Release Date: April 11, 2022
April 10, 2022 was National Siblings Day. In this episode, we bring you the inspiring stories of two separate sets of siblings — both from families with long legacies of service — whose lives were forever changed by the war in Vietnam.
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(HOST): [00:00:00] We learn an awful lot from our siblings. Think about it. If you were lucky enough to have them, your siblings were probably your first playmates, your first roommates, your first best friends, and maybe your first worst enemies. Siblings helped to prepare you for the world, either by example or sometimes by counterexample. You share half of the same genetic makeup, and yet you’re so different. Or maybe you aren’t. It’s that weird combination of striking similarities and glaring differences that makes relationships between siblings unlike any others. Yesterday was National Siblings Day. When we saw it on the calendar. Our thoughts ran immediately to the 42 pairs of brothers who were on The Wall. That’s 42 that we know of. There could be more, especially when you consider step siblings. And of course, there must be thousands of people who have one sibling on The Wall. We’ve heard from some of them on this podcast. Julie Kink talked about her brother David, a downed helicopter pilot in Episode 2. In Episode 6, Jerilyn Broussard shared how the death of her brother Dan, also a helicopter pilot, started a chain of events that led her to create an organization that removes unexploded ordnance in Vietnam and replaces it with trees.
(HOST): [00:01:17] Bruce Geiger and his twin brother both served in Vietnam, and yet in Episode 20, Bruce revealed that he feels closer somehow to guys who served in Con Tien and Khe Sahn, even if he didn’t know them at the time than he does to his twin. In this episode, we’ll bring you two stories of siblings who come from families with long legacies of service. Al Shine is one of four siblings, three boys and a girl who each served in the Vietnam War, two of whom died there. And then we’ll hear from Brian Murphy, one of ten children born to parents who had both been in the Marine Corps. Six of those ten kids went on to become Marines themselves. And one of them is on The Wall at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The sacrifices families make as told by a couple of Gold Star brothers. Stick around. From the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, founders of The Wall. This is Echoes of the Vietnam War. I’m your host, Michael Croan bringing you stories of service, sacrifice and healing from people who still feel the impact of that conflict. Nearly 50 years later. This is Episode 26. Brothers and Sisters in Arms.
(AL): [00:02:54] I am Al Shine, born in 1941. 27 years active service in the Army. Retired in 1990. I was the second of four siblings, three boys and one girl.
(HOST): [00:03:09] The Shine family has a long legacy of military service, generations long, probably dating back to the Civil War. Al’s grandfather served in the First World War, and his father was an aide to General Bradley in World War Two. Al and his older brother, Tony, were born pretty close together before the United States entered that war. The next two, sister Sally and brother John, were born in fairly rapid succession after their father came home from Europe, creating a significant age gap between the two elder kids and the two younger ones.
(AL): [00:03:41] We had a good family, a nice home, a comfortable living as one of the old suburbs in New York where we could walk to school. It was a safe neighborhood. I often say that I spent most summers living like Huck Finn, and particularly my older brother and I and two cousins who were roughly of the same ages. We did lots of things together. We fish, we’d swim, we’d explore, canoe. But my older brother. He was, he was ,he was very much a very significant part of my life. Sorry, it’s funny. Funny how the memories. Sometimes I can talk about this, but no problems. Other times it just becomes a little emotional.
(HOST): [00:04:39] Were you and Anthony into sports or music or any kind of extracurricular?
(AL): [00:04:43] Yeah, we were both pretty much into sports. Tony was a football player. Now he had had polio when he was probably, I’m guessing, about ten or 11 years old. And it had initially they thought he’d die and then they thought he’d be crippled, but he was very determined and he was able to get his body back in order that although having some limitation in one arm, he he was a football player in high school and in college, went to college university. And he was big at least by football players of those days, about six to little, around £200. He was a lineman, I think probably tackle I think probably went both ways, at least in high school. I’m not real sure in college.
(HOST): [00:05:31] So he was just good at moving people out of the way.
(AL): [00:05:33] Yes. Yes.
(HOST): [00:05:35] That must be pretty unusual for somebody who had polio at that at that age to grow up to be six, two and £200.
