In Memory of
Navy Hospital Apprentice First Class
Thomas Morgan Bradbury
Howard, South Dakota
Miner County
August 28, 1925 – November 24, 1943
Killed in Action in the Central Pacific on the Liscome Bay

Thomas Morgan Bradbury

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 an excerpt:

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 window.
She stood hiding tears from her other children. When she showed the small jeweler’s
box holding the gold star pin remarked, “What a poor substitute for my son!” Lest
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. & Mrs.

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 was dead.

Thomas Morgan Bradbury headstone

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.

This 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.