"I was either going home to Abernathy or I was going home to Hea - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

"I was either going home to Abernathy or I was going home to Heaven"

U.S.S. Indianapolis U.S.S. Indianapolis

Amarillo, TX - An area man was welcomed home Monday after what could be one of the last reunions honoring survivors of the U.S.S. Indianapolis.

Just 23 of the original 317 survivors are still alive today.

During a secret WWII mission, the ship was sunk after being hit by two Japanese torpedoes.

The U.S.S. Indianapolis was targeted by the enemy just four days after delivering bomb materials to the island of Tinian that would later be used to build the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

Within twelve minutes of being hit, the ship capsized, killing 880 sailors.

It was the U.S. Navy's worst tragedy at sea.

Cleatus Lebow of Memphis, TX  was among the survivors.

"We were just out there. So, many people ask me, "What did we do?" What can you do sitting out in the middle of the ocean sitting on a life raft or a life net?" Lebow said of his 5 days spent floating in the ocean. "I feel good. The Lord's been good enough to me to let me stay this long. He's good enough to save me from the ocean."

Even those who had survived the attack and found something to float on were still susceptible to harm.

"We told each other half our life stories, what we were gonna do when we got home, and if they asked what we discussed... there's nothing else to do but be sure you stay up on the floater net to keep the sharks away," Lebow said. "The ocean is just alive with them. There's thousands of them out there."

Eventually, a plane looking for enemy submarines spotted the sailors in the water and sent for a rescue plane.

"I said, "Lord, help me." When I did, I had a feeling of comfort, warm, everything's okay feeling. I knew I was either going home to Abernathy or I was going home to Heaven," Lebow said.

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