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Mystery USNR Distinguished Flying Cross?


StrongRaven97
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StrongRaven97

Hello all,

 

This has been a project of mine for the past year and I've reached a dead-end and hope maybe someone here may have some ideas. I have been helping clean out my grandparent's estate and came across this Distinguished Flying Cross medal and citation (For context my grandfather was a collector). I immediately checked my family tree and found no matching name to the one listed, and at the time thought perhaps being a hobby genealogist I could locate the family of the recipient. Fast forward a year I have been unsuccessful in finding any matches or leads, and while there were several matching names in the National Archives and military rosters, none matched both name, rank and service. (It doesn't help that the name is fairly common as well...)

 

Examining the citation more closely has me now wondering if this was some kind of draft/place holder citation as I find it odd that it mentions no date awarded, no date of the actual incident prompting the medal, and no name of the ships involved. The case, medal, and citation paper all seem to be period correct though now that my grandfather has passed I can't ask him for any more details sadly. The backside of the medal is blank, I do not see any visible markings on it or the case.

 

Any ideas, answers, etc. would be greatly appreciated! I can take more photos too if needed. Thanks!

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StrongRaven97
35 minutes ago, USMCR79 said:

 

I'd say that certainly fits the bill for when this supposed medal incident would have taken place! From the other examples of citations for the award I saw all named more details including ships and dates, very strange this one does not...

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1 hour ago, StrongRaven97 said:

 

I'd say that certainly fits the bill for when this supposed medal incident would have taken place! From the other examples of citations for the award I saw all named more details including ships and dates, very strange this one does not...

Probably censored?  Note that it says “non-classified citation”.

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This is what I have on him

John William Murphy (084235)

1/6/1941 - ENS, USNR AV(N); Date of rank from 1 Jul 1941 USNR Register

1/11/1941 - ENS, USNR AV(N); NAS Pensacola FL Designated Naval Aviator # 7025

3/23/1941 - ENS, USNR AV(N); NAS Pensacola FL in 1 Apr 1941 USN Active Duty Directory

6/15/1942 - LTJG, USNR AV(N); Date of rank from 1 Jan 1943 USNR Register

5/1/1943 - LT, USNR AV(N); Date of rank from 1 Jul 1944 USNR Register

6/17/1944 - LT, USNR AV(N); VC-3 USS Kalinin Bay (CVE-68) FM-2 water landing recovd

10/25/1944 - LT, USNR A1; VC-3 USS Kalinin Bay (CVE-68) MIA later recovd

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From VC-3 Aircraft Action Report for 25 October 1944:

 

“. . . Realizing the need for immediate action, Lt. Murphy led his five plane division of fighters on the Japanese CA’s who were closest to our own forces.  They made repeated and determined strafing runs in the face of extremely heavy AA fire from the enemy ships.  At the time these fighters hit the enemy, the enemy ships had not been under fire from any other aircraft.

 

“Lt. Murphy led his planes in a strafing attack on a Kongo BB and after recovering from this attack attacked the two Japanese CA’s closest to our own forces.  The strafing attack on the cruisers was started at 10,000 feet, firing from 600 feet on down.  Steep strafing dives were employed – estimated 65%.  All of the fighters followed Lt. Murphy down and there was no question but their .50 cal. Was very effective, for after the second strafing run om the cruisers, they started to zig-zag.  Lt. Murphy did not permit his division to join up as the AA was so intense, single planes would have a better chance.

 

“At the conclusion of the third run, about ten friendly fighters were observed attacking the cruisers.  Our planes made three more runs on the leading cruiser and after Lt. Murphy had expended all his ammo, he tried to locate the rest of his division, but this was impossible at this time as the air was filled with FM-2’s and TBM-1C’s making runs on the enemy fleet units.

 

“Having been ordered to Tacloban to rearm and refuel Lt. Murphy with Ens. Goodman proceeded.  Lt. Murphy and Ens. Goodman landed safely, but due to the crowded condition of the field it was impossible to take off until later in the afternoon.”

 

The MIA status was because they did not know where he was after landing at Tacloban

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StrongRaven97
1 hour ago, R Leonard said:

From VC-3 Aircraft Action Report for 25 October 1944:

 

“. . . Realizing the need for immediate action, Lt. Murphy led his five plane division of fighters on the Japanese CA’s who were closest to our own forces.  They made repeated and determined strafing runs in the face of extremely heavy AA fire from the enemy ships.  At the time these fighters hit the enemy, the enemy ships had not been under fire from any other aircraft.

 

“Lt. Murphy led his planes in a strafing attack on a Kongo BB and after recovering from this attack attacked the two Japanese CA’s closest to our own forces.  The strafing attack on the cruisers was started at 10,000 feet, firing from 600 feet on down.  Steep strafing dives were employed – estimated 65%.  All of the fighters followed Lt. Murphy down and there was no question but their .50 cal. Was very effective, for after the second strafing run om the cruisers, they started to zig-zag.  Lt. Murphy did not permit his division to join up as the AA was so intense, single planes would have a better chance.

 

“At the conclusion of the third run, about ten friendly fighters were observed attacking the cruisers.  Our planes made three more runs on the leading cruiser and after Lt. Murphy had expended all his ammo, he tried to locate the rest of his division, but this was impossible at this time as the air was filled with FM-2’s and TBM-1C’s making runs on the enemy fleet units.

 

“Having been ordered to Tacloban to rearm and refuel Lt. Murphy with Ens. Goodman proceeded.  Lt. Murphy and Ens. Goodman landed safely, but due to the crowded condition of the field it was impossible to take off until later in the afternoon.”

