Real Heroes – Bridges, D. S. Boyce, Jr.
Bridges, D. S. Boyce, Jr.
March 23, 1945
D. S. Boyce Bridges, Jr., was born June 20, 1924, in a house next to the school on Main Street in Cliffside, North Carolina. He was the youngest of seven children of Doctor Samuel Boyce Bridges, Sr., and Retter Daves Bridges. Boyce, Jr., attended school in Cliffside and was graduated from Cliffside High School in 1940. During his boyhood he was a member of the Cliffside Boy Scout Troop No. 1, and he joined Cliffside Baptist Church when he was eight years old. He attended Clemson College and on December 25, 1941, he married Mary Elizabeth Carpenter.
On November 20, 1942, Boyce, Jr., enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps and began training in Miami Beach, Florida. During his cadet training period, he was stationed at Lebanon and Nashville, Tennessee; Maxwell Field, Alabama; and Jackson and Greenville, Mississippi. Boyce, Jr., received his pilot’s wings and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant at Jackson Army Air Base in Mississippi on April 15, 1944. He was sent overseas on September 18, 1944, and served in the 406th Fighter Squadron, 371st Fighter Group in the European Theater of Operations. Because his first given name was Doctor, his fellow servicemen called him “Doc.”
As a P-47 Thunderbolt Fighter Pilot, Lieutenant Bridges flew 58 missions from England to the continent during the last days of World War II. For his outstanding service, he was promoted to the rank of First Lieutenant on March 20, 1945. On March 23, 1945, he successfully dive-bombed a ferry on the Rhine. In the face of intense anti-aircraft fire, he gallantly descended to minimum altitude to strafe an enemy transport and gun position near Speyer, Germany. His plane was caught in enemy flak and crashed. Lieutenant Bridges escaped from the plane but was shot and killed by a sniper. His body was found by the Allies one hour later as they took the town.
Lieutenant Bridges was initially interred in the St. Avold American Military Cemetery in France. In 1948 his remains were sent home to rest in the Cliffside Cemetery. His monument is the tallest one in that cemetery.
Lieutenant Boyce Bridges, Jr., posthumously received the following awards and decorations: the Silver Star Medal, the Air Medal with Four Oak-Leaf Clusters, the Purple Heart for having made the supreme sacrifice in the service of his country, the European-African Middle Eastern Theater Ribbon with two Bronze Service Stars for the Rhineland and Central Europe Campaigns, the World War II Victory Ribbon, the Pilot Aviation Badge,the American Theater Ribbon, and the Good Conduct Medal. His name is engraved on the Greenville County (SC) Veterans Wall of Remembrance and the Battle of Normandy Foundation Wall of Liberty. He is an honoree of the World War II Memorial to be completed by 2004 in Washington, D.C.
(Submitted by nieces Anne C. Cargill and Paula M.Cargill and by nephew John B. Cargill)
Photos courtesy of nieces Anne C. Cargill and Paula M. Cargill and nephew John B. Cargill.
Bridges, D. S. Boyce, Jr.
Second Lieutenant Boyce Bridges, Jr., and Major H. Paul Bridges of Cliffside met in France after a period of two years without having seen each other. The two brothers were stationed in French towns only a few miles apart.Second Lieutenant Bridges was a pilot in the U.S. Army Air Corps, and Major Bridges was with the Quartermaster Corps. Major Bridges saw his brother in uniform for the first time; neither have ever had leaves at the same time since they have been in service. They were the only sons of Mrs. Boyce Bridges and the late Mr. Bridges of Cliffside. First Lieutenant Bridges’s wife was the former Miss Mary Carpenter of Avondale, and Major Bridges’s wife was the former Miss Hazel Haynes of Cliffside. (Forest City Courier, January 25, 1945)
First Lieutenant D. S. Boyce Bridges, Jr., of Cliffside, was killed March 23, in Germany, according to a War Department message received by his wife. First Lieutenant Bridges (June 20, 1924*—March 23, 1945) entered service from Clemson College in February 1943. He received his commission as Second Lieutenant in the Air Corps at Jackson, Mississippi, on April 5, 1944. He left for overseas duty on September 18, 1944. First Lieutenant Bridges was a P-47 Thunderbolt pilot with the Ninth Air Force. He had completed 56 missions and had received the Air Medal and Four Oak-Leaf Clusters. He was promoted to First Lieutenant three days before his death.
