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WASHINGTON — Congress has awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, its highest honor, to surviving crew members of the USS Indianapolis, the ship that delivered key components of the first nuclear bomb and was later sunk by Japan during World War II.

The ship, with 1,195 personnel aboard, delivered enriched uranium and other parts of the atomic bomb “Little Boy” that was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, in August 1945.

Four days after delivering its top-secret cargo, the ship was sunk by Japanese torpedoes July 30, 1945. Of nearly 900 men who went into the Philippine Sea, just 316 survived before being rescued nearly five days later. The death toll of 879 was the largest single disaster at sea in U.S. Navy history.

Survivors were stranded in the open ocean with few lifeboats and almost no food or water, enduring severe burns, dehydration and shark attacks.

“In an instant, her crew went from fighting the battles without to fighting the battles within,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, one of a host of congressional and Navy leaders who spoke at Thursday’s virtual ceremony honoring the eight surviving crew members on the 75th anniversary of the sinking.

The Gold Medal was awarded to the ship’s entire crew, living and dead, and will be displayed at the Indiana War Memorial Museum in Indianapolis.

Retired Navy Capt. William Toti, who led a nuclear submarine named in honor of the Indianapolis, said the Gold Medal honors the

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