24 May 1945 — Tokyo Bay, Japan
Born Sam Henry Bradford on 8 September 1913 at Albany, Texas.
Enlisted as a Private in the Army Air Corps on 17 October 1940 at Chanute Field near Rantoul, Illinois. Assigned to the Air Corps Technical School, 10th Air Base Squadron, he completed Flight Engineer training and served two years in Panama.
Upon returning to the United States, he volunteered for the B-29 Program. On the B-29, he sat behind the Pilot and operated the engine control panel of the aircraft. Underwent aircraft transition and combat crew training at Pyote Army Air Field, Texas. Processed through Herington Air Field, Kansas and deployed to the Central Pacific Theatre of Operations. Assigned to 20th Air Force, XXI Bomber Command, 73rd Bomb Wing, 500th Bombardment Group (VH), 881st Bomb Squadron stationed at Isley Field on Saipan in the Mariana Islands.
During the night of 23-24 May 1945, he flew as the Flight Engineer aboard a Boeing B-29 Superfortress, Tail Code: Z-Square-7 (serial #42-63486).
It was one of 520 aircraft launched in multi-wing group formations to bombard the urban-industrial area south of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan. After bombs away, the plane’s right wing was set afire by flak from anti-aircraft artillery. While departing the target area, the plane was hit with flak in the rear fuselage that destroyed all the flight controls including the intercom. During aircrew bail-out, the plane exploded in mid-air and fell into Tokyo Bay.
He was declared KIA on 24 May 1945.