In Memory of
Navy S 2C
Wayne Aaron Bridge
Wagner, South Dakota
Charles Mix County
June 14, 1927 – July 30, 1945
Missing in Action on the USS Indianapolis

Wayne Aaron Bridge

Wayne Aaron Bridge was born on June 14, 1927, to James and Phyllis Bridge on the family farm near Wagner. Wayne had a large family of seven boys and four girls.   Wayne was a “very quiet person, always willing to help anyone at any time, loved to be outside and work on the farm,” wrote his brother Ray, closest in age to Wayne.  He attended country school and later went to high school in Wagner until he entered the service.  Ray also remembers that Wayne was good at fixing things, would have been a good ball player, and said, “I only saw Wayne mad or angry once.... he was always the sane one.” Wayne’s sister, Berniece, said, “Wayne didn’t really have too much of life for us to remember, 17 years is all. More like one of my children to me, so much younger.”  In fact, Wayne lived and worked with Berniece’s family on their farm for a time before enlisting.

Wayne wanted to enlist in the Navy but needed a parent to sign him up since he was only 17. Ray recalled Wayne telling his Papa, “It doesn’t matter where or what you’re doing, if it’s your time to go, it’ll happen.” So his Papa agreed; on March 27, 1945, Wayne completed his basic training at the Naval Training Center, Great Lakes, Illinois, and was then assigned to the U.S.S Indianapolis as a Seaman Second Class. Before being shipped off to the Pacific theater, Wayne was home on leave on April 12, 1945, the day that President Roosevelt passed away.

In his one of his last letters home, dated June 1, 1945, Wayne wrote:

...I feel kind of ashamed of myself  for not writing as long as letters as you do but can’t because nothing to write about. If I could, I would write you a ten page letter but can’t write about what I want to.... I’m all right, Mom. Don’t worry.

On July 30, 1945, Seaman 2/C Wayne A. Bridge was lost at sea aboard the Indianapolis after delivering atomic bomb parts to the island of Tinian in the Pacific.  The U.S.S Indianapolis was sunk by torpedoes fired by a Japanese submarine. Seaman Wayne A. Bridge perished along with 880 members of the crew; those who survived spent many days in the shark-infested waters before being rescued. Wayne’s brother, Lee, tells us that “It was the last ship to be lost in WW II.”

 A letter arrived on July 30, 1945, informing the family that Wayne was missing. The Navy wrote to the Bridge family late in the summer of 1945:

...By this time you have probably received this Bureau’s telegram informing you that your
son, previously reported missing, is now known to have lost his life on 30 July 1945.

                The Commanding Officer of the U.S.S Indianapolis has reported to the Bureau of Naval                    Personnel.  As soon as his official reports are concluded, he will write to the next of kin   giving details concerning the circumstances under which your son lost his life....

USS Indianapolis (1932 – 1945) “Still at Sea”

USS Indianapolis (1932 – 1945) “Still at Sea”

National Monument Memorial Dedication

National Monument Memorial Dedication
August 2, 1995
Indianapolis, Indiana

This entry was respectfully submitted by Logan Hall, 8th Grade West, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, South Dakota, November 22, 2000. Information for this entry was provided by Mr. Lee Bridge, Mr. Ray Bridge, and Mrs. Berniece (Bridge) Wiechmann Hawley, siblings of Seaman 2/C Wayne Aaron Bridge.