HARTFORD—Following years-long efforts to posthumously award the Navy Cross—the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps’ second-highest military decoration for extraordinary heroism—for Waterbury native Navy Chaplain Lieutenant Father Thomas Conway, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) on Friday applauded the U.S. Navy on its announcement they would be making the award. 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. On July 30, 1945, LT Father Conway was aboard the USS Indianapolis when it was torpedoed and sunk by a Japanese submarine. For nearly three days, LT Father Conway heroically swam back and forth, helping hundreds of sailors rejoin their comrades, organizing prayer groups, giving last rights and urging the increasingly dehydrated and delirious sailors not to give up hope of rescue.
“The veterans' community of Waterbury simply would not take no for an answer, and finally, Father Conway is being recognized as a true American hero who should rest in the pantheon of the most heroic figures to every serve our great armed forces. This day is long in the making. For years, we have heard eyewitness accounts from veterans aboard the USS Indianapolis of LT Father Conway’s heroism, and I’m proud to have helped lead the effort with veterans groups across the country to make sure that LT Father Conway’s story was heard and that the Navy honors his legacy with the Navy Cross, which he rightfully deserves,” said Murphy.
In 2014, Murphy launched an effort to ensure the U.S. Navy posthumously awarded LT Father Conway with the Navy Cross, the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps’ second-highest military decoration for extraordinary heroism. Murphy worked closely with Secretary of the Waterbury veterans Memorial Committee Bob Dorr, the entire Waterbury Veterans Committee, and veterans’ organizations across the country to secure the award for LT Father Conway. He also introduced a Senate resolution in 2014 to award Father Conway with the Navy Cross, and, joined by U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, presented new evidence and documentation about LT Father Conway’s actions to the Navy. In 2018, Murphy applauded the passage of the USS Indianapolis (CA-35) Congressional Gold Medal Act, S. 2101, in the U.S. Senate, which awarded the Congressional Gold Medal to the crew of the USS Indianapolis, including LT Father Conway.