Sunday, January 17, 2010

Two For The Sea – Wilcox and Joseph

I had the great honor of sitting down with two sailors this week and both were full of enthusiasm for the sea and ships they tended - Petty Officers 2nd Class Lindsey “Zeb” Wilcox of the USS Indianapolis and Claudius Joseph of the USS Iowa. 

Both ships and both sailors have memories of their time aboard that would be better off forgotten, but they relive their experiences too often and remember close friends who did not “make it back”.  Many memories are good though and they delighted in retelling them.

I, as an Air Force Veteran found much of their tales standard G.I. talk, but I must confess that much of their Navy verbiage, albeit maritime lingo is thousands of years old, found me scratching my head. Bells for hours and the confusing rank system still stymie my meager knowledge of naval nomenclature. Nomenclature is an example of the kind of words that are tossed around in the military.

Mr. Wilcox is a survivor of the worst wartime disaster in US Naval history – the sinking of the USS Indianapolis in 1945.  He floated in the Philippine Sea for five long days before being rescued, while the majority of his shipmates were lost to injury, dehydration, exposure and ultimately – sharks.  The tale was brought to the attention of our nation by the movie “Jaws”.

Read more about Mr. Wilcox and his life here.

Mr. Joseph was aboard the USS Iowa and was scheduled for number two turret duty that infamous day in April, 1989 when the turret exploded, killing 47 sailors.  He was excused for duty, after working an extra shift the evening before.  All of the sailors who died were friends of his and he thanks God for his mercy in sparing him to retell the story.

Read about the USS Iowa explosion here.

Recognizing the importance of honoring our Veterans, Mr. Joseph brought 2 of his sons to meet the great WWII hero and they sat in quiet observation as the two war veterans chatted.

Mr. Wilcox has been ill for the last month and is in the San Jacinto Methodist hospital, Alexander Campus, but tells me he is on the comeback trail after gaining ten pounds.  He hopes to live two more years, as he has a lot of work to do, but Mr. Joseph assured him, he would live many more, as he is a hero and a... survivor.


Anonymous said...

Good to see old Claude , it has been a while. I bet Mr.Wilcox has some good stories. I remember you telling me this story a few times but the picture really brings it to life. PC

Anonymous said...

I will pray for him to live as long as he wants. CK

Anonymous said...

Very good article, Bert. I love hearing older people talk about their lives and experiences.
Well done. BE

Natalie said...

Wow! I just love Mr. Wilcox, and I'm glad these two gentlemen got to speak. Thanks for capturing it on video, Bert.

Was sad to hear Mr. Wilcox has been ill, but happy to see he still has his sense of humor! His story is amazing. Wishing him a SPEEDY recovery :)

Anonymous said...

wow...that was really interesting. there are such wonderful people to meet in this lifetime....if we can find them :-) love, BT

Anonymous said...

That was a nice presentation Bert.. Very well done...!... Thank you very much for sharing it with me Sir.. Scott A.

Baytown Bert said...

The river is always the same, but every moment is new again.

Translated from Chinese (post before this one).

Anonymous said...

Bert, I enjoyed your article. God Bless. JT

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