Page 9 - DFCS News Magazine Winter 2014
P. 9

livered, it was the first time he was authorized by the military to wear the decoration.
“Mr. Murphy is so deserving of this long-awaited distinction. He is a true hero and we’re humbled that he calls Ameri- can House home,” said Rob Gillette, chief operating officer of American House, where Murphy lives. “We’re humbled to have a hero of Mr. Murphy’s caliber at one of our communi- ties.”
Instrumental in helping Mur- phy through the official medal- review process were American House team members Angie Kadowaki and Anne Tomlin- son, who both work at the complex where Murphy lives. The women also help arrange for and transport Murphy to visits at area schools and other venues, where he frequently shares some of his experiences. He delights in telling students about the B-17 he flew aboard, which he helped name: the “Big Gas Bird.”
“I always tell them – its three separate words and don’t say it fast,” Murphy said with a grin.
Murphy’s sense of humor quickly endeared him to the American House staff.
“Not only is he an American hero, but Mr. Murphy is just a joy to be around,” said Ka- dowaki.
Kadowaki and Tomlinson eventually came in contact with Randy Talbot, the com- mand historian for the U.S. Army’s Detroit Arsenal in War- ren, Mich. Talbot aided with
Sgt. Alfred P. Murphy cont’d
the medal-request process and made what turned out to be a critical suggestion.
“The criteria for various awards have not only changed over the years, but during World War II, the crite- ria for the Distinguished Fly- ing Cross changed at several points in the war and also var- ied by type of aircraft and even among the different squadrons and groups flying the same aircraft. The request we made for Mr. Murphy was to have his records reviewed based on the criteria in place at the time he served with the 322nd,” Talbot said.
Talbot then reached out to the 127th Wing of the Michi- gan Air National Guard for assistance in presenting the award. Sheridan, the wing’s commander, has served as a fighter aircraft pilot for most of his career, but also spent about a year as a pilot of the B -1 Lancer, a modern bomber aircraft.
“Based on the nature of this award, it was most appropri- ate for a senior Air Force of- ficer to award it to Mr. Mur- phy,” Talbot said.
The Distinguished Flying Cross is awarded to Individuals who distinguish
slightly delayed the 322nd, leav- ing them somewhat behind the rest of the formation that day.
“Wagner, our tail gunner called up to the pilot, and he reports 30 German fighters queuing up behind us, getting ready to at- tack. And 30 more queuing be- hind them. And behind that, he says, just a bunch more milling around,” Murphy said.
The 322nd lost half of its Airmen that day – six of the 12 B-17s and crews that took off that morning did not return home. Of the 36 B-17s from the 91st Bomb Group in that mission, a total of 13 did not return.
Still, even after surviving that sort of attack, Murphy said his crew somehow soldiered on. Always focused on doing their duty. For their flag and for each other.
“We never aborted and we nev- er turned back. Not on a single mission,” Murphy reports.
When his 9-man crew rotated home, the crew’s pilot, Capt. Mil- zia Ellis, stated that he was go- ing to recommend each mem- ber of the crew for the DFC. Ap- parently, that either never hap- pened or the paperwork was lost during the war.
In early 2012, encouraged by family and friends, Murphy, who was also awarded seven Air Medals and various other deco- rations, formally requested his record to be reviewed. Murphy’s 2014 awarding of the DFC is not a case of a medal just never de-

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