Thomasville Times Enterprise

January 25, 2013

Local war hero dies at 88

Staff report

THOMASVILLE — A soft-spoken, kind World War II hero, a Thomasville native, died Thursday at his home.

Kenley MacKendree Lanter, 88, a Thomasville resident, was a survivor of the USS Indianapolis, which was sunk by the Japanese in the Pacific Ocean in 1945, after the ship delivered components of an atomic bomb to a Pacific island.

The bomb was dropped on Japan.

After joining the U.S. Navy in 1943, Lanter attended the University of Illinois Signal School and, as signalman third class, was assigned to the USS Indianapolis heavy cruiser, flagship of the Fifth Fleet in the Pacific and President Delano Roosevelt's Ship of State.

Lanter's overseas duties included Asian Pacific Raids, Yap, Palau, Ulithi, Woleai, the Marianna's "Turkey Shoot", Saipan, Tinian, Guam, the first Battle of the Philippine Sea, Western Carolinas, Raids of Japan, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

Decorations awarded were the Purple Heart, Navy Unit Commendation and ribbons for Combat Action and Asiatic Pacific Badge with six stars.

The USS Indianapolis was sunk by Japanese submarine torpedoes after completing a highly secret mission, delivering components for the atomic bomb that ended World War II.

The ship sank — in 12 minutes — soon after midnight in the Pacific Ocean on July 30, 1945.

Some 1,200 crewmen escaped into the ocean. Only 317 survived and were recovered, among them Lanter.

Later a Thomasville business owner, Lanter was active in local veterans organizations and a number of civic organizations.