Nebraskan Survives Titanic Sinking 100 Years Ago

By: Bill Steckis Email
By: Bill Steckis Email

The massive ship, carrying 2,200 passengers and crew, struck an iceberg in the icy North Atlantic water. More than 15-hundred people froze to death. Seven hundred passengers survived, one of them is Wahoo's Carl Johnson. He is the only Nebraskan to survive the tragic sinking after eight hours in the chilly North Atlantic waters. He passed away in 1978 at the age of 87. Here at the Saunders County Historical Society, there is a display for Carl.. complete with a letter he wrote depicting his grueling attempt to survive. Erin Hauser of the Saunders County Historical Society reads an excerpt from the letter. "Before we were saved which came after 8 hours of struggle in the dark with the plaintive cries that pierce the very marrow of my bones."

Don Proett of the Saunders County Historical Society adds, "They just couldn't all be on there so it was a survival of the fittest. You just scrapped to stay on there and a lot of them were pushed off and he regrets and didn't talk about it a lot for years because he felt so bad about actually pushing others off so he could be saved."

Johnson's World War One army uniform and photos are on display at the museum. He was a Sergeant in the U.S. Army. He said the struggle and the battle for survival in the chilly Atlantic Waters was more difficult than anything he encountered in World War One. "He got out of World War One without a scratch," said Proett.

Howard Manstedt, 94, Carl's Nephew, remembers him fondly. "He was active in the church. He felt a little guilty about you know, everyone was for themselves and he was a big strong man and he had probably an advantage over some of them is my thinking anyhow."

It was considered unsinkable but on the 100th anniversary it's the tragic memory cannot be sunk.


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