Rank SGT E-5
Vietnam TAOR (Tactical Area of Responsibility) 50 to 75 mile radius around Saigon, South Vietnam. The city of Saigon no longer exists. Its name Saigon was removed and renamed Ho Chi Minh City.
Medals and Decorations - Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign, National Defense, Parachute Badge, Distinguished Unit Citation, Presidential Unit Citation, The Bronze Star.
MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) - 31-M4P - High Frequency Radio Operator teletype/crypto
Duties - Maintained communications between combat field units and rear command Eschilon, which consisted of three areas, A, B, and C, which were forward field units that needed to receive communications from the main control center. It required knowledge of all military radios, telephones, land line equipment, UHF, VHF from the main carrier back to the outer bases. The sergeant rank maintained the main carrier between the A,B, C communication sites.
Main carrier - Two and a half vehicles, which had the capability of being moved to an area where the HQ (1st Signal Command) was given the opportunity to contact field combat units via radio, UHF (ultra high frequency, and VHF, (very high frequency) and also land lines (telephones ran by wire).
Married: Deborah (Giambra) Murphy on Nov. 25, 1971 at Debbie's parents house on Wilson Avenue.
Children: Michael and Shane
Grandchildren: Shane Noah Murphy and Ciara Madison Murphy.
Tom Murphy was born on Nov. 23, 1946 at 9:43 a.m. in Philadelphia, Pa. He is the son of James E. Murphy and Margaret Mary (Dunn) Murphy. As a child, Tom was raised on the Jersey Shore, so water sports were his favorite. This included fishing and water skiing. Tom attended St. Catherine's Grammar School in Elizabeth, N.Y. High school came and Tom attended Hillside High, in Hillside, N.J. Murphy excelled in track.
As a child, Murphy loved to explore, whenever the time came, the woods, old houses and abandoned buildings. He loved jumping trains as a child. He recalls one day jumping a train in Hillside and as the train picked up speed, was unable to get off. He traveled 300 miles from Hillside, where the train finally slowed down for its first time since Tom jumped it.
Murphy finally got to see Grafton, W.Va., where he talked to his father on the phone. He explained what he just did and asked his dad to wire him money for a ticket back to Hillside. Along with jumping trains, he did a lot of traveling with his good friend Winferd Raynor Klusener "Winnie." They would travel from city to city for fun and adventures. Later they decided to join the Army together.
However, Klusener and Murphy decided to do one more cross country trip, cause they weren't ready to put on a pair of Army boots yet. The two men set off for southern California, with just a few dollars in their pocket and a car. The plan was to go to each town that had a Holiday Inn and when they ran short of money or gas they would ask to work for a room for night, food or cash for gas in their car. They ended up cleaning garbage cans, defrosting freezers, and a lot of kitchen work, only now and then would they come across a Holiday Inn that wouldn't go for the deal.
They arrived in San Francisco 16 days later, sleeping in an area across from Candlestick Park. It was the coldest day recorded in history for California, according to Murphy's recollection.
In February 1966 Murphy and Klusener enlisted in the Newark Induction Station together. They stayed together and went to Fort Dix, N.J., for six weeks of boot camp training. The next station was Fort Gordon, Ga., for advanced infantry training, which was another six weeks.
This training included firing an M-16, M-79 grenade launcher, the .50- and .60-caliber machine gun, land mines, and the famous New Claymor mine. He was also given a one-week course on Vietnamese culture. Murphy requested going into the airborne unit and was accepted. These new orders which came immediately sent Murphy to Fort Benning, Ga., where he began a new life of running and jumping out of airplanes.
In order to receive his wings and wear parachuter boots, he needed to successfully complete five jumps. The first two jumps were just parachute jumps with no equipment.
The Army called this the two Hollywood jumps. The next two jumps consisted of rifle, with full gear on. The fifth and last jump was a night jump. After completing his jumps, the soldier received his parachute pin and given the right to wear paratrooper boots, with his Class A uniform. Murphy recalled the feeling he got from his first jump as the "thrill of his life." He recalled at Benning, Ga., where he was new to jumping and the pilots were also new, they still took him up for jumps.
