Corporal David Murphy
United States Marine Corps
Born: July 18, 1947 Died: April 23, 1968
Killed in Action
When you grow up in a family of ten siblings, eight brothers and two sisters, a young man might get lost, especially when he is one of the middle children. But David Murphy stood out and kept true to the lessons he was taught by his mother, father, and grandparents.
“David was a humble and strong person, who believed in doing the right thing,” younger brother Robert Scott Murphy shared. “David was honest, truthful and loved life itself,” Scott reminisced. “These were the lessons our mother and our father taught us. David never forgot these lessons.”
David Murphy was the seventh child of J.B. and Christine Reid Murphy. He had two older sisters; Gladys Murphy Freeman and Bernice Murphy Dozier; four older brothers, J.B. Murphy, Jr., Eddie Brice Murphy, Romeo Clark Murphy and Bobby Murphy. He also had three younger brothers; Harry Murphy, Robert Scott Murphy and Clinton Alonza Murphy. The family grew up in their home on Ella Street. Family still reside in the home to this day.
David used to keep his younger brothers in line. “David was fun loving, generous and compassionate.” Scott said. “He would baby sit us (his three younger brothers). I use to try and pick on David and got off on the sidelines once in a while, but David got me back on track real fast. He made us do our best, finish our homework and made us better men,” said Scott of his older brother. David even checked on his younger brothers at their school, making sure they were ok during the turbulent times of the mid 1960’s.
One of the things family members remember best about David is that he was a “dresser. David use to dress up like it was an art,” Scott “was so well dressed. His pants were tailored. He even wore a good looking dress jacket to school.”
David also use to enjoy sports; swimming, track and football. He kept himself in great shape. David was a star running back, then called half-back, when he was in high school. Legend Hiram Whitaker was his coach. Both David and his brothers set records which still stand today in both track and football while at Fairmont High School. David graduated from Fairmont in 1965 not only with athletic distinction but also academic excellence.
As well as being the sharp dresser, David also cared about his home. David was, “real good,” at landscaping the yard and keeping the grass cut and hedges trimmed, younger brother Scott related. “But that was just David. He was a caring person. All the time.” David was also very respectful of his friends and girlfriends. “He had a lot (of friends and girls),” Scott smiled. According to the younger brother, David always treated his friends “with great respect. You see David loved our mother and she expected nothing less from all of us than respect and our best.”
When David graduated from Fairmont in 1965, the Vietnam War was at its worst. Young men from communities all across America, were getting drafted daily. A national lottery was held to determine when a young man was going to be called into military service. Entry into the armed services was determined by your birthday. Even though he had entered college in North Carolina, David had a low “draft number” and expected to be called into service any day. David’s older brother, Bobby, was a Marine and had joined several years before. “I suppose that is why David joined the Marines rather than get drafted,” Scott said. “He didn’t let our parents know until after he had joined (the Marine Corps),” Scott related. “Dad cried because he knew as a Marine David was going to get sent to Vietnam.”
Older brother Bobby was already in Vietnam and rules of the military at the time were if one family member was in Vietnam, another would not be sent into action there. “(Early on in his military career) David got assigned all over Europe,” Scott said. “For four or five months he really got to see the world. And that was a good thing.” But as fate would have it, brother Bobby completed his tour and David took his place in the jungles of Vietnam.
Cpl. David Murphy was killed in action by mortar fire April 23, 1968. The 20 year old was two and a half months shy of his 21st birthday. Scott well remembers the day the family was notified. “Two Marines drove up (to the family home on Ella Street). We knew what was fixing to happen,” Scott said. “We (Scott, his brothers Harry and Clinton) ran up the stairs. Our mama looked out the door and screamed when she saw them (the Marines). It was a sad, sad day.”
David’s body was returned to Griffin several weeks later. His death was front page news in his hometown newspaper, the Griffin Daily News. Another local son of the Griffin-Spalding County community had been killed in action while serving his country. Full military honors were bestowed and a funeral was held at the family plot in the Westhaven section of the Griffin cemetery. “Our parents had bought this cemetery plot. David was the first (of the Murphy family) to be buried there,” Scott shared with tears in his eyes.
“You know, God, however, works in mysterious ways,” younger brother Scott said. Although only 20 years old when he died, David was wise beyond his years. “David loved his family. He had strong, strong family values,” Scott remembered. “He wanted more for us.. ..for his whole family.. ..much more. He was serious about this.”
The Murphy family has carried these values forward……love…..care for fellow man…..pride in self and community…..the value of service…..love of our country.
David Murphy, once a Marine… .always a Marine.
But we remember David Murphy as much more than a Marine.
For you see once a Murphy, always a Murphy.. ..a strong family filled with love…..care for our fellow man….pride in self…..love of the Griffin-Spalding County community.
Values that were taught by generations past.
Values that David Murphy believed in and shared with his family by example.
Values that last even to this day.
Yes. David Murphy would be proud….very proud…of the legacy he left behind.