Friday, April 16, 2010

The face of history


Among the first veterans to use the facilities at the new Bradenton-based Outpatient Clinic this week was Arthur Leenerman, an 85-year-old survivor of the U.S.S. Indianapolis.

The Indianapolis sank in shark-infested waters in the waning days of World War II after being torpedoed by a Japanese submarine.

In looking back through the archives of the Bradenton Herald, the only place where I saw his name was as a bowling team member. Who knew that this special man had been wintering in Bradenton for many years?

Today, only 61 members of the crew of the Indianapolis remain. That's from an original crew of about 1,200. By the time the survivors were plucked from the ocean in 1945, all had been lost save for 316. It still ranks as the Navy's single worst loss of life from one ship.

Take a look at the face of Arthur Leenerman, a gentle upbeat man who experienced more hell on earth than anyone should ever have to endure.

It's right that our nation should provide for folks like Arthur Leenerman, who sacrificed so much.

From time to time, we get complaints about waiting lists to see a VA doctor. But with the expanded facilities at the new clinic, 5520 S. R. 64 E., access should be improved considerably.

The ribbon-cutting for the new facility is set for 9 a.m. Monday, April 19, with Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, doing the honors.

Jim

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