(AL): [00:05:43] And strong as a bone. It was he was very determined, worked hard. It was a good deal for me during the one year when he was pretty much convalescing. I don’t remember quite how old I was, maybe eight or nine, but we went to the the local, the downtown YMCA swimming and that was particularly for his therapy. And for me it was just fun. And then he got into it, you know, he would lift weights. We both worked a couple of summers loading hay bales and a farm in upstate New York, and he worked construction for one summer, one a running a jackhammer. But he was definitely determined to kind of big for fighters. The story I’ve heard is that he had to kind of scrunch down for them to let him be a fighter pilot. But he did ROTC at Colgate, and that’s what he wanted to be. And so he ended up making it.
(HOST): [00:06:43] So he came out of Colgate commissioned?
(AL): [00:06:46] Yes.
(HOST): [00:06:47] Mm hmm. And where were you at that time?
(AL): [00:06:50] I was at West Point at that time. I went to West Point on graduation from high school, 1959, and I graduated in 1963, commissioned in the Army.
(HOST): [00:07:03] When did you and Tony deploy to Vietnam?
(AL): [00:07:07] I went in January of 67, and I was there for the year of 67. I was an advisor at that time to a Vietnamese ranger battalion. Tony. I came at some time during 67. He deployed and was based in one of the bases in Thailand, was flying f-105 the the the thud, as they called it. And I know he flew 100 missions and then I’m not sure how how long that took, but then he redeployed. So I was back before he came back.
(HOST): [00:07:45] I’m hearing some pounding.
(AL): [00:07:46] Yeah, we were having some work done in the house. Now I’m in the basement. They’re upstairs.
(HOST): [00:07:52] Okay, so just give the listeners a heads up that there is some some pounding in the background. Okay.
(AL): [00:07:57] Now, my sister Sally was over there also. She came, I think probably about the middle of 67 as a Red Cross worker, worked at the 95th evacuation hospital in Saigon. And my base was at then was Swagelok, which was probably about, oh, about 50 miles from Saigon. And so I was able to go visit her one time. And you may remember that Tet hit, I think, right, the end of January 68. And Sally was still there at the 95th Evac Hospital. Now that the. The Red Cross workers at the hospitals at the evac hospital. Their main role was just to kind of help out, talk to the soldiers, write letters for them, whatever. But when when Tet hit the 95th evac hospital, which was right in Saigon, was overwhelmed with casualties. So the nurses kind of ‘hey you’ to help out, and she found out that she could handle it. Okay. And so after that, after coming back with the Red Cross, she went ahead and joined the Army and spent was sent to nurses school and had a 20 or 22 year career as an Army nurse. I went back in 69, was assigned as a rifle company commander with the first Air Cav division in March, about June. Got too close to something that that blew up. And I got what we have, what we call $1,000,000 wound. Got evacuated all the way home with no significant lasting problems.
(HOST): [00:09:39] Al’s injuries were significant enough to require multiple surgeries and a long, difficult recovery. In addition to the Purple Heart, he was awarded a Silver Star and the Legion of Merit. His older brother, Tony, still had a second tour ahead of him, but not before John, the youngest of the Shine siblings, would join the fight.
(AL): [00:09:58] I was class of 63 at West Point. John went there and graduated in 69, deployed to Vietnam in the summer of 1970 as a rifle company commander with the 25th Infantry Division and was killed in action in October of 1970. Have any of the four of us. John was the most complete and that he was very, very smart. He was a star man at West Point, which means that for four years, all four years, he was he was academically in the top 5% of his class, which is they wear stars on their collar. And he was a star man all four years and liked to point out to me that there was something missing on the colors of my uniforms because I was a good student. But I wasn’t that good. He was a gymnast and did these amazing things with the high bar. But he also was you know, he was a very likable person. And he was a good leader.
(HOST): [00:11:09] And where was he?
(AL): [00:11:10] He was down in the in the three corp region, if you’re familiar with the cause northwest of Saigon, the Iron Triangle area. A lot of just a lot of caves. Booby traps. Mines. The particular firefight that he got engaged in. They were out doing what we what we tended to do, what we did in the first camp to just wander around the jungles seeking to seek and destroy as the term was. And they ran into a North Vietnamese army or Vietcong element and took him under fire. And he was killed in the battle. Mm hmm.
(HOST): [00:11:52] The timeline is a little hard to follow. So you and Tony and Sally were all still in Vietnam when this happened?
