City's sole USS Indianapolis survivor, 35-year firefighter dead at 92

James E. O'Donnell retired from IFD in 1981

INDIANAPOLIS - The sole Indianapolis survivor of the 1945 sinking of the USS Indianapolis has died at the age of 92.

James E. O'Donnell died Wednesday afternoon at Community North Hospital, the Indianapolis Fire Department reported.

In addition to his service on the USS Indianapolis, O'Donnell served as an Indianapolis firefighter for 35 years until he retired as a lieutenant in 1981.

"The Indianapolis Fire Department is proud to have such an example in James O’Donnell for dedication, service, brotherhood and compassion," said IFD spokeswoman Rita Burris. "His 35 years of protecting lives, saving property and community service will forever remain a cornerstone in the IFD history."

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard issued a statement on O'Donnell's death reading, "Jimmy O'Donnell personified history and service to this country and city... As a USS Indianapolis survivor and retired firefighter, Jimmy O'Donnell was an American hero and a great citizen of Indianapolis."

O’Donnell is survived by his wife of 70 years, Mary Alice. They recently celebrated their marital milestone on New Year’s Eve.

He is survived by 4 children and 11 grandchildren.

O'Donnell's grandson, James P. O'Donnell, is currently a member of the IFD.

Print this article Back to Top