Page 8 - DFCS News Magazine Winter 2014
P. 8

Air Force Awards Distinguished Flying Cross to Michigan WWII Veteran
By TSgt. Dan Heaton 127th Wing Public Affairs ROCHESTER HILLS, Mich.
On every mission, there were holes.
Thirty-five times, nine men went out on a bomber so big they called it the Fly- ing Fortress. Each and every time they came back in a
plane peppered with bullet holes. Sometimes, many times, the guys flying in the plane next to them didn’t come back at all.
On Monday, April 21, 2014 – more than 69 years after he flew his final mission – the U.S. Air Force presented former Tech- nical Sgt. Alfred P. Murphy with a Distinguished Flying Cross af- ter an official review determined that he earned the medal in World War II, while flying as a radio operator/mechanic/ gunner on a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber in Europe.
“It was only the skill and cour- age of the entire crew that al- lowed us to live through that,” said Murphy, now a few weeks shy of his 92nd birthday and liv- ing in retirement at an American House community in Rochester Hills, Mich. “No one man could have done that. You had to be a team.”
Through 35 missions, over a roughly 8-month period that be- gan in the summer of 1944 --
roughly from the Invasion of Normandy through the Battle of Bulge -- Murphy and his fel- low Airmen in the 322nd
Bomb Squadron survived anti- aircraft fire, repeated attacks by enemy fighters and – after eve- ry mission – they’d land back at their base in Bassingbourn, England, and shake their heads at the bullet holes in their planes. After every mission.
“The dedication and self- sacrifice of Airmen like Patrick Murphy set a standard of excel- lence for today’s Air Force,” said Col. Philip Sheridan, com- mander of the 127th Wing at Selfridge Air National Guard Base. Sheridan awarded the DFC medal to Murphy in a short ceremony at Murphy’s retirement community, April 21. “It was an honor not only to present this award to him, but also to shake his hand and say thank you for your service to our great nation.”
When Murphy and his crew first arrived for duty with the 322nd Bomb Squadron, 91st Bomb Group, 8th Air Force, for the war in Europe, the goal
was simple, he said.
“We weren’t trying to win med- als, none of that. It was do your job, look out for your crew and hope to hell you made it home alive,” Murphy recalls now. “When I first arrived, it was complete 25 missions and you could rotate home. Then Gen. Hap Arnold changed it to 30 missions. Then (Lt. Gen.) Jimmy Doolittle came in and made it 35 missions and you could go home. When the Battle of the Bulge started, the rumor was that we were going to be there until it was over. I thought, ‘These guys are trying to kill me.’ But 35 finally came and we got shipped back to the States.”
Murphy’s crew was among the 12 from the 322nd that flew Nov. 2, 1944, in an all-out ef- fort against industrial targets in Merseberg, Germany. It was, he says simply, his worst day of the war.
“It was our number one priority target my whole time over- seas,” Murphy recalled. “The closest thing I can compare it to is the Ford Rouge Plant (in Dearborn, Mich.). It was a mas- sive industrial complex that turned out something on the order of 15 percent of the Nazi war production. Detroit was the Arsenal of Democracy. Well, Merseberg was their arse- nal.”
During that mission, weather

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