(AL): [00:12:00] No, no, no. None of us were. When John was killed, I came back at the end of 67. Didn’t go back again until until March of 69. Sally came back sometime in 68 and did not return to Vietnam. Tony finished up, I’m guessing, sometime in early 68 and then didn’t go back again until 72.
(HOST): [00:12:27] 72. Right.
(AL): [00:12:29] So John was in between in the middle in 1970.
(COLLEEN): [00:12:33] I was six when my Uncle John was killed in action.
(HOST): [00:12:37] That’s Colleen Shine, daughter to Tony and niece to Al, Sally and John. Even though she was only a small child when John was killed, she remembers vividly what it was like to receive the news. She was already familiar with the phenomenon of men and her family going away for long periods of time. But they always came back.
(COLLEEN): [00:12:57] I have the memory of my mom telling me that it had happened and the finality of death. John was the first loss I had had in my very young life. And I guess the way that my my parent, my mom said it was enough to let me know she meant never. You know, John wasn’t deployed and coming back like dad was deployed and coming back. He wasn’t on a mission he was going to return from. And so that was just really sad.
(HOST): [00:13:40] When John was killed, Tony was stationed in Okinawa. In fact, he had been there since before Al’s second tour was cut short by injury.
(AL): [00:13:49] He was stationed, he was based in Okinawa and for a couple of years. And in fact, when I was when I was evacuated, I requested specifically to go through there. So I was able to see them while I was in the evac hospital there in Okinawa.
(HOST): [00:14:07] Colleen remembers her Uncle Al’s visit to Okinawa.
(COLLEEN): [00:14:11] As a young girl, I recall my uncle came after one of the surgeries that he had had, and there was so much shrapnel in his torso that I remember. It looked like a zipper down his chest. And I remember saying, it looks like a zipper, he said. Of course it is a zipper. They’ve had to give me so many surgeries, they decided it would be much easier just to zip me up and down. And as a kid, I really assumed it really was a zipper. It took me a lot of years before I realized it wasn’t a zipper, but it was a lot of shrapnel, a lot of pain and multiple surgeries.
(HOST): [00:14:46] Tony was still in Okinawa when John was killed in October of 1970. Al remembers how the news found him.
(AL): [00:14:54] I was teaching at West Point and I my wife was a graduate of the King’s College. Yeah, it was. Her fifth reunion was going on. And so we had been down staying with my parents and were over at a at a function at her college when someone came and found us in the crowd and told us. So my, my dad was up in the administrative building and we needed to go see him. And we, you know, we knew it probably wasn’t good news. And, of course, it wasn’t. John had been married probably about a year. But John’s wife at the time was down south at a at the funeral of one of John’s friends, who had also been killed just a little bit earlier. Gail was there. And a comforting a friend when she got the word that her husband had been killed. [HOST] Oh, my goodness. [AL] Quite a scenario.
(HOST): [00:16:03] Scenario got even more surreal as Tony, who was still in Okinawa, requested the duty of escorting John’s body home. As John was laid to rest at West Point, he stood vigil over his kid brother’s body. Then he returned to service in Okinawa. So after John was buried at West Point, I’m assuming you remained there.
(AL): [00:16:28] Yeah. My tour of duty went through the summer of 74, so, yeah, I was still teaching there. And of course, you know, occasionally we would visit the grave site.
(HOST): [00:16:40] Five years after his first tour. Having in the meantime buried one kid brother and seen the other one narrowly escaped death. Tony returned to Vietnam for his second tour.
(AL): [00:16:52] He went back in 72. Flying now, an A7, which was known affectionately as the SLUF, the slow, little ugly f-er. So he flew a thud in his first tour and this SLUF the second. But he had not been there too long. When the mission he was on, he went in and didn’t come out. So he was missing in action for about officially for about 25 years, because it turns out he was in under cloud cover in some triple canopy jungle, and they never even found the evidence of what had happened. He just they just know that that he went on went in on a bombing run and didn’t come out.
(COLLEEN): [00:17:36] The difference of being sat down and told your dad is missing and he could be dead. And I knew dead was never coming back, but he could not be and he might be coming back. And he had just finished a survival training.
