mcloudy.png
Thursday October 22nd, 2020 8:38AM

More than 70 years later, an unknown soldier comes home

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — Gerard Murphy never met his uncle Richard. But the Potomac, Maryland, native grew up hearing stories of the former journalist who enlisted in the Marines during World War II and disappeared during the June 15, 1944, amphibious assault on the Pacific island of Saipan.

"This was a mystery in our family for basically my entire life," said Gerard Murphy, a lawyer. "It's bad enough to lose someone in a war. Having them missing in action is an added burden and grief to carry."

That all changed in 2015, when Gerard Murphy was contacted by Ted Darcy, an independent researcher specializing in identifying World War II-era military remains. Darcy, a retired Marine gunnery sergeant, believed he had made a match between Richard Murphy's dental records and the remains of an unidentified Saipan casualty buried in the Philippines as unknown soldier X-15.

Three years and many steps later Richard Murphy's remains are finally coming home. Darcy's efforts resulted in the military disinterring the remains in the X-15 grave and bringing them to Hawaii for genetic testing. Gerard Murphy and one of his cousins provided DNA samples — "basically we spit in a bag" — and the military was able to make a positive match.

Richard Murphy's remains are expected to arrive in late November, where they will be reburied in a cemetery in Silver Spring, Maryland, "right next to his mother," Gerard Murphy said.

A native of Washington, D.C., Richard Murphy graduated from Georgetown University and worked for several years for the Washington Evening Star, an afternoon newspaper that ceased publication in 1981. When the U.S. entered World War II, Murphy enlisted in the Marines as a combat correspondent, island hopping through the Pacific with American troops.

"He carried his M-1 rifle and his typewriter," Gerard Murphy said. "All my life we heard about Uncle Richard. Having his remains brought home feels really amazing — very spiritual."

Working from his home in Florida, Darcy was able to make the match by comparing dental records from Richard Murphy's enlistment with those of unknown soldier X-15, all supplied for a fee by the National Archives and Records Administration. Darcy said he has dealt with dozens of such cases and often ends up dealing directly with family members — sometimes with divergent reactions to news of a long-dead relative.

"Some are very, very grateful," he said. "Some don't want to be bothered."

Darcy said he has personally helped complete 15 such unknown soldier cases from World War II, a small fraction of the nearly 9,000 unknown soldier cases from that conflict.

His work frequently brings him in contact with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, or DPAA. Darcy expressed some frustration with the pace of the process on the military's end.

"It took three years for them to decide to disinter (Murphy), go get the body and ship it to Hawaii for DNA testing," Darcy said. "I've got 48 more on my desk right now. How long is it going to take to get them through those?"

Hattie Johnson, a service casualty officer for the Marine Corps, has been handling the Murphy case and said there's a renewed sense of urgency surrounding the World War II cases because "the family members of these soldiers are starting to die off."

The situation is complicated by the relatively primitive nature of the medical and dental records back then, Johnson said. For example, the dental records on file for each American soldier and Marine were essentially done by hand instead of with an X-ray machine.

"Back then, the dentist would literally look into your mouth and manually fill out a chart," she said.

Still, Darcy was able to make that connection using the same records.

"The military said they tried but they couldn't figure it out," he said. "I think they're just overwhelmed."

___

This story has been corrected to show the battle started June 15, not Jan. 15.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Category 4 Hurricane Michael roars nearer to Florida coast
Michael is swirling onto the Florida Panhandle as a still-growing Category 4 hurricane, pushing a storm surge onto the coast's white-sand beaches and lashing the coast with tropical storm-force winds and rain
7:34AM ( 8 minutes ago )
The Latest: Forecasters: No Cat 4 storm has hit Panhandle
The National Hurricane Center in Miami says Hurricane Michael would be the first Category 4 storm to hit Florida's Panhandle
7:26AM ( 16 minutes ago )
Taylor Swift wins big at AMAs and encourages fans to vote
Taylor Swift kicked off her week with a rare political post on social media, and at the American Music Awards she continued the conversation by encouraging fans to vote in the upcoming midterm elections
6:54AM ( 47 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
More than 70 year later, an unknown soldier comes home
More than 70 years after he died during the 1944 U.S. assault on Saipan, Richard Murphy is coming home
6:28AM ( 1 hour ago )
Trump trashes Democrats' Medicare for All plan in op-ed
President Donald Trump is stepping up his attack on Democrats over a health care proposal called Medicare for All
6:09AM ( 1 hour ago )
Haley became a popular UN diplomat despite Trump policies
Nikki Hailey came to her job as the top US diplomat at the UN with no foreign policy experience, but in less than 2 years she has made many friends _ even among ambassadors from countries that have serious issues with the Trump administration's agenda.
6:07AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Photos surface of Saudis allegedly sent to target writer
A newspaper close to the Turkish president has published photos of what it says was a 15-member "assassination squad" allegedly sent to target Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who went missing after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul last week
2:45AM ( 4 hours ago )
The Latest: South Korea considers lifting sanctions on North
South Korea's foreign minister says Seoul is considering lifting some of its unilateral sanctions against Pyongyang to create more momentum for diplomacy aimed at improving relations
2:30AM ( 5 hours ago )
The Latest: Turkish paper publishes photos of Saudi 'squad'
A pro-government Turkish newspaper has published the names and photographs of 15 Saudi nationals who allegedly arrived in Istanbul on board two private jets the day journalist Jamal Khashoggi went missing
2:21AM ( 5 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
Libertarian says Trump, Democrats need a swing-vote senator
2016 presidential candidate Gary Johnson is steering back into the eye of the Washington political storm with a bid to join the Senate as a Libertarian swing vote
1:12AM ( 6 hours ago )
Trump says he may pick new UN ambassador this month
Trump says he will decide in 2 to 3 weeks, if not sooner, who will be America's next ambassador to the United Nations
12:25AM ( 7 hours ago )
The Latest: Haley departure raises question about Trump team
U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley's abrupt announcement that she is resigning has raised fresh questions about President Donald Trump's team
10:22PM ( 9 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Category 4 Hurricane Michael roars nearer to Florida coast
Michael is swirling onto the Florida Panhandle as a still-growing Category 4 hurricane, pushing a storm surge onto the coast's white-sand beaches and lashing the coast with tropical storm-force winds and rain
7:34AM ( 9 minutes ago )
The Latest: Forecasters: No Cat 4 storm has hit Panhandle
The National Hurricane Center in Miami says Hurricane Michael would be the first Category 4 storm to hit Florida's Panhandle
7:26AM ( 17 minutes ago )
Bloomberg becomes Democrat again, looks at presidential run
Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg is a Democrat again
7:02AM ( 41 minutes ago )
Taylor Swift wins big at AMAs and encourages fans to vote
Taylor Swift kicked off her week with a rare political post on social media, and at the American Music Awards she continued the conversation by encouraging fans to vote in the upcoming midterm elections
6:54AM ( 48 minutes ago )
Images surface of Saudis allegedly sent to target writer
Turkish media have published images of an alleged 15-member Saudi "assassination squad" and video of suspicious movements at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul following journalist Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance a week ago
6:50AM ( 53 minutes ago )