Robert Whitman's photo from 1938 Harvard College yearbook.
|Lt. Robert Whitman was serving on the USS Indianapolis when it was torpedoed as depicted in this painting.|
Robert Taft Whitman could have been 100 years old today.
He was born on April 9, 1917 in Rhode Island. His mother was also born in Rhode Island and his father was born in New York. His father was a bond salesman and later a banker. Robert had two younger brothers and two younger sisters. Sometime in the 1930's his parents divorced. By 1940 Robert had completed four years of college at Harvard University and was working as a clerk while living in Connecticut with his mother and siblings.
Robert was a lieutenant in the US Navy Reserves serving on the USS Indianapolis. The Indianapolis mostly operated in the Pacific Theater. It was the ship that delivered the enriched uranium to Tinian that was used in the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. After that mission it sailed for Leyte, but never made it. It was sunk on July 30. 1945 by torpedoes fired from a Japanese submarine. While nearly 900 of the Indianapolis's 1,196 men survived the sinking, the distress signal was tragically ignored and they suffered in shark invested waters for more than three days. Only 317 ultimately made it home. Lt. Whitman was not one of them.
Lt. Whitman was lost at sea but there is a cenotaph honoring him at Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery.
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