As a march on Washington, it was decidedly modest. On April 22 a dozen World War II veterans strode the halls of Congress trailing Hunter Scott, a 12-year-old boy they hope can right a 53-year-old wrong. "Go get 'em, Hunter!" shouted one of the vets, all survivors of the USS Indianapolis, which was sunk by a Japanese submarine 600 miles from Guam in July 1945. Some 880 men died, many devoured by sharks, before a rescue ship arrived five days later (delayed because authorities had lost track of the Indianapolis, which had been on a mission to deliver atom-bomb components, and were unaware that she was overdue back in the Philippines). Blame fell on Capt. Charles B. McVay III, who was court-martialed for failing to take evasive action—though the Navy hadn't warned him a sub was nearby. "He got a raw deal," says retired petty officer Paul Murphy, 73, leader of the group that has spent decades trying to clear their skipper, who killed himself in 1968.
The men have an improbable ally in Scott, a Pensacola, Fla., seventh grader who researched the disaster as a history-fair project and is lobbying for a bill, introduced by Florida Rep. Joe Scarborough and based largely on Scott's findings, to absolve McVay. "I think people are willing to listen to a serious 12-year-old," says Scott, who interviewed 150 survivors and pored over recently declassified papers proving that Navy intelligence knew an enemy sub was present, yet denied McVay's request for an escort. The Navy's refusal to exonerate McVay doesn't surprise retired naval historian Richard A. von Doenhoff, who in 1991 discovered top-secret reports indicating McVay may not have been to blame. "Eight hundred-plus men were lost," he says. "Someone had to be held accountable." McVay never challenged the decision. But his son Kimo, 70, believes he would salute Hunter Scott. "I'll tell you what my father is thinking," he says.' "Well done, young man. Well done.' "
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