Abernathy High grad, USS Indianapolis survivor returns to school - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Abernathy High grad, USS Indianapolis survivor returns to school to tell his story

Cleatus Lebow, USS Indianapolis survivor & Abernathy High grad, 1941 (Source: KCBD) Cleatus Lebow, USS Indianapolis survivor & Abernathy High grad, 1941 (Source: KCBD)
Cleatus Lebow, USS Indianapolis survivor & Abernathy High grad, 1941 (Source: KCBD) Cleatus Lebow, USS Indianapolis survivor & Abernathy High grad, 1941 (Source: KCBD)
(Source: KCBD) (Source: KCBD)
ABERNATHY, TX (KCBD) -

A special alum visited Abernathy High School to speak to students about his time in World War II on Tuesday.

Cleatus Lebow graduated from the school in 1941, just two years before he entered the war and served on the USS Indianapolis.

On July 30, 1945, a Japanese submarine torpedoed the ship, leaving hundreds of men in shark-infested waters with no lifeboats, food, or waters for days.

1,196 men stepped onto that ship. Only 317 made it home. Cleatus was one of them. He says he feels lucky to still be here. 

"After we got hit by a suicide plane in Okinawa, I was on leave, I was home, and they called and I had to go back to the ship three days earlier than I was supposed to," Cleatus said. 

He still remembers every moment from the day their ship was hit. He recalled his mother's words as it started to sink. 

"When the ship got hit by the torpedo and I was walking down the side, I was a scared young man. And I just said a short prayer. Lord help me. And a warm feeling came over me, just like everything was going to be okay. I was either going home to Abernathy, or I was going home to heaven. And it didn't make a difference, I was ready," Cleatus said. 

Just 18 of the survivors are still alive today. Cleatus is now the only Texas survivor still here to tell his story. 

"We lost 881 men, so there's that many families out there that really...I feel sorry for them. I feel like the good Lord answered my mother's prayers and made me lucky," Cleatus said. 

The Mayor of Abernathy proclaimed this day, November 14, 2017, as Cleatus Lebow Day because of his service in World War II, his dedication to American values, and his spirit of selflessness and sacrifice. 

Copyright 2017 KCBD. All rights reserved. 

  • Local News on KCBD.comNewsMore>>

  • Diaz-Canel replaces Raul Castro as Cuba's president

    Diaz-Canel replaces Raul Castro as Cuba's president

    Thursday, April 19 2018 12:11 AM EDT2018-04-19 04:11:58 GMT
    Thursday, April 19 2018 1:06 PM EDT2018-04-19 17:06:21 GMT
    Miguel Diaz-Canal is the first person not named Castro to lead Cuba in 50 years. (Source: CNN)Miguel Diaz-Canal is the first person not named Castro to lead Cuba in 50 years. (Source: CNN)

    Raul Castro's departure from the presidency is a symbolically charged moment for a country that has been under the absolute rule of one family since the Cuban revolution of the 1950s.

    Raul Castro's departure from the presidency is a symbolically charged moment for a country that has been under the absolute rule of one family since the Cuban revolution of the 1950s.

  • Southwest Airlines sought more time for engine inspections

    Southwest Airlines sought more time for engine inspections

    Thursday, April 19 2018 1:02 AM EDT2018-04-19 05:02:22 GMT
    Thursday, April 19 2018 1:14 PM EDT2018-04-19 17:14:49 GMT
    (NTSB via AP). National Transportation Safety Board investigators examine damage to the engine of the Southwest Airlines plane that made an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport in Philadelphia on Tuesday, April 17, 2018. The Southwes...(NTSB via AP). National Transportation Safety Board investigators examine damage to the engine of the Southwest Airlines plane that made an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport in Philadelphia on Tuesday, April 17, 2018. The Southwes...

    The Federal Aviation Administration's announcement late Wednesday comes nearly a year after the engine's manufacturer recommended the additional inspections, and a month after European regulators ordered their airlines to do the work.

    The Federal Aviation Administration's announcement late Wednesday comes nearly a year after the engine's manufacturer recommended the additional inspections, and a month after European regulators ordered their airlines to do the work.

  • Asperger's pioneer and namesake assisted Nazis child euthanasia camps

    Asperger's pioneer and namesake assisted Nazis child euthanasia camps

    Thursday, April 19 2018 12:08 PM EDT2018-04-19 16:08:23 GMT
    Thursday, April 19 2018 1:17 PM EDT2018-04-19 17:17:33 GMT
    The pediatrician,long celebrated for his pioneering work in autism was a willing participant in Nazi killings. (Source: Wikipedia)The pediatrician,long celebrated for his pioneering work in autism was a willing participant in Nazi killings. (Source: Wikipedia)

    The pediatrician long celebrated for his pioneering work in autism was a participant in Nazi killings, a report says. 

    The pediatrician long celebrated for his pioneering work in autism was a participant in Nazi killings, a report says. 

Powered by Frankly