(AL): [00:17:53] Of course, we’re very hopeful. When I think it was 75, when because we knew that some of the missing were POWs. You know, we were watching the television to see the the guys coming off the airplanes. And he was not one of them.
(HOST): [00:18:16] Colleen would go on to spend decades chasing down what became of her MIA father, who was finally accounted for nearly 25 years after he went missing. Colleen still works tirelessly on behalf of the National League of POW MIA Families, an organization formed in 1970 to obtain the release of all prisoners the fullest possible accounting for the missing and the repatriation of all recoverable remains of those who died in the Vietnam War. After Tony was finally accounted for in 1996, Alan Salley knew for sure that they were the only two siblings left. Did you and your sister grow closer after your brothers were killed?
(AL): [00:19:04] It’s a fair question because we were not really close. Growing up, I was close to Tony and then John and Sally were pretty close to one another. But. And yeah, I think it’s fair to say that we grew closer as we were the only siblings left of the family.
(HOST): [00:19:25] Anthony Cameron Shine is on The Wall at Panel 1 West, Line 93. His kid brother Jonathan Cameron Shine is on Panel 6 West, Line 2. After a short break, we’ll introduce you to the Murphys of Norwood, Massachusetts.
(BRIAN): [00:19:42] Jim, Dick, Kevin, Bill. Sheila, Tom, Maureen, Brian, Jack, Paul.
(HOST): [00:19:47] Stick around. This year, we’re celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to commemorate this milestone every day at 3 p.m. Eastern. We read the name of every service member on The Wall who died on that date. This is in addition to the live in person reading of the names that will be held in Washington, DC beginning on November 7th. You can visit VVMf.org/ROTN for more information about the daily virtual reading of the names and about the in-person event. We know it isn’t easy for everybody to visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. So VVMF created the wall that heals an exact replica of The Wall at three quarter scale that travels to communities all across America. The Wall That Heals and the Mobile Education Center that travels with it will be in Knoxville, Tennessee, April 21 through 24. To see the rest of this year’s tour schedule and to learn how you can bring the wall that heals to your town. Visit vvmf.org. For 40 years, VVMF has led the way to help heal our nation. Remember those who gave all and honor all who served? Our new legacy endowment will ensure that we can continue honoring Vietnam veterans for the next 40 years and beyond. We launched the Legacy Endowment with a $500,000 matching gift campaign. The Legacy Challenge. Each new outright gift or gift established through a will will be matched up to 50%, with a maximum of $50,000 matched per gift. All qualifying gifts established or newly identified before November 12th of this year are eligible for the match. Learn more at vvmf.org/legacy. Brian Murphy is one of ten children born to two Marines and raised in Norwood, Massachusetts.
(BRIAN): [00:22:21] Jim. Dick. Kevin. Bill. Sheila. Tom. Maureen. Brian. Jack. Paul.
(HOST): [00:22:25] That’s Brian running down the names of all ten Murphy children in birth order. I don’t know why I get such a kick out of that. Maybe because I grew up without any siblings. Anyway, I’d like to hear it again.
(BRIAN): [00:22:36] Jim. Dick. Kevin. Bill. Sheila. Tom. Maureen. Brian. Jack. Paul.
(HOST): [00:22:40] Baby boomers, all of them born between 1947 and 1963. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to grow up in that house.
(BRIAN): [00:22:50] It was really terrific. The house would just fill with noise and activity and music. And at the time it was, you know, rock and roll and Beatles and Motown and everything just coming out of my big brothers and Big Sisters bedrooms. The 12 of us in the house shared one bathroom. For the longest time, we had one little black and white TV that had like a nine inch screen, and there were times that there would be 8 to 10 of us sitting around it and your legs would be over the shoulder of somebody else and leaning on somebody else. It was. It was it was terrific. It wasn’t necessar- necessarily like the Waltons or anything like that, but it was, you know, if we had conflicts and fights or anything, I don’t remember them. You know, at any one time we had three or four in the high school. You know, two or three in the junior high school. When I when I was in elementary school, I think there were five of us in the school. You know, if you got picked on in school, chances are. You know, somebody there knew that you had five older brothers. And in some of them in the school, you know, we didn’t get picked on too much with having the big brothers that I had.
(HOST): [00:24:25] Even if they weren’t bigger and stronger. There were so many of them.
