GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Nearly 63 years later, Granville Crane still gets choked up over his ordeal.
"I hate to talk about. I get emotional," Crane said.
But, this survivor of the U.S.S. Indianapolis knows it's a story that needs to be heard.
"It's the worse tragedy of the U.S. Navy at sea, and it's not in the history books."
His story goes back to World War II. He was 19 and half-years-old and a navyman aboard the U.S.S. Indianapolis. The ship was chosen to carry the parts that would assemble the atomic bomb, later dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
On July 30, 1945, as the ship made its way back from its drop-off, it was torpedoed. Nearly 2,000 navymen went into the shark-infested waters of the Philippine Sea. The ship sank in just 12 minutes.
"I didn't have a life jacket, boat or any kind of raft you know, no food, no water, nothing but dehydration, hypothermia."
Nearly 900 men, many of whom were badly injured, stayed in the water for five days and nights holding onto potato boxes and artillery cases, anything they could to stay afloat.
"Each day we hollered and scream at every plane that would go over every day."
Crane said he had to think beyond the navy rescuing him and rely upon a much higher command to answer his S.O.S. call.
"We had a guardian angel sent by God. We call him our guardian angel. He spotted us down there in the water."
In the end, only 317 men would be rescued. Crane received a Purple Heart for his heroism as well as 10 medals for major battles fought while on board.
This American Hero, now associate pastor, says it was divine providence that led him to and through his ordeal.
"I believe it was His will I go through this experience and be a survivor, so the coming generation hears about this. I would like for them to see how the men and women of the armed forces have suffered for our freedom because freedom is not cheap."
A monument in Indianapolis, Indiana, now stands in honor of the 70 survivors still living. The survivors have written a book about their ordeal. They hold reunions each year.