In Memory of
Navy Hospital Apprentice First Class
Thomas Morgan Bradbury
Howard, South Dakota
August 28, 1925 – November 24, 1943
Killed in Action in the Central Pacific on the Liscome Bay
Thomas “Tommy” Morgan Bradbury was born August 28, 1925, at his grandmother’s
home in Howard, South Dakota. He was born to Bert and Mary Bradbury and was the
eighth of twelve children, four boys and eight girls. Thomas was hired to run a
popcorn shop in the summer. He bought a bicycle with the money he earned. It
was the first one in the family. He attended Howard Public School until he
entered the Navy when he was 16.
When asked about Tommy, his surviving siblings were able to provide touching
memories of their beloved brother. His sister June remembers, “When he was a
baby, I loved to sing him to sleep.” Beverly, another of Thomas’ sisters, said,
“I remember Tommy having the winter chore of bringing in the fuel for our
heater. He would sing while waiting for the smaller can to fill from a barrel we
had on our back porch.” Tommy’s sister, Beth, remembers that for her birthday,
“Tommy used to hide a dime under my plate for a present. His sister, Iva, has
written about her family’s experience in a piece called “Memorial Day.” From it
One particular mother will neither be forgotten (nor did she
forget before shejoined her son in Heaven.) I remember when she stood behind
the lace curtains
placing a gold star over one of the four stars on the flag that hung in the
She stood hiding tears from her other children. When she showed the small
box holding the gold star pin remarked, “What a poor substitute for my son!”
we forget? Never!
Tommy Bradbury volunteered for the Navy because his brothers, Stewart,
Everette, and Theophilus Bradbury were already serving their country. Before he
left for Navy training, he had written a letter to his sister June that said:
Dear Mr. &
How are you two getting along in this mixed up world any
way? Say June did you get to see this camp when you were out here that time?
It’s about 40 miles from Rapid City, and about a ˝ mile from Silver City. I
don’t do much here but eat and sleep, and I gained 10 pounds, so I’m not doing
so bad. No more to say so so long.
Tommy came home on a brief visit after boot
camp at Camp Wanzer, Silver City, South Dakota. He received his Navy training
at Camp Farragut, Idaho. There he obtained the rank of Hospital Apprentice
First Class. Later he was shipped to the South Pacific after his training.
After Hosp Ap 1C Bradbury was sent overseas,
he was assigned to an aircraft carrier called the Liscome Bay. One day
while the ship was sailing on the South Pacific, it was torpedoed by a Japanese
submarine. Navy Hosp Ap 1C Thomas Bradbury was reported missing in action, but
later he was presumed dead. One of the survivors said that Bradbury had gone
down to get the Captain some coffee. He thought that Thomas probably couldn’t
have been able to get away from the burning ship. Thomas’ parents then heard of
the Liscome Bay’s being torpedoed. This was very rare because usually
the Navy informed the parents before the general public heard about it.
Therefore, Thomas’ parents held onto hope that their son was still alive. After
twelve months of missing in action status, Navy Hosp Ap 1C Thomas Bradbury’s
status was officially changed. His family’s worst nightmares came true. Tommy
Thomas Bradbury received the Purple Heart in
honor of his sacrifice in the South Pacific. He was buried at sea. Thomas’s
name is on the Tablets of the Missing at Honolulu Memorial in Hawaii. There is
also a memorial marker for him at Black Hills National Cemetery. He was
posthumously awarded the Purple Heart.
entry was respectfully submitted by Joseph E. Cooch, 8th Grade West,
Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, South Dakota, November 3, 2000. Information
for this entry was provided by Beverly Prostollo, Iva Hyams, June, and Beth,
sisters of Hospital Apprentice First Class Thomas Bradbury.