(Senate - March 20, 2018)

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[Congressional Record Volume 164, Number 48 (Tuesday, March 20, 2018)]
[Page S1835]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  Mr. MURPHY. Mr. President, today I wish to honor the life and legacy 
of a World War II hero: Lt. Rev. Thomas M. Conway, born April 5, 1908, 
in Waterbury, CT. Father Conway, who was born 110 years ago next month, 
was an American hero who, after the sinking of the USS Indianapolis, 
went from lifeboat to lifeboat in shark-infested waters to care for his 
fellow sailors in a manner far above the call of duty.
  The courage of the brave men who served on the USS Indianapolis, who 
delivered critical parts to the first atomic bomb used in combat, 
helped bring about the end of World War II. After their mission was 
complete, they were intercepted on their way to join with the rest of 
the Pacific fleet for the invasion of mainland Japan. Two torpedoes 
from a Japanese submarine struck the Indianapolis on July 30, 1945, 
sinking the battleship and immediately killing 300 of the 1,196 sailors 
aboard. The remaining 900 sailors were left to fend for their lives in 
the shark-infested Pacific, spending 3 days with few lifeboats or 
supplies and no way to notify the Navy of their peril.
  Father Conway, as chaplain, disregarded his own safety by swimming 
back and forth among the men, administering aid, helping to gather 
those who had drifted from the mass of survivors, and continuing to 
minister and organize group prayers. His heroism gave comfort to the 
dying and helped save the lives of the 321 sailors who were rescued 
from the sea. Father Conway's acts of bravery took a physical toll, and 
he succumbed to the elements shortly before rescuers arrived. As one 
surviving sailor said of Father Conway, ``He was the most visible 
person keeping the men together, giving them hope and sacrificing 
himself to keep his fellow sailors united, calm, and alert.''
  The legacy of Father Conway continues to inspire his family, fellow 
sailors, and the people of Connecticut. That is why next month, in 
recognition of his birthday, we pause to reflect upon and celebrate his 
courageous actions. His selflessness and bravery are the epitome of an 
American hero.