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Raymond G. Murphy Department Of Veterans Affairs Medical Center

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC



Mrs. WILSON of New Mexico. Mr. Speaker, in January of this year, I introduced the companion to the Senate measure that we're considering today, and I wanted to thank both my colleagues from New Mexico, Mr. Pearce and Mr. Udall, for their support of that legislation.

I'm very happy today that the House is taking up the Senate version of this bill, which is supported both by Senator Bingaman and by Senator Domenici. I am also very pleased that the governor of New Mexico, Governor Richardson, and a wide variety of veterans' organizations in New Mexico, have supported this legislation.

Jerry Murphy passed away on April of this year, on Good Friday. He was a hero in Korea, as my colleagues have pointed out, but it's the way he chose to spend the rest of his life that makes him so special to New Mexico's veterans. He was a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps Reserves. He volunteered to go into the Marine Corps when it looked as though he was going to be drafted and sent to Korea in the Army and he thought the Marine Corps might suit him better. In 1952, he commanded an infantry platoon in the Fifth Marines in Seoul, Korea, and was a recipient of the Silver Star.

In February of 1953, he positioned his unit about the Imjin River facing the Chinese Communist troops. Their job was to continually push the Chinese lines to keep them from getting too dug in. He was commanding the reserve platoon, and as the battle went on and he sensed that the operation was not being executed as planned because there were no wounded coming back to the lines, he decided he had to go forward and find out what was going on. When he took his platoon forward, he found that all the officers and the noncommissioned officers of the two assault platoons were dead or wounded, and there was mass confusion among the troops.

He very quickly took command, and in the midst of machine gun fire, he ordered his men to find their comrades and evacuate the area. He made several trips in the midst of heavy gunfire to rescue casualties. At one point, he was helping to lift a stretcher and he was hit in the back by the fragments of an enemy grenade. He refused medical attention and continued to lead his men to rescue their wounded comrades.

As he continued to command his reserves, he came face to face with two Chinese soldiers, and he killed them both. The Chinese entered the trenches as the last American wounded troops were being evacuated. Jerry Murphy picked up an automatic rifle and held off the Chinese Communist forces until all of the marines were safe.

He then went and counted all his marines. He noticed he had a handful still missing, and he went back to the top of the hill with a search team. He located the bodies of a machine gun crew and took them down the hill.

At this point, he was wounded a second time. He again refused medical treatment until all his men had preceded him into the main line. He eventually received treatment and returned to America.

In October, 1953, when he was in graduate school, Jerry Murphy was awarded the Medal of Honor. It was presented to him by President Eisenhower on October 27, 1953.

For more than 20 years after Jerry Murphy left the service, he dedicated his life to serving New Mexico veterans. He served at the VA hospital as Director for Veterans Services. For 23 years, he provided lots of support to all kinds of veterans in New Mexico. The neat thing is that even after he retired from the VA, he continued to volunteer at the VA hospital.

One of the VA hospital employees once told me that Jerry Murphy was a volunteer; he had his turquoise smock on, and he would push veterans to and from their appointments at the VA hospital. The veterans had no idea who it was that was pushing them around in their wheelchairs. He was always a humble servant. That is the kind of man he was: A quiet, humble servant, soft-spoken, a modest man who was concerned with his fellow soldiers. His humility really never ended. You know, if you think about this guy, he was a Marine, a Medal of Honor winner, and he chose to be put to rest wearing his VA volunteer smock. He will be missed by his family and his wife, Mary Ann.

I want to commend Senators DOMENICI and BINGAMAN for sponsoring this legislation and ushering it through the Senate; my colleagues, Mr. Pearce and Mr. Udall, for cosponsoring the House version of the bill; Secretary John Garcia of New Mexico for first suggesting to all of us that it might be appropriate to name the VA medical center after Jerry; the chairman and ranking member of the Veterans Affairs Committee, Mr. Buyer and Mr. Filner, for their leadership and willingness to bring this legislation forward.

Mr. Speaker, I urge passage of this bill.


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