David Hart Brophy, a combat navigator for the Eighth Air Force during World War II, who successfully completed twenty-five daylight bombing missions over Germany, including the infamous Schweinfurt raid, died Monday, June 12, of natural causes. He was 101years old and had been a resident of Beaufort for nearly forty years.
Mr. Brophy was born on May 14, 1916, in New York City, to Lewis Lans Brophy and Anna Hart Brophy. He grew up in the Bronx and attended New York University. Prior to World War II he enlisted in the Seventh Regiment New York National Guard, and upon entry of the United States into the war, he transferred to the Army Air Corp. There he became a navigator, training in Sacramento, California, and was posted to Ridgewell, Essex, England, where he flew twenty-five missions over Europe from 1943-1944 in a B-17.
His sixth mission, on October, 14, 1943, was to Schweinfurt, Germany, to bomb the ball-bearing factories there. It was a day that came to be known as “Black Thursday,” as 291 B-17s left England, 229 bombed the target, and 60 bombers were lost. Crew casualties amounted to 639 men. Mr. Brophy was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air medal with Three Oak Leaf Clusters.
After the war, he joined the American Viscose Corporation and worked for several textile firms before forming his own company, Horchler-Brophy, in 1960 in New York City. Later he joined Dixie Yarns, Inc. of Chattanooga, Tennessee, retiring as the head of the New York City office in 1982.
Mr. Brophy lived in Rye, New York, for most of his adult life and was prominent in the Republican party as well as serving as a vice chairman of the Rye Planning Commission for many years. He was a member of the Manursing Island Club, the American Yacht Club, the Williams Club of New York City, the Seventh Regiment Veterans Association and a director of the Theodore Gordon Flyfishers. After retiring, he lived in Bridgewater, Connecticut, for several years prior to moving to Beaufort.
In Beaufort he was a member of the Beaufort Rotary Club, the Dataw Island Club, the Eighth Air Force Historical Society and the 381st Bombardiers Group Association.
Mr. Brophy was married twice, to Marjorie Kohl, from whom he was divorced, and to Irene Sippel Powers, who predeceased him. He is survived by his son, Peter Brophy, of Denver, Colorado, his daughter, Janice Billingsley, of New York City, his stepdaughters Barbara Powers and Joan Harwood, both of Savannah, Georgia, together with four grandsons, four granddaughters and five great-grandsons.
The family would like to thank Maria Amely of Beaufort, whose competent and compassionate care so enriched the last years of his life. They are also grateful to the entire staff of Morningside of Beaufort, where he lived for nearly a decade. They cared for him with untiring warmth and affection, for which the family is most grateful.
A Memorial Mass will be held at 12:30 Friday afternoon, October 27, 2017, at St. Peter’s Historical Catholic Church – Carteret Street, Beaufort. Burial will follow at 2 o’clock Friday afternoon at Beaufort National Cemetery, with Air Force Honors.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be sent to National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force – Post Office Box 1992, Savannah, Georgia 31402.