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USS Indianapolis project collecting stories of Hoosiers lost at sea

The USS Indianapolis Legacy Organization is trying to find photos and biographies of all 888 service members killed in that tragedy, who served and sacrificed.

INDIANAPOLIS — A quest is underway right now to compile the stories of Hoosier heroes lost at sea during WWII.

Project 888 is through the USS Indianapolis Legacy Organization and they need your help. They're trying to find photos and biographies of all 888 service members killed in that tragedy, who served and sacrificed.

Michael William Emery is on the legacy organization's education team, on a mission to collect memories. He wants to help locate the families of Hoosier heroes from the worst maritime disaster in U.S. history.

"Specifically we're looking for 25 Hoosier heroes who served the Indianapolis and did not come home to their family's loving embrace," Emery explained

The USS Indianapolis is well-documented and its history is well-shared with a museum inside the Indiana War Memorial in downtown Indianapolis.

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Most of us know about the tragedy, the heroic survivors, the tremendous loss of life.

But there are still stories left to tell, including courageous heroes whose lives largely remain a mystery, like 2nd Class Seaman Carl E. Mires and 1st Class Seaman Robert E. Kollinger.

They're both from Indianapolis and both died when the U.S.S. Indianapolis went down.

But we don't know much else about them.

Project 888 aims to rediscover those crew members and share their stories in an online archive.

"We want to share who they were growing up as a child, their families, their parents, their talents, their gifts, what their goals and dreams were for the future," Emery explained, "and to remind everyone that they gave the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms that we have today."

RELATED: Family of DC sailor aboard USS Indianapolis finally gets answers after nearly 77 years

This project is personal for Emery.

He carries a Purple Heart, earned by his Uncle Bill in that same disaster, everywhere he goes.

"I come from a family that's lost at sea," Emery said. "My uncle namesake went down with the ship. He was only 19 years old."

Credit: Michael William Emery
Seaman First Class William Friend Emery was lost at sea at the age of 19 when the USS Indianapolis was attacked.

Emery knows the importance of sharing a loved one's legacy. 

He now hopes local families will spot a service member on their list, reach out online and share their story, making sure heroes lost at sea aren't lost to history, too

"Hopefully they can recognize a name or location or a street address and know, 'Hey, I think I know that family'," he said. "We want to bring light to that and we want them to be remembered, because to be remembered is to live forever."

All of these stories, mementos and memories will be shared on USSIndianapolis.com

To see the names of the crew members who still need biographical information and see if you recognize or know any of them, click here. It's also where you can email and share their stories for the project.

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