Mr. Twible, and all of their loved ones who were eternally grateful he was there, and all of us who owe him a huge debt for his service to America, the numbers would soon be so big, it would be impossible to keep count. God bless you and your family, Mr. Twible, and rest in peace.