Murphy was assigned to the 82nd Airbourne Division with the 313th signal BN. While reporting to the 313th his name was one of the ten names called. He was given the chance to either go to helicopter mechanic school or high frequency school because of MOS -31M4P. He chose radio school. He was now heading to Fort Jackson, N.C., for 12 weeks of radio school. The most important classes were morse code, radio operator, and antenna theory. Then he was assigned to Fort Bragg awaiting orders to go to Southeast Asia. He took a plane to California where he connected with a U.S. Continental Airline, touching down in Ben Hao, South Vietnam. His assignment now 1st Infantry Division at Poi Loui as a 31M4P, with this critical MOS he was reassigned to the 199th Light Infantry Brigade in Saigon stationed near the Y Bridge. This was a bridge over the river that formed the letter Y. This was very important for U.S. supply routes to Saigon. Tom's duties were to shoot at the garbage as it floated down the river because the army feared the North Vietnamese would place explosives in the river to hit one of our bridges. Murphy sent 6 to eight hours a day, just firing at everything in the river with his M-14 or M-16.
His next assignment took him to A, B, C outer units to maintain the phone, generator,and teletype systems. After serving eight months in this country Murphy received his first rest and relaxation and headed to Sydney, Australia. The people here treated Americans great, remembering our help in World WarII. When Murphy returned he decided he was going to extend his tour in Vietnam another six months, which gave him a 30-day leave to come back home.
When he returned back home for days his family had a party for him and were all excited he arrived home safely. No one knew he was going to return to Vietnam for another six-month tour. He was afraid to tell his mother at the party because of the look in her eyes, she still feared him going into harm's way again. At the party, his family asked where he would be stationed next. Murphy said, "In the south." No one realized he meant South Vietnam. When the party ended no one knew that his mother had another six months of sleepless nights.
When Murphy arrived in Vietnam he became a Sgt. E-5. He was now qualified to run the Army's mainframe, which consisted of communicating between the main control center and the three outer fire bases. Fire bases were small field bases that housed six 8- inch howitzers and six 155 howitzers and all associated men to run these batteries
Thomas Murphy, service number RA 12751597, received a Bronze Star for meritorious achievement in ground operations against hostile forces. This was an honor that Murphy received after he returned home from Vietnam.
After serving his country he enrolled at Bloomsfield Community College, only lasting for three months. He couldn't put up with all the anti-war protesters, peace movements, and rallies taking place on the campus.
He decided to travel to Toronto, where he had a conversation with another American who offered him a job in a small town called Fredonia.
The American he talked to was Stanley Star. Murphy was given a job at the Fredonia Products Factory on Water Street. This was his first time in Fredonia. His job was working with Leonard Star on a concentrator which Stanley Star invented himself. Murphy met his wife Debbie while working here. Since he was an adventurous guy he wanted to propose to Debbie in a unique way. He called a local radio station WDOE and asked if he could propose to Debbie over the radio. He set up a time with the radio station to broadcast his proposal of love over the air. While at work, the two were listening to the radio and that's when Debbie heard Murphy's proposal and accepted.
The reason for this was that he was the radio man when he served in Vietnam and he knew that all radio waves are eternal. A radio wave never stops, it just continues into space forever and ever.
Murphy is a member of the Holy Trinity Parish and attends Mass daily. He and his wife Debbie love their home and love spending time there as well as traveling. A few years ago they lost their son. They couldn't express enough that the communities support helped them in their time of need. Murphy is semi-retired and works part-time at Home Depot. He loves spending time with his grandchildren.
Tom Murphy is the kind of person when you first meet becomes your friend. He is a very easy person to like. When you talk to Tom the very first time, it, to me, is like talking to one of my best friends I've had for years.
He was another military veteran who told me he hadn't done much to warrant a story. I know that receiving a Bronze Star means that you have had to do something. Murphy received the rank of sergeant by commanding a main carrier that supported three outer combat positions. If he lost that main carrier, it would cut off all communications that could disrupt all air support, all artillery incoming and outgoing. It would delay medivacs and could cause many friendly losses.
Murphy did his job and did it well. He returned home from war not even knowing where Dunkirk and Fredonia were located. Now he calls this place home. We as a community are privileged to have the Murphys in our community. If I meet Stanley Star I will personally thank him myself. He was the person who led Murphy here. Murphy loves his home, the community and his family. Debbie and Tom are wonderful people. Tom Murphy's story has to be told. That's why he is our hero of the week.