While we we're visiting the World War II memorial after we first arrived in D.C., I noticed a man wearing a windbreaker that said, "U.S.S. Indianapolis" on the back. For those of you who might not know about that ship and its mission, think back to the movie "Jaws".
Remember when Captain Quint was talking about delivering bomb parts during the war and being sunk by a Japanese torpedo, spending days in the ocean with sharks all around them? That was the U.S.S. Indianapolis' final mission, which turned into the deadliest at sea loss during the war.
It turned out the guy in the windbreaker was a very unassuming gentleman named Cleatus Lebow, and he was the first person I wanted to interview. Here was this very quiet veteran, who was more than obliging to talk about a horrific event in his life, and yet, he always deflected any mention of his heroism.
That was a common theme we discovered throughout the week. Not one person we talked to would accept the mantle of hero. They all talked about the people back home who sacrificed, or those who laid down their lives but not a one would let Meredith or I call them a hero.
For the record, they are all the most heroic people I have ever had the honor and pleasure of meeting. And in my opinion, Cleatus is at the top of the list, along with the rest of those who served and fought for all of us.