(BRIAN): [00:24:29] Yeah, that’s true. But. Right. Dick in particular was he was the biggest out of my big brothers. He was big. He was muscular. He was tough. You know, he boxed and he wrestled and but at the same time, he was just gentle and looking out for people and. Thank God he wasn’t a bully. But, you know, he stared down lots of bullies. And there was one high school classmate of my sister’s who. He was always being picked on. He was he was slight in stature. And he would get picked on sometimes by the the kids on the bus, particularly the kids in the back of the bus. He recalled that the the bullying and the taunting and everything stopped once Dick Murphy got up, went to the back of the bus and laid down the law. He’s involved in a lot of things, including some real estate, and he always gives veterans a discount on his commission or something, you know, just harkening back to, to Dick.
(HOST): [00:25:56] How was Dick known around town as a young man?
(BRIAN): [00:26:00] He loved baseball. That was his primary passion. He was a Boy Scout. We had a cousin who was a professional boxer. And he would teach boxing at the recreation center. And Dick took to that and wrestling, too. He played cornet in the junior high school band. You know, pretty well rounded. He had lots of jobs through through high school. And. Lots of friends. You know, there’s just so many friends and so many girls. You really like the girls? He he’s a very thoughtful kid for even as a teenager. My birthday, and Jack was like a year and a half younger than me. He would get us each a present on the other one’s birthday, something that we could play with together. And. None of my other brothers or sisters ever did that. I mean, that’s awful thoughtful. I’m thinking he would have been 13, 14 years old at the time.
(HOST): [00:27:17] Tell me about your parents.
(BRIAN): [00:27:19] My dad was from here. My mom was from upstate New York. And they met in the Marine Corps.
(HOST): [00:27:29] They were both in the Marine Corps.
(BRIAN): [00:27:31] Right. My dad my dad and his cousin went to the recruiters the afternoon that. You know, all the folks learned that Pearl Harbor had been attacked. They found the recruiter closed. So they were back the next day and they enlisted in the Marine Corps on December 8th. My mom was a few years younger. And she had three brothers that fought in World War Two and. As soon as the Marine Corps Reserve was reactivated in February of 43, she was in the first group from the Albany, New York, area. That volunteered and went in. My father was in Marine Corps Aviation. He was a airplane mechanic and gunner on the Grumman Avenger, the small three person bomber. And my mother was in aviation as well. She was an instructor. She would be using models and silhouettes. To teach the. The Marines, the difference between a friendly fighter or a bomber and enemy fighter or bomber. They met in San Diego. Legend has it. He went into a PX to get a cod for his fiancee and he met my mom. I don’t know if the card ever got sent.
(HOST): [00:29:26] Yeah. So you had a mother who was a Marine, a father who was a Marine and a police officer. And of the of the ten kids, five Marines and four cops.
(BRIAN): [00:29:37] Six Marines.
(HOST): [00:29:39] Six Marines. Right.
(BRIAN): [00:29:41] And Dick, I’m pretty sure he always had his eyes set on going in the Marine Corps. You know something about the Marines and their history and their legacy and their uniform.
(HOST): [00:29:54] And do you remember how your parents reacted?
(BRIAN): [00:29:58] Well, they were very proud. Dick was sworn in at the police station. He was sworn in in my father’s office. My parents were both there. It was a it was a bit of an event. And that was in April of 67. And he was. Scheduled to leave at the end of June.
(HOST): [00:30:20] End of June for Parris Island.
(BRIAN): [00:30:23] Parris Island.
(HOST): [00:30:27] Do you have any do you have any particular memories of that period between the the the swearing in and the and the departure for Parris Island?
(BRIAN): [00:30:35] One in particular, it was a cloudy day in April, and Dick was. Dick was nine years older than me. One thing that we had in common, we were both baseball fans, Red Sox fans. And I remember coming home from school one day and Dick was he was home from the ball game, was on the radio. And the two of us had we listened to the rest of the game in the living room. Just the two of us. And it turned out to be a pretty historic game for the Red Sox. It was a major league debut of a kid named Billy Rohr, who pitched eight and two thirds innings of no hit. Baseball until the manager went out to visit him on the mound. And and when he returned the next guy up, he hit a single. So it ruined the the no hit bid in the, this kid’s Major League debut. I mean, any Red Sox fan will tell you about April 14th, 1967. But that was something that Dick and I had, just the two of us. You can spend an hour with them and feel like you’re on top of the world. He made a he made a lot of people feel special.
