I just got back from dinner with a friend. I can’t say I know what it means, but this friend pointed out that a friend of his was telling him that days after the USS Indianapolis delivered parts of the A-bomb to be used in the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (killing hundreds of thousands in total), that same USS Indianapolis was sunk by a Japanese U-boat.

Worse than just being sunk, the Indianapolis crew—through drowning, overexposure and shark attack—suffered the most significant number of fatalities in American naval history, and in a brutal and agonizing fashion.

With no hint of irony or even judgment, this friend of a friend suggested that this is one of the most obvious cases of ‘instant karma’ on record. I am not for a moment saying this is true, further I try to never think of karma in this way—as if I can perceive what’s going on—and finally, the boat sank before the bomb was dropped, but an interesting enough take on a bizarre, ghastly and brutal coincidence of atrocities.

The bomb parts were delivered on June 26. The ship was sunk on the 30th. The bombs were dropped August 6 and 9th.

About 300 of the 1,196 men on board died in the attack. The rest of the crew, 880 men, floated in the water without lifeboats until the rescue was completed four days later. Many did not have lifejackets. Three hundred and twenty-one crew came out of the water alive, with 317 ultimately surviving.

The version told by the grizzled Quint, in Jaws, terrified me as a kid in 1975—and explains why, as he says, he’ll never again wear a life jacket.

The truer story is here. However explained, it is tragic. For the record, the wonderful Robert Shaw, who played Quint, died a few years after completion of the film, from a heart attack. He was 61. Shaw’s own father committed suicide via opium when Shaw was twelve.

Shaw also played a terrific Henry VIII in A Man For All Seasons.

Lots of love to you and yours, in the mystery, and may you never be caught in the crossfires of the awful projections of war,

Pete xox


5 Responses to “JAWS: the BOMB, the USS INDIANAPOLIS and KARMA?”

  1. Karen says:

    Hi Pete,

    First let me say I’m a neophyte in the realm of Eastern Philosophy of any sort, but from what I do understand I don’t think of karma in this way either.

    While I understand the temptation to make the kneejerk connection between delivering parts of the atomic bomb and the horrific fate of the crew of the USS Indianapolis, it presupposes that the crew knew what they were involved in. Because the parts of the bomb weren’t dangerous unassembled and considering the secrecy surrounding all facets of the Manhattan Project, I’m inclined to believe very few men on that ship really knew what cargo the ship carried, let alone its purpose. More important, they didn’t have much choice. They were doing the job entrusted to them believing what they were doing was right and, well, we can’t control the consequences of our actions, right?

    Then again, one could say the bombings were “instant karma” for sinking the USS Indianapolis. Those seamen lost their lives long before the final decisions to drop Little Boy and Fat Man were made. But then the civilians living in Hiroshima and Nagasaki had nothing to do with the deaths of the USS Indianapolis’ crew.

    Yet again, perhaps we are trying to make a connection between two totally unconnected events.

    And yet again and most likely, perhaps some things just are. Who are we to think we understand the workings of the universe?

    Just playing with my mental blocks.

    Love to you and those you love,

  2. Lovely Karen,

    I knew I’d be in understandable trouble if I wrote that! It truly was someone else’s comment. What is remarkable, period, is the connection between two such horrific events, regardless of meaning. Those poor citizens, of course—what, a hundred or two hundred thousand, not including all the trauma for decades ahead, the injured, the demolition of whatever held the cities together. And the poor soldiers, of god knows what tender age, stranded for days, many literally devoured by a feeding frenzy of sharks. Unbelievably morbid. And the worst naval disaster in US history, I believe.

    Tragic, this world, in so many ways. Interestingly, the intricacies of karma (what little I know) are on the one hand fascinating and intriguing, and on the other, utterly impossible to fathom in the bigness of the world. In short, they are not as we see, and they are not about, or obviously, ‘good’ and/or ‘bad.’

    In the theory, we don’t have to be aware of doing something ‘wrong’ to suffer a negative reaction. No different than getting burnt, unintentionally. Nature has rules, and they’re not personal. In a grand way, karma is not personal!

    I’m sure that clears up nothing. And indeed, your turnaround is apt, on the karma the other way around. Who knows what the ‘sins of the father’ is all about, exactly.

    But I really wasn’t linking them as karmic. God knows if karma even exists, although cause and effect certainly does, through and through, and karma is the law of cause and effect, by definition. Either way, I simply thought the stories and the history and JAWS were interesting enough to post a remembrance.

    Thanks always, too, for your comments. With their richness, they allow me to explain myself even further…ah, to what end!

    Love to you, and I hope all is well at home,


  3. Tony says:

    “He’ll never again where a life jacket”?? I think you mean, “He’ll never again WEAR a life jacket”.

  4. I certainly do mean that—although under significant emotional and physical duress, exposure and exhaustion, one, who doesn’t speak English as a first language, isn’t wearing a life jacket, and is delirious, might cry out: “Where a life a jacket?”
    Under all other conditions, thanks!

  5. Anabelle says:

    This is blatantly karmic intervention. Evil partaking will meet with a grisly end. These men who died horrific deaths were tools in the greater evil of killing hundreds of thousands. They deserved their macabre ending and then some.

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