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Legacy Of:

Bernard  J.  Murtaugh

 

Personal Legacy
BERNIE MURTAUGH
World War II
Memories and Biography

After the 492nd was disbanded we were sent to the 44th BG at Shipdham. On August 11, shortly after our arrival they celebrated their 200th mission. The beer was flowing freely and I witnessed some G.I.'s grabbing General Johnson and throwing him into the pond outside the Red Cross quarters.

I had read in a magazine after the war that General Johnson had retired as a four-star General and was living in McLean, Virginia. On returning from a trip to Disneyland, Florida, with my wife and six daughters sometime during the 1970s we came through McLean, Virginia and I stopped and found the General's name in the phone book and phoned him; my family did not know what I was doing. I got directions to his home and drove there, got out of the car and knocked on the door and the General, himself, answered the door. He still looked the same as I remembered him when he pinned the DFC on me.

He said, "Come right in." I told him I had my wife and six daughters with me and he said, "I insist you bring them in." I did and he called his wife down. At that time she was fighting cancer and I believed she died just a few months after our visit. He and she were the most gracious people I had ever met.

He brought out his Congressional Medal of Honor and made each girl wear it around her neck. They then showed us the gifts they had received from folks like Winston Churchill, the King and Queen of England and other notables. The girls just loved the General and his wife.

General Johnson talked to me about the groups I flew in under his command. He asked me if I was at the 44th BG 200th mission party and when I answered, "Yes," he asked if I was one of the guys who threw him in the pond. I said, "No, General, but I was a witness to it." He then said to his wife, "Bernie is the first member of the 44th who denies that he threw me in the pond." There were about six guys who actually threw him in the pond but literally hundreds have claimed to him to have done it. Wouldn't you just like to hear their combat stories?
 
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Last modified: 01/26/14