Monday, September 15, 2008

Raymond G. Murphy

Awarded the Medal of Honor

The VA Medical Center in Albuquerque, New Mexicoa was recently renamed the Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center into United States and New Mexico history. The heroic actions of a young Marine on a battlefield in Korea and his subsequent exemplary career in the service of veterans has culminated in the rededication of the Albuquerque VA Medical Center as the Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center.

Raymond G. Murphy was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for heroism in Korea. He was decorated by President Eisenhower in a White House ceremony on October 27, 1953. In addition to the Medal of Honor, Captain Murphy was awarded the Silver Star, Purple Heart, Korean Service, 2 Bronze Stars, the United Nations Service and the National Defense Service Medals.

Following his service in the Marines, Mr. Murphy moved to New Mexico where he began work with the Albuquerque VA Regional Office. He served for 20 years and became the Chief of Veterans Services. Following retirement, Murphy became a NMVAHCS volunteer and served as an escort and at the information desk of the Albuquerque VA Medical Center. Many veterans never knew that the volunteer pushing his or her wheelchair was a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor. Captain Murphy passed away on April 6, 2007 and was buried not in his military uniform, but in his NMVAHCS Volunteer smock.

Legislation to rename the Albuquerque VA Medical Center was co-sponsored by Senators Pete Domenici and Jeff Bingaman in January 2007 and was strongly supported by the various veteran organizations and the New Mexico State Department of Veterans Affairs. U.S. Representatives Tom Udall, Heather Wilson and Steve Pearce championed the companion bill in the House of Representatives. President George W. Bush signed the legislation on July 5, 2007.

The rededication/renaming ceremony took place on a perfect sunny morning in the courtyard of the medical center campus. The drive leading to the event was lined with American flags and approximately 600 guests were in attendance. The Master of Ceremonies was George Marnell, Director of the NMVAHCS. Speakers included Ross Perot, members of the Congressional delegation, the State Veterans Services Secretary, Mary Ann and Tim Murphy, Susan P. Bowers, Network Director, VA Southwest Health Care Network, Louise Van Diepen, MS, Chief of Staff, Veterans Health Administration, and Alfonso R. Batres, PhD, MSSW, Chief Officer, Readjustment Counseling Service, VHA.

Following the ceremony, a statue in Mr. Murphy’s likeness was unveiled by sculptor, Reynaldo Rivera. Mr. Rivera was commissioned to sculpt the Raymond G. Murphy by the Ross Perot Foundation.

Medal of Honor citation
The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a Platoon Commander of Company A, First Battalion, Fifth Marines, First Marine Division (Reinforced), in action against enemy aggressor forces in Korea on 3 February 1953. Although painfully wounded by fragments from an enemy mortar shell while leading his evacuation platoon in support of assault units attacking a cleverly concealed and well-entrenched hostile force occupying commanding ground, Second Lieutenant Murphy steadfastly refused medical aid and continued to lead his men up a hill through a withering barrage of hostile mortar and small-arms fire, skillfully maneuvering his force from one position to the next and shouting words of encouragement. Undeterred by the increasing intense enemy fire, he immediately located casualties as they fell and made several trips up and down the fire-swept hill to direct evacuation teams to the wounded, personally carrying many of the stricken Marines to safety. When reinforcements were needed by the assaulting elements, Second Lieutenant Murphy employed part of his Unit as support and, during the ensuing battle, personally killed two of the enemy with his pistol. When all the wounded evacuated and the assaulting units beginning to disengage, he remained behind with a carbine to cover the movement of friendly forces off the hill and, though suffering intense pain from his previous wounds, seized an automatic rifle to provide more firepower when the enemy reappeared in the trenches. After reaching the base of the hill, he organized a search party and again ascended the slope for a final check on missing Marines, locating and carrying the bodies of a machine-gun crew back down the hill. Wounded a second time while conducting the entire force to the line of departure through a continuing barrage of enemy small-arms, artillery and mortar fire, he again refused medical assistance until assured that every one of his men, including all casualties, had preceded him to the main lines. His resolute and inspiring leadership, exceptional fortitude and great personal valor reflect the highest credit upon Second Lieutenant Murphy and enhance the finest traditions of the United States Naval Service.