(HOST): [00:32:13] So he went off to Parris Island and then he came home for a short time and then went to Camp Pendleton. When exactly did he go to Vietnam?
(BRIAN): [00:32:23] He got to Vietnam on December 14th of 1967. And he got sick right away. Sounded like malaria, but he was told it wasn’t. And eventually his fever came down. He was assigned to the third Battalion, fourth Marines. And they were, they were up by the DMZ the entire time that he was there.
(HOST): [00:32:46] He write often?
(BRIAN): [00:32:48] He wrote an awful lot. He wrote sometimes a couple of times a day. He was there for a month and a half when he was. He was in several firefights. And then there was a big battle, the end of. January just before Tet. The Tet holiday was the 30th and he was wounded on the 27th when the North Vietnamese army regulars try to take a hill that his company was on top of. And that’s where his lieutenant was killed. The day that he was wounded, I think it might have been 18 Marines in his company were killed, but there were scores and scores, perhaps a couple hundred of the enemy. You know, were, were killed. It just. The enemy just sacrificed them, sending them up the hill in an attack and like a human wave. And he was wounded at that. And the wound was in his. Just like Forrest Gump. It was in his right buttock. And it was a round that hit him. As he’s as he’s jumping back into his foxhole after delivering, you know, ammunition to another hole. He’s, you know, too much of an ark and the AK 47 round ripped, you know, like an eight inch by three inch chunk of flesh, like right off of him.
(BRIAN): [00:34:45] And in January, right from the hospital ship, once he was out there, he was he was writing several times a day. You know, he wrote a letter. You know, he’s writing dad letters to the police station. Where he’s talking about how friggin scared he was that they were going to be overrun and. And. Talking about how painful his wound was. And yet the letter that he sends home, which my mom is going to see and the ten of us are going to see, you know, talks about it feeling like a little bee sting or a little tickle. And but he was in some some pain. And but then he. In the letter, he writes. Something for each one of us. For each of the nine of us. About what the wound looks like. You know, my brother Rachel looks like a catcher’s mitt to another brother who looks like who worked at a bakery. So it looks like a hot cross bun. It looks like a pizza, you know. You know, trying to downplay the terror and his fear and everything. And, you know, he’s entertaining us at the at the same time.
(HOST): [00:36:21] And did you write back?
(BRIAN): [00:36:23] Yeah. We wrote back. I mean.
(HOST): [00:36:25] Did you write back because you were just a kid? You were, what, 13 years old?
(BRIAN): [00:36:29] I mean, I’d write and mostly I’m given them by baseball scores, but there’s no baseball scores in January. But I’m sure I wrote about spring training and hopes for the season and stuff. This would be into 67, I mean, into 68. The Red Sox. Get into the World Series in 67. And it was just a. It just bum locked. That Dick was a big Red Sox fan his entire life. And they stunk his entire life. And then. Just as he’s going to Parris Island in 67, the Red Sox come home having won ten straight. And we had that pennant race all through the summer and into the fall of 67. And Red Sox made it to the World Series. And he’s, you know, just shut off from all outside news in Parris Island. You know, they’re not going to give him a score or anything. He was relying on us with the letters and sending box scores and stuff. So just bum luck, they were horrible his whole life. And as he goes away where he can’t get any news except for letters, he the Red Sox came as close as they. Force as they ever did in the 50 years that I’ve been watching them until this century.
(HOST): [00:38:01] After his his stay on the hospital ship and then eventually making his way back to his unit. What happened next?
(BRIAN): [00:38:09] Well, you know, actually, one of the one of the fellows that I met. You know, recounting reunions as a Navy corpsman. He told me his first recollection of Dick was when he came back. And he had to dress Dick’s wound. He was still he still oozing. You know, I’m wondering if Dick could have stayed longer in the in the rear or. You know, perhaps he could have, but wanted to get back. And then it was beginning of April that he was wounded again in a battle. Took a piece of shrapnel into his forehead. And he was treated in the field. But he refused to report it.
(HOST): [00:39:05] Why did he refuse to report it?
(BRIAN): [00:39