US Coins

USS Indianapolis crew focus of congressional gold medal recognition

Designs the Commission of Fine Arts recommends for a congressional gold medal honoring the crew of the USS Indianapolis were picked, one apiece, from two sets of design pairings picked the day before by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee.

The medal is authorized under Public Law 115-338 to honor the 1,195 members of the ship’s crew, of which only 316 ultimately survived the ship’s sinking by enemy warfare.

After successfully delivering components for the assembling of an atomic bomb, the Indianapolis was sunk on July 30, 1945, by torpedoes fired by a Japanese submarine. Nearly 900 members of the Indianapolis’ crew made it into the water, but hundreds died from their injuries, exposure or shark attacks. 

The CFA-preferred obverse design chosen at its Sept. 19 meeting depicts the USS Indianapolis cruiser with its 10 battle stars in an arc below. Interspersed among a border of rivets are the inscriptions USS INDIANAPOLIS CA-35 and its dates of service, 1932–1945.

The commission’s preferred reverse features the searchlight from the USS Cecil J. Doyle shining into the sky, providing hope for the survivors in the water and a beacon to other ships headed to the rescue site. Inscriptions indicate the date the ship was attacked and the number lost at sea.

The CCAC had preferred the same obverse as the CFA, but had paired it with a reverse depicting a group of Indianapolis survivors clinging to a raft with rescuers en route by sea and air.

The CCAC had paired the CFA’s preferred reverse with a different obverse for its second recommended pair. The CFA’s secondary obverse shows a close-up of the ship’s hull number 35 and rivets, and inscriptions 1195 SAILED, 316 SURVIVED. 

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