Newspaper Article with title: Awful Ordeals at Sea Related.

Awful Ordeals at Sea Related

MIAMI, Fla. , March 10. ( AP )—The story of three men who survived 83 days on a life raft was told here by a United States navy gunner who never gave up hope “because I knew God was with me all the way.”

Daily prayers were answered, said 20-year-old Seaman Basil D. Izzi of South Barre, Mass., by occasional rainstorms which provided water and by the birds and fish which were caught for food.

Izzi, who lost 58 pounds during the ordeal, and two Dutch merchant seamen were picked up by an American warship January 24 about 2200 miles from the spot where their United Nations freighter was torpedoed November 2, 1942 , off the coast of South America.

Two others, Ensign James Maddox of Lafayette, Ind., seaman, and George Beasley of Hambleton, Mo. , both of the United States navy, died before the raft was found. Their bodies were dropped into the sea while Izzi and the Dutchmen mumbled prayers.

Many Lost Lives.

Maddox was commander of the gun crew on the vessel and Izzi was one of the gunners. Beasley was gunner on a ship which had been torpedoed earlier. Of the 299 aboard 135 were feared lost.

Two torpedoes struck the ship and she sank rapidly.

“I jumped overboard,” Izzi related. “For two days and nights I stayed afloat by holding to wreckage. Finally I sighted a raft with four men on it. They pulled me aboard.”

On the raft with Maddox and the others were about 10 gallons of water, nine cans of milk, a box of chocolate and a few dozen biscuits. “The food lasted about 16 days although our water supply lasted’ until the 25th day,” Izzi said.

Lasso Caught Shark.

“With the food gone, we started, catching sharks, little fish and birds. We got the first shark, about four feet long, with a lasso. The fish swam through the noose and we caught It by the tail.

“The birds—I think we caught about 23 of them alighted on the raft because the sea was too rough for them to come down in the water.

“We prayed all day on Sundays,” Izzi said, adding that on other days they prayed each evening.

After three weeks Beasley became ill but lasted until the 66th day. Maddox died on the 77th day, after the little company had been out of water for five days.

“The next night it rained hard and we had water again, and we caught a big bird,” Izzi recalled.

They saw an airplane the following day. On January 24 they sighted a convoy and signaled one of the escorting vessels.

Referenced By