Second Lieut. Arnold M. Bridges was trained in the U.S. Army Air Corps (the U.S. Air Force became its own service in 1947) to fly a Lockheed P-38 Lightning. These twin-boom (each with an Allison V-1710 engine -- turbo-supercharged, 1,425 hp, V-12) fighter planes performed admirably throughout WWII, especially against the Japanese. Notable among the pllots who flew P-38s in the war were "Ace of Aces" Major Richard Bong (1920-1945, 40 victories, and famous for having a photo of his fiancée named Marge [Vattendahl, 1923-2003] as nose-art on his plane) and Charles Lindbergh (1902-1974, the world's most-famous aviator). P-38 Lightnings are credited with the destruction of more Japanese aircraft than any other type of US fighter.
Lieutenant Bridges was an outstanding pilot (P-38 fighter pilots were selected on the basis of highly competitive mock dogfights after 350 hours flight time), and considered to be a 'TOPGUN' by today's standards. He was en route to serve in the Pacific Theater of Operations when the Martin B-26 Maurder Bomber (this aircraft received the reputation as a "Widowmaker" due to the early models' high rate of accidents during takeoffs and landings) he was a passenger in, along with 3 other freshly-trained pilots and crew, crashed into a vacant lot just outside Wold-Chamberlain Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota (see clipping from the Syracuse [NY] Herald–Journal).
Lieutenant Bridges' death on April 12, 1944 (age 22) left his fiancée, Marge Bloetscher, in shock. The Bridges family passed on his Pilot Wings to her; and it, plus a "Sweetheart" WWII Silver Charm Bracelet, were found among her effects (see photo) when she died at age 91 on June 24, 2012.
The inscription on his headstone at the Bridges' family burial plot in Roseland Park Cemetery in Berkley, Michigan reads:
"LIVE AS THOUGH YOU WOULD DIE TOMORROW,
DIE AS THOUGH YOU WOULD LIVE FOREVER."