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William  J.  Murphy, Jr.

 

Personal Legacy
WILLIAM J. MURPHY
World War II
Memories and Biography

(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)

January 2, 1989

Dear Will:

Thank you for your letter of 17 December. Great! Just great! Hearing from a member of the 44th Bomb Group (H). And thanks to Ed Kota, my old Gowanda, New York friend for passing my address onto you.

I remember Walt Hazelton [66th Sq.] and Billy Coll of PA - and Walter Patrick, among others who did Cairo. The Holy Land, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem et al, following our low-ball attack on the Ploesti oil fields, Romania, 1 August 1943.

Initially, Will, in 1941, I was assigned to the 66th bomb squadron at Barksdale, AAF, LA, as Captain Bob Miller's flight engineer, top turret gunner. We eventually ended up with B-24D No. 811 "Fascinatin' Witch" . . . a terrible artist's rendition of a nude woman riding a bomb . . . her left breast apparently couldn't stand the slipstream as it pointed upward 90 degrees perpendicular from the rest of her anatomy - it was awful!

We did our overseas training (OUT) at Will Rogers Field, Oklahoma City - flew to Manchester N.H. (Poe) and then to Prestwich, Scotland - Cheddigton England and finally Shipdham (September 1942).

As you know, Will, our losses during that early period were horrendous. After a total of eight B-24D's - representing the 44th, bombed the St. Mazaire sub-pens, five of us made it back to Hooaford-West, Wales - we regrouped shortly thereafter and flew to Benina, Bughazi Libya in Africa.

I was one of the luck ones to get through it all. After Ploesti, in fact, we were in Tel Aviv at the time, I received orders to return to the U.S. via my home base, Shipdham. Returned in September 1943 sailing from Liverpool on the Mauritania.

Entered pilot training, graduated in 1945. Flew fighters in Korea 1950-51 and in Vietnam 1968-69. Retired from the USAF as a colonel in February 1973 - accepted a job with Northrop in flight test at Palmdale and Edmonds. Presently head up a quality technology department at Northrop's Hawthorne facility, for military and commercial AC production.

Married, three kids, seven grandchildren. I have indeed been very lucky, Will. Praise the Lord.

Best regards and thanks again.
Bill Murphy Home phone: 213-644-1697; office 213-332-5773.





WILLIAM J. MURPHY
World War II
Memories and Biography

(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)

1 May 1989

13300 Doty Ave.
Hawthorne, CA 90250
(310)644-1697

Dear Will:

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your persistent effort - and expertise in bringing us "old" 44th Bomb Groupers together.

Max Stiefel, San Clemente, CA, contacted me and provided a first-hand account of how that gallant old B-24D No. 811, "Fascinatin' Witch," gave her last over Austria. Max miraculously escaped the exploding aircraft, and parachuted into Stalag Luft III.

Adam "Waag" Wygonik, Wheaton, Ill., 66 Squadron, wrote renewing our bond of early 1942 - and not of Kiel, Germany, FW 190s, ME109s, and flak aplenty!

Danny Rowland, Alliance, Ohio, 66 Squadron, telephoned to advise that I could have been a little faster in shutting No. 4 engine down, which was on fire, over Ploesti - I countered that of a microsecond wasn't that bad! Sonny nearly lost his leg, say nothing of his life, on his 25th mission, on 1 August 1943 low-level attack over Ploesti. With Heinkels' boring in guns blazing at 500' altitude, holes throughout the fuselage, the vertical tail plane nearly shot off, No. 4 engine on fire, smoke and flames and blood everywhere - Donny reached out to me - and that's another story...

"Waag" Wygonik came face to face with the Luftwaffe fighter force over Kiel, Germany. After several frontal attacks by the Nazi fighters, Brandon's plane started to fall back. When he came alongside, immediately off our right wing - "My Jesus," I thought! They had taken a direct 20 or 37mm hit - in the top turret - "Oh, Jesus, my prayer," Waag was gone... ( I did a lot of praying when engaging the goddamn enemy!) But not so .. we later discovered Waag can tell you how to bail out of a B24 with only one of his main harness lanyards attached. I don't believe that anyone parachutist is doing that in the world today. A prisoner exchange - the Gipsholm Swedish liner - Phoenixville, PA hospitalization - 47 years later ... they're still taking flak/shrapnel from Waag's body.

It is indeed gratifying to know that Waag, Donny, and Max made it and are with us today.

Will, you have given me a new challenge...getting in touch with the remaining "other" 66-squadron/44th Group warriors. I see the Fighting 44th Logbook as reinforcing values - shared by post and present courageous, dedicated people. It's really about people who have --- and would have --- made the supreme sacrifice --- for their country.

Thanks again, Will.

Sincerely,

Bill Murphy
 
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