On this day in 1945, shortly after delivering critical parts for the first atomic bomb to be used in combat to the United States air base at Tinian in the North Marianas Islands in the Pacific, the U.S. Navy heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis (CA-35) was torpedoed by the Imperial Japanese Navy submarine I-58 and sank in 12 minutes. Of 1,196 crewmen aboard, approximately 300 went down with the ship. The remaining crew faced exposure, dehydration and shark attacks as they waited for assistance while floating with few lifeboats and almost no food or water. The Navy learned of the sinking when survivors were spotted four days later by the crew of a PV-1 Ventura on routine patrol. Only 316 sailors survived. It was the greatest single loss of life at sea in the history of the U.S. Navy. Indianapolis earned 10 battle stars for World War II service. The Final Footprint– The USS Indianapolis National Memorial was dedicated on 2 August 1995. It is located on the Canal Walk in Indianapolis. The heavy cruiser is recreated in limestone and granite and sits adjacent to the downtown canal. The crewmembers’ names are listed on the monument, with special notations for those who lost their lives. References to the Indianapolis sinking and aftermath have been adapted to film, stage, television, and popular culture. The incident itself was the subject of 1991 made-for-television movie Mission of the Shark: The Saga of the U.S.S. Indianapolis, with Stacey Keach portraying Captain Charles Butler McVay III. My favorite fictional reference to the event occurs in the Steven Spielberg film Jaws (1975) in a monologue by actor Robert Shaw, whose character Sam Quint is depicted as a survivor of the Indianapolis sinking.
On this day in 1975, labor union leader Jimmy Hoffa disappeared in Bloomfield Township, Michigan. And on this day in 1982, he was declared dead in absentia. Born James Riddle Hoffa on 14 February 1913 in Brazil, Indiana. Hoffa was involved with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters from 1932 to 1975, first as an organizer, then as the president from 1958 to 1971. He had ties to organized crime, and he went to jail in 1967 on a 13-year sentence for jury tampering, attempted bribery, and fraud. He did not resign his Teamsters presidency, though, until he made a deal with President Nixon in 1971. Nixon commuted his sentence, in exchange for Hoffa’s agreement to stay away from union activities until 1980. Not surprisingly, the Teamsters Union supported Nixon in his 1972 re-election campaign. Hoffa was not happy with the arrangement, but he had lost the support of the Teamsters and the Mafia, and Nixon’s restrictions were probably due to a request by senior union officials. Hoffa told friends he was going to meet with two Mafia leaders at the Machus Red Fox restaurant in Bloomfield Township. When he didn’t return by late that evening, his wife called the police, who found his car in the parking lot, but no sign of Hoffa. The Final Footprint – His final resting place could be in the foundation of Giants Stadium or in the foundation of the Renaissance Center in Detroit.
On this day in 1989, professional bull rider and Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) member, Lane Frost died in the arena at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo as a result of injuries sustained riding the bull Takin’ Care of Business, at the age of 25. Born Lane Clyde Frost on 12 October 1963 in La Junta, Colorado. In 1987 he became the PRCA World Champion Bull Rider. The Final Footprint – Frost is buried next to his hero and mentor Warren Granger “Freckles” Brown at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Hugo, Oklahoma. After Lane’s death, Cody Lambert, one of his traveling partners, and a founder of the Professional Bull Riders (PBR), created the protective vest that all professional cowboys now must wear when riding bulls. In 1994, the biopic movie based on Frost’s life, 8 Seconds, was released. Luke Perry portrayed Frost in the movie. Lane’s best friend Tuff Hedeman was played by Stephen Baldwin. Lane’s memory has been honored in many ways. The medical team for the PBR league is named after Frost, as is the Lane Frost/Brent Thurman Award, given for the highest scoring ride at the PBR World Finals. The Lane Frost Health and Rehabilitation Center in Hugo, Oklahoma is dedicated to his memory. Garth Brooks paid tribute to Frost in his music video for the hit single “The Dance”, as did Randy Schmutz in the song “A Smile Like That.” Also, Texas country music artist Aaron Watson recorded the song “July in Cheyenne” as a tribute to Frost. In addition, the song “Red Rock” by The Smokin’ Armadillos is about Lane, and he is also mentioned at the end of Korn‘s “Hold On” music video. Frost was inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, Colorado in August 1990 and the PBR Ring of Honor in 1999, as well as the Cheyenne Frontier Days Hall of Fame, the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, and the Oklahoma Sports Museum.
On this day in 2003, businessman, record executive, record producer, DJ, label owner, and talent scout throughout the 1940s and 1950s, founder of Sun Studios and Sun Records in Memphis, Sam Phillips died in Memphis at the age of 80. Born Samuel Cornelius Phillips on 5 January 1923 in Florence, Alabama. Through Sun, Phillips discovered such recording talent as Howlin’ Wolf, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash. The height of his success culminated in his launching of Elvis‘ career in 1954. The Final Footprint – Phillips in entombed in the mausoleum Garden of Trees in Memorial Park Cemetery in Memphis. Another notable final footprint at Memorial Park is Isaac Hayes.
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