 

The MIA status was because they did not know where he was after landing at Tacloban

 

Well I'll be! I never in a million years would have guessed that the full citation was out there since everyone I spoke to simply said those citations were never really organized and were presumed lost. Am I reading that correctly that he likely survived the war or at the very least this incident? This may be the very break I need to track down any of his surviving family if he had any.

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StrongRaven97
20 hours ago, USMCR79 said:

 

Amazing! I should be able to use that to track down maybe any surviving family that's still in the area, wish I knew how the heck the medal made its way to Minnesota... thanks a ton!

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dhcoleterracina

Could we see a picture of the back of the medal including the pin? The box looks like a very early type.  Thanks

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Airborne-Hunter
32 minutes ago, dhcoleterracina said:

Could we see a picture of the back of the medal including the pin? The box looks like a very early type.  Thanks

 

This is the earlier Navy (USMC as well?) Type box for the DFC and tough to find at that. This medal will be a full wrap brooch.

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That citation is an early “non censored” or “ non classified” version which was allowed to be sent home.  
 

There are also temporary, and permanent citations. The permanent citations are the ones signed by the SECNAV generally issued after the war.

 

The DFC box is the earliest style used by the USN in WWII. The DFCs awarded for Coral Sea and Midway are often in those boxes.

 

Kurt

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StrongRaven97
14 hours ago, KASTAUFFER said:

That citation is an early “non censored” or “ non classified” version which was allowed to be sent home.  
 

There are also temporary, and permanent citations. The permanent citations are the ones signed by the SECNAV generally issued after the war.

 

The DFC box is the earliest style used by the USN in WWII. The DFCs awarded for Coral Sea and Midway are often in those boxes.

 

Kurt

 

That's great to know! I was wondering why the box didn't look like some of the others I saw online but that explains it!

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This is a scan of a page from "The Flight Jacket" from 1941, showing aviation cadets from Pensacola. 

 

FlightJacket1941Murphy.jpeg.7e79d937a82b78f4acaa27eda72c45e2.jpeg

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StrongRaven97
45 minutes ago, VB21 said:

This is a scan of a page from "The Flight Jacket" from 1941, showing aviation cadets from Pensacola. 

 

FlightJacket1941Murphy.jpeg.7e79d937a82b78f4acaa27eda72c45e2.jpeg

 

That's super cool! I managed to find his gravesite and possibly 2 living relatives still in the area however no luck in getting ahold of them yet. A shame he and his wife had no children for me to pass the medal onto...

 

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I realize that you are interested in reaching out to find a family member who might be interested in the medal's return, but I would submit to you that with the veteran having no children, somebody already went through the family's effects and opted to dispose of the medal and other property that they were not interested in keeping.

 

I would submit that you will find a number of members of this forum who would be quite interested in purchasing the medal and that any one of us would probably do a much better job of preserving the memory of the man who earned it that for it to go to a shirttail relation who would most likely put it away, or sell it off once they figured out that there was a value to the medal.

 

What you want to do, is in line with what we all want to do here, ensure that the veteran's service and valor are remembered and honored.

 

Allan

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StrongRaven97
4 hours ago, Allan H. said:

I realize that you are interested in reaching out to find a family member who might be interested in the medal's return, but I would submit to you that with the veteran having no children, somebody already went through the family's effects and opted to dispose of the medal and other property that they were not interested in keeping.

 

I would submit that you will find a number of members of this forum who would be quite interested in purchasing the medal and that any one of us would probably do a much better job of preserving the memory of the man who earned it that for it to go to a shirttail relation who would most likely put it away, or sell it off once they figured out that there was a value to the medal.

 

What you want to do, is in line with what we all want to do here, ensure that the veteran's service and valor are remembered and honored.

 

Allan

 

I'm hoping to save that as a last resort if it comes to that, though I know it'll weigh on my conscious if I don't at least make a whole hearted effort to contact the family. If I were in PA and figured maybe someone from the family had already had it before selling it off I would be much more open to the idea however since I haven't any idea how it made its way to MN where its been sitting the past 40+ years makes me wonder if it was a mistake somehow though I suppose we'll see!

 

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Kurt Barickman
4 hours ago, Allan H. said:

I realize that you are interested in reaching out to find a family member who might be interested in the medal's return, but I would submit to you that with the veteran having no children, somebody already went through the family's effects and opted to dispose of the medal and other property that they were not interested in keeping.

 

I would submit that you will find a number of members of this forum who would be quite interested in purchasing the medal and that any one of us would probably do a much better job of preserving the memory of the man who earned it that for it to go to a shirttail relation who would most likely put it away, or sell it off once they figured out that there was a value to the medal.

 

What you want to do, is in line with what we all want to do here, ensure that the veteran's service and valor are remembered and honored.

 

Allan

Allan is correct on all accounts...I live in MN but don't collect USN aviation medals.

 

Kurt

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Brian Dentino

I would also agree with Allan.  Take it from someone (myself) who long ago thought that your course of action was the right approach only to open a whole can of headaches.  Family members, long removed from those we honor with such items, often can become quite obtuse and downright rude when they learn that something (maybe they never knew existed) was out there in someone else's hands.  I would say better leave that sleeping dog lie than kick it and expect a pleasant response.  Only once in all my collecting did I actually return an item, and it was a Bible to the daughter of a soldier who had a "messy" life after the war.  It was all she had and it was cheap, so I returned it free of charge.  If you do get a hold of the family and they express interest find out the value of the medal (not insignificant) and offer to sell it back to them.  If they are truly interested they will come up with the cash, but this is yours to do with what you want so I wish you luck with whatever you decide to do.

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