Soddy Daisy's Paul Mayer talks about being on the crew that located the USS Indianapolis

Paul Mayer was a member of the crew that located the USS Indianapolis at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean in August 2017.

A naval mystery with local ties maybe more than most folks realize.

In August of 2017 the remains of the sunken USS Indianapolis were found by Paul G. Allen's Research Vessel Petrel.

There are threads of the USS Indianapolis story across southeast Tennessee.

The sinking of that ship is called the worst US Naval disaster in history.

Five of the roughly 900 men who were killed in the sinking were from Marion County, Tennessee.

Chattanooga native Kayo Erwin.passed away a few months ago, but he was one of the 317 men who survived the sinking.

"I run down the side and dove in and swam as far as I could to get away from the ship to keep from it pulling me down," Kayo Erwin told us in 2016. "All I could see was the last tail end of the ship going down."

We have told Mr. Erwin's story in the past on the Price of Freedom

He survived the sinking and the four days and five nights floating at sea in shark infested waters, but for 72 years no one had seen the USS Indianapolis

"Indianapolis was always number one," Paul Mayer, a member on the crew of Paul G. Allen's Research Vessel Petrel, told us.

Paul Mayer grew up in California, but after school spent years in the Cayman Islands working on submarines.

"From there up to Soddy Daisy," Mayer told us he moved here after his in-laws moved to the area.

So now he lives here most of the year, but works a couple months at a time with a team on the Research Vessel finding and documenting shipwrecks from World War II.

It's a project started by micro-soft co-founder and philanthropist Paul Allen

"I will go up to Washington D. C. and go to the National Archives and go through their records trying to put together a package for the next shipwreck we're looking for," Paul Mayer said.

And then he goes on the missions. He was part of the team that found The USS Indianapolis in August 2017.

They split into two groups and work 12 hour shifts.

I asked Paul Mayer where he was when the Indianapolis was found he told me, "sleeping."

He says he woke up and went into the control room

"I just popped my head in and everyone just kind of looked at me and kinda shook their head," Paul Mayer said. "So I kinda took that as a good sign. We had found the bow that night."

They found the rest of the ship about a nautical mile from the rest of the ship.

"It's in excellent condition. You know the paint is still on it, very little rust," Paul Mayer said. "That's what amazes me."

Paul Mayer told me after he returned from the mission he met with Kayo Erwin and his family.

There is a special on this mission to find the USS Indianapolis.

It will premiere on PBS on January 8th at 10 PM Eastern you can find it locally on WTCI.

Also, Paul G Allen, the philanthropist behind these missions, passed away a few months ago.

Paul Mayer tells me his work will continue.

The team that he's a part of has a full schedule of projects for 2019.

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