Terry Murphy

Terry and Carol Murphy

PAUL T. MURPHY  1962

Cullum No. 23914-1962 | September 14, 1977 | Died in Albuquerque, NM 

 Interred in West Point Cemetery, West Point, NY

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Paul Terry Murphy was born in Cincinnati, OH, on Jun 30, 1940, the first child of Paul and Myrtle Murphy. Terry’s father was an owner and manager of green­houses in Cincinnati, and Myrtle worked as an executive assistant at Kroger’s. Terry, along with his younger brother Chuck, spent many hours in the greenhouses and learned early the value of hard work.

Terry attended Western Hills High School and was a letterman in football, bas­ketball, and baseball. At Western Hills, he met the love of his life, Carol Ensminger, whom he would date throughout West Point and marry shortly after graduation.

Terry entered West Point on Jul 1, 1958 and graduated on Jun 6, 1962. He was privi­leged to hear General Douglas MacArthur’s acceptance of the Thayer Award and John F. Kennedy’s speech at graduation. Terry’s sons remember their dad’s actions always embodied “Duty, Honor, Country,” and he gladly accepted his responsibility of “fighting for each other.”

Terry, known to his classmates as P.T., loved West Point and always had a smile on his face. He was manager of the cross country team and participated in many activities. In the Howitzer, Terry was noted for keeping “busy on L1’s ‘field of friendly strife’, in the Debate Council and Forum, and writing letters to a certain blond in Cincinnati.” It goes on to say: “In his spare time he is well known for being the terror of the L1 bridge players.” He excelled in academics and finished 99th in his class. His mother teased him that bridge contrib­uted to a senior year drop in class standing. The Howitzer further notes that “P.T. will be certain to gain his goals.” All that knew him believed he would have, had his life not been cut short 15 years later.

Upon graduation in 1962, Terry was commissioned in the Field Artillery and attended the Field Artillery Officers Basic Course at Ft. Sill, OK. Afterward, he attended Airborne School at Ft. Benning, GA, before he was posted to Schofield Barracks, HI, to serve in the 13th Artillery, 25th Infantry Division, from 1963 to 1965. While there, Brian, the first of three sons, was born. After Hawaii, Terry attended the Field Artillery Career Course at Ft. Sill, where Douglas was born. Terry shipped off to Vietnam in 1967, and the family moved to Cincinnati. Terry served with the 23rd Artillery Group, 1966-68, at Ft. Sill and in Vietnam, was in country during the 1968 Tet offensive, and was awarded the Bronze Star. Upon return, he rarely spoke about Vietnam with the family.

Terry then attended UCLA and received his MS in Aerospace and Astrodynamics in 1970—a true rocket scientist. The family then moved to West Point, where Terry taught in the Department of Mechanics from 1970 to 1973 and Jeffrey was born.

“It is for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us; that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion. That we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain…”

—Abraham Lincoln, Address at Gettysburg, November 1863

Terry left West Point in 1974 to attend the Command & General Staff College in Leavenworth, KS, and then took a one year hardship tour as the S3 of the 4th Missile Command, Korea, receiving an Army Commendation Medal. Meanwhile, the family moved to Largo, FL, where both Terry’s and Carol’s parents had moved in retirement. After Korea, Terry took a posting at Headquarters, Readiness Command, at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, FL.

While in Florida, Terry was en route to a field training exercise in California on Sep 14, 1977 when he was killed in a tragic airplane accident at Kirkland AFB, NM. There is no doubt that Terry died doing what he believed and what he loved. Brian remembers spending a day at MacDill when his Dad pointed to a group of young men out on the exercise field and said, “If you ever wonder why I do this, it’s because of them.” Terry was awarded the Legion of Merit posthumously.

P.T. was interred at the Cemetery at West Point. His funeral service was held in the Old Cadet Chapel and attended by many of his classmates. After his death, Jim and Becky Acklin were instrumental in getting Carol and the three boys relocated to Northern Virginia from Florida. Carol eventually married a Naval Officer, Robert Bell, and settled in Omaha, NE. Carol, who for 20 years had provided the backbone for the family, sadly passed away on Aug 28, 1997, after a short but intense fight with cancer.

Terry and Carol were part of the fabric of the Class of ’62. Both left us too early but live every day through the accomplishments of their three sons. Brian graduated from Duke University in 1985 and the Harvard Business School in 1990. He currently lives in Hong Kong. Douglas graduated from the Naval Academy in 1988 and the Naval Post Graduate School in 1995. He served in the nuclear submarine fleet for 13 years and retired from the Navy Reserves as a commander. He currently lives in Richmond, VA. Jeffrey graduated from Northwestern University in 1992 and from the Harvard Business School in 1998. He currently lives in New York City and visits West Point as often as he can. Brian and Jeffrey benefited from the Class of ’62 scholarship program—for which they are forever grateful. All the boys have wonderful wives of whom Terry and Carol would be proud. There are five grandchildren—three boys and two girls—each with a certain resemblance to Terry and Carol. Jeffrey’s son is named Paul — a fitting legacy for a grandfather who sac­rificed all for “Duty, Honor, Country” and family.

Sons, Brian, Douglas and Jeffery John Wagner ’62, company mate

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