Doug Stanton, author of In Harm’s Way, tells the story of the USS Indianapolis. On July 30, 1945, after delivering components of the first atom bomb, the battle cruiser USS Indianapolis was torpedoed and sunk. Nearly 900 sailors were cast into the shark infested sea. Because of the nature of the ship’s mission, a distress signal was never sent. By the time rescue arrived nearly five days later, all but 321 men had lost their lives. In the aftermath, Rear Admiral Charles Butler McVay III became the first captain in U.S. history to be court marshaled for losing his ship as a result of an act of war.
McVay could have been acquitted had the defense known of a report labeled SECRET and sent to Admiral King by the Navy Inspector General. From the Navy’s point of view the ULTRA message wasn’t entered into testimony because it was so top secret that, in essence, it didn’t exist. Thus the naval career of McVay was over. He would never command another ship.
Back at home through the Christmas season, McVay received loads of hate mail—“Merry Christmas! Our family has just celebrated another Christmas without our son because of you!” This continued year after year until finally McVay walked out his front door, lay down on his drive way and took his life with a gun.
Fifty-five years after World War II, on October 12. 2000, Congress passed an amendment exonerating Rear Admiral Charles Bulter McVay III. Vindicated at last!
Reading this book reminded me of another innocent man. He was condemned and sentenced to death for crimes he did not commit. That man was Jesus. The innocent One died! But that is only part of the story. “He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory,” 1 Timothy 3:16. The word vindicated means ‘justified’ or declared righteous and just. Jesus was not guilty. He was shown to be righteous by God’s supreme act of raising him from the dead, Romans 1:4.
This is the good news, or as we like to call it, the gospel!