First Lieutenant Bridges’s brother. Major H. Paul Bridges, was stationed only a few miles from his brother’s air base in France; they spent several hours together only two days before First Lieutenant Bridges’s death. Major Bridges was able to obtain many details concerning First Lieutenant Bridges’s death and to write about them to his family. First Lieutenant Bridges was to be buried with military honors and ceremonies by his group. At the time Major Bridges wrote, the services had not been held, and he was to be notified of the time and place so that he could attend.
First Lieutenant Bridges was survived by his wife, Mrs. Mary Carpenter Bridges of Avondale; his mother, Mrs. Boyce Bridges, Sr., of Cliffside; three sisters: Mrs. Mabel Cargill of Henrietta, Mrs. Inez Ashe of Greensboro, and Miss Wytle Bridges of Cliffside; and one brother, Major H. Paul Bridges, in France. (Forest City Courier, April 12, 1945)
* The marker at the cemetery is in error. Although Boyce Bridges was actually born on June 20, 1924, his marker at the Cliffside Cemetery has June 24, 1924, as his birth date.
Memorial services for First Lieutenant D. S. Boyce Bridges were held at Temple Baptist Church at Henrietta. Sunday afternoon, April 22. Ministers taking part in the services were the Reverend F. E. Dabney, pastor of the Temple Church; the Reverend J. A. Hunnicutt of Greenville, South Carolina; the Reverend 0. D. Moore of Cliffside; and Chaplain L. W. Cain, who had recently returned from service overseas. There was special music by the choir, and Miss Virginia Christy of Avondale sang, “Crossing the Bar” with Miss Lucile Wall at the piano. Mr. Hunnicutt paid high tribute to Lieutenant Bridges as a young man of admirable qualities and sterling character. He was beloved by everyone and had scores of friends who mourn his untimely death. Chaplain Cain in his remarks paid high tribute to young men of America who were making the supreme sacrifice in the war. Having just returned from long months overseas with men in combat service, he was qualified to know what our soldiers were going through and the unselfish sacrifices they were making.
The high esteem in which First Lieutenant Bridges was held was evidenced by the numbers of friends attending the service; many of them stood throughout the service. There were many beautiful flowers as a farewell tribute.
First Lieutenant Bridges enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1942 while he was a student at Clemson. He went overseas in September of 1944 and served in the European theatre of operations. He was a pilot of the P-47 Thunderbolt fighter plane and was promoted to First Lieutenant only three days before his death. He was killed on March 23 over Germany. (Forest City Courier, May 3, 1945)
The Silver Star was awarded posthumously to First Lieutenant Boyce Bridges, Jr., Cliffside, “for gallantry in action while participating in aerial flight against the enemy on 23 March 1945.” First Lieutenant Bridges was killed over Germany on March 23. He was a pilot of a P-47 Thunderbolt plane.
The medal will be presented to his wife, Mrs. Mary Carpenter Bridges of Henrietta, at a later date. (Forest City Courier, August 16, 1945)
In a ceremony at her home Sunday afternoon at 3 o’clock, Mrs. Boyce Bridges, Jr., of Henrietta, received the Silver Star Medal and Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters awarded posthumously to her husband, First Lieutenant Boyce Bridges, Jr. Colonel Wilbur J. Fox of Camp Croft, South Carolina, made the awards. The invocation and benediction were by the Reverend L. W. Cain of the Temple Baptist Church of Henrietta.
The citations for the medals are as follows:
- Air Medal and Two Oak-Leaf Clusters:
- “For meritorious Air achievement while participating in sustained operational flights against the enemy.”
- Silver Star:
- “For gallantry in action while participating in aerial flight against the enemy on March 23, 1945. Lieutenant Bridges exhibited extraordinary courage and devotion to duty while leading a flight on a bombing mission in conjunction with air-ground operations. After successfully dive-bombing a ferry on the Rhine, in the face of intense anti-aircraft fire, he gallantly descended to minimum altitude to strike an enemy transport and gun positions. His superior airmanship and determination despite innumerable odds were contributing factors to the success of the allied air offensive and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Army Air Forces.”
First Lieutenant Bridges was killed March 23 while on a flight over Germany. His wife was the former Miss Mary Carpenter of Henrietta. He was the son of Mrs. Boyce Bridges and the late Mr. Boyce Bridges. (Rutherford County News, January 10, 1946.) He is buried in the Cliffside Cemetery.
From Real Heroes: Rutherford County Men Who Made the Supreme Sacrifice During World War II, by Anita Price Davis. Copyright © 2002 by The Honoribus Press, Spartanburg, SC. Reprinted with permission.