WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn) applauded the passage of the USS Indianapolis (CA-35) Congressional Gold Medal Act, S. 2101, in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday. The bill awards a Congressional Gold Medal to the crew of the USS Indianapolis, including Waterbury native Navy Chaplain Lieutenant Thomas M. Conway. Murphy has worked with the Waterbury Veterans Memorial Committee and veterans’ organizations across the country to honor LT Father Conway. Earlier this year, Murphy placed a statement in the Congressional Record honoring LT Father Conway on what would have been his 110th birthday.
LT Father Conway, who grew up on Cooke Street in Waterbury, was a chaplain aboard the USS Medusa and the USS Indianapolis during the Second World War. Father Conway was among the roughly 900 sailors left in the water facing shark attacks, dehydration, and exposure after the USS Indianapolis was torpedoed. For three straight days, LT Father Conway swam back and forth among crew members, helping individual sailors who drifted away to rejoin their comrades, organizing prayer groups, and urging the increasingly dehydrated and delirious men not to give up hope of rescue. He died on the third night, August 2, 1945, shortly before Navy pilots spotted the survivors. Just 316 men survived, making the sinking of the USS Indianapolis the single greatest loss of life at sea in the history of the U.S. Navy. The living survivors of the USS Indianapolis and the Waterbury Veterans Memorial Committee have made it their mission to make sure Father Conway is recognized by the U.S. Navy for his acts of heroism, saving many of their comrades’ lives at sea.
“LT Father Conway is a hero. He risked his life helping to save others and give comfort to those who were dying. I’ve been proud to work with the Waterbury Veterans Memorial Committee for years to honor his legacy. The Congressional Gold Medal is a much-deserved recognition to LT Father Conway and the USS Indianapolis crew members for their bravery and service to our country,” said Murphy.
The bill now awaits passage in the U.S. House of Representatives.