ROBERT L MURPHY - SP4
- old bridge
- DATE OF BIRTH:
- August 10, 1946
- DATE OF CASUALTY:
- May 22, 1967
- BRANCH OF SERVICE:
- South Vietnam
Robert L. Murphy was born on August 10, 1946, to James and Alelaide Murphy. His home of record is Old Bridge, NJ. He had one brother, James. Robert graduated from Madison Township High School in 1964. He enjoyed playing pool.
Robert entered the US Army where he attained the rank of Specialist 4 (SP4). He served with the 1st Battalion, 35th Infantry, 3rd Division, 25th Infantry Division.
On May 22, 1967, at the age of 20, SP4 Murphy was killed in action in South Vietnam. He is buried in Chestnut Hill Cemetery, Old Bridge, NJ.
Murphy was awarded the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star and the Military Merit and Gallantry Cross w/Palm.
Robert L. Murphy was known to all as Bob. He was born in New Brunswick, NJ, on August 10, 1946, to Mr. and Mrs. James Joseph Murphy of 224 Green Street in Old Bridge. As a young boy, Bob went to Willis School in Old Bridge where he graduated from 8th grade. Then he went to Madison Township High School. After high school, he became an ironworker with Local 399 of Camden, NJ.
Then, at age 19, he was drafted into the army. He went to jump school and then Vietnam in January 1966. He was an SP4, 1st Battalion, 35th Infantry, 3rd BDE, 25th Infantry Division.
In July 1966, he received the Bronze Star for heroism when his company of the 35th Infantry Division came under intense enemy automatic weapon fire and its commanding officer was wounded. SP4 Murphy laid down a protective base of fire and with only a small mound of dirt for cover, he continued to fire his grenade launcher. He was fatally wounded when he turned to go to the commander on May 22, 1966. His body was shipped home to be buried in Chestnut Hill Cemetery in Old Bridge, NJ.
Written by James and Lorraine Murphy,
Brother and sister-in-law
The following is an excerpt from an article that appeared in the Sentinel on July 12, 2007:
It's been more than four decades, but women still smile when they remember how handsome he was.
Robert L. Murphy, who grew up in Old Bridge and went off to fight in Vietnam, never to return, was honored by his family, friends and local dignitaries and veterans last week during a Fourth of July ceremony at VFW Post 9468, which is on land where Murphy played as a child.
Murphy joined the U.S. Army when he was 19 years old and was a specialist in the Airborne division, according to his nephew, Joseph Murphy.
"He was a hero," said his sister-in-law, Lorraine Murphy. "He was caught in a crossfire and died protecting his commanding officer. He earned a Purple Heart."
In honor of his heroism, the VFW post, located off Englishtown Road, dedicated the road leading up to the post as "Robert Murphy Way."
Bobby, as he was known, came from a close-knit clan. There were only a few houses on Green Street in Old Bridge when he was growing up and most of them belonged to his relatives. His four cousins in the Butcher family, Velma, Patty, Lucille and Ruth Ann, lived next door.
Three of his sisters were able to make last week's dedication. They fondly recalled the young man who had eyes like Elvis, and the days when they all attended a small two-room school called Brunswick Gardens No. 1 and went to a little store nicknamed Fry's (Fryzowicz) for soda and candy. All three sisters agreed he could have had any girl he wanted, and laughed about how careful he was with his clothes and hair.
"He used to wear a cashmere jacket and wing-tip shoes," said Ruth Ann Fuchsloch, now of Monroe.
While the women might remember his good looks, his nephews remember something else.
"He was so cool. It was like having the Fonz for an uncle," Jim Murphy said.
"He was the bachelor with the MG," Joseph Murphy said.
Bobby would pick blackberries for his mother and play with his friends and cousins in the fields behind the VFW.
"One day I fell into the creek back there," said Patty Quinlan, of Old Bridge. "I was around 5 years old. I just remember tumbling over and over. Bobby pulled me out. He saved my life."
She admits to what would seem to be a well-deserved case of hero worship for Bobby, who was seven years her senior.
"He was my favorite cousin. I just wanted to hang out with him," she said. "I would watch him lift weights, and when he'd ask me to get him something to drink I would run to Fry's and bring him back a grape soda."
Velma Witkowski, also now of Monroe, described Murphy "like a brother" to all his cousins, and recalled attending his graduation at Fort Dix and how proud the family was of him.
Tears filled her eyes as she recalled the family receiving news of his death in 1965.
"He died 30 days before he was due to come home. We were all waiting for him. Then we got the news," she said.
Patty Quinlan recalled being in seventh grade and was walking home from school when she saw the Army vehicle in front of her aunt's house, and two soldiers walking from the front step. She knew immediately what had happened.
"His mother, Adelaide, never really accepted it," said Witkowski. "She kept saying it was a mistake, that he would be coming home, that he was really a POW or MIA."
Adelaide died a few years later, as did Bobby's father, Jim, she said.
"I think they were just devastated," Witkowski said.
VFW Post Commander Al Freed learned about Bobby from his friend, Jim Leslie, who joined the Marines at the same time Bobby joined the Army.
"I was touched by the story and the fact that this young man had lived so close by and had played in these fields," Freed said. "That's when I decided we should name the road after him. Everyone agreed."
Freed got in touch with the Murphy family, though sadly Jim Murphy, Bobby's only brother, died last year.
"We have Bobby's medals hanging on the wall in our home," said Lorraine Murphy. "We decided to donate them to the VFW post."
"He was such a wonderful guy and it's been so long since he died. It's wonderful to know he's not forgotten," Witkowski said.
"We really appreciate this. He was such a great kid and we lost him way too young," Lorraine Murphy said.
Freed said Bobby's name "will always be shining above us."
"We will never forget him or the others who have sacrificed so much for our country," he said.
Sources: James Murphy (brother), Velma Witkowski (sister) and NJVVMF.
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