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Doctor Samuel Boyce Bridges, Jr. was born on June 20, 1924 in Cliffside, North Carolina. He was the son of Doctor S.B. Bridges, Sr and Chastity Ann Ritter Bridges. "Doctor" was his given name, as it was his father's. There was no connection to the medical field. In fact, for many years, the elder Doctor Bridges was the head of the weaving department at Cliffside Textile Mill.
"Doc" as he was known, attended and graduated from Cliffside High School in 1940. He then enrolled in Clemson University, studying engineering. On November 20, 1942, he left school to enlist in the Army Air Corps as a private. He was accepted as an aviation cadet, and received basic, primary, and advanced training at Lebanon and Nashville, Tennessee; Maxwell Field, Alabama; and Jackson and Greenville, Mississippi. He graduated, was commissioned, and awarded wings at Jackson, Mississippi on April 15, 1944.
On December 25, 1941, he had married Mary Elizabeth Carpenter.
He was deployed overseas on September 18, 1944, and was assigned to the 406th Fighter Squadron of the 371st Fighter Group. The Group was originally in England, but after D-Day, moved to a forward air strip, ALG Y-1 at Tantonville, France. Lt Bridges flew 58 missions, mostly as bomber escort or ground attack in support of Allied troops.
On March 23, 1945, he was assigned a dive-bombing mission on German positions. In the face of intense flak, he carried out his mission, bombing and strafing the targets. He went to minimum altitude to strafe German transports and gun positions near Speyer, Germany. His aircraft was hit by ground fire, but he radioed his wingman that he would belly-land.
More hits by ground fire set the aircraft ablaze, but Lt Bridges was intent on landing. Evidently, he hit some wires near the ground as the aircraft did a double roll and crashed. He managed to escape from the burning wreckage, but was shot by a sniper. His body was found by Allied troops as they captured the area and town 1 hour later.
He was originally buried in St Avold American Military Cemetery in France, but in 1948, his body was returned to the family. He is now buried in Cliffside Cemetery, North Carolina. The marker there contains an error as it lists his birth day as "June 24,1924." The marker is said to be the tallest in the cemetery.
Lt Doctor Samuel Boyce Bridges, Jr was the pilot of P-47D # 44-19859, unnamed, assigned to the 406th Fighter Squadron.
Missing Air Crew Report 13307 was issued to cover this incident.
Lt Bridges was promoted to the grade of 1st Lieutenant on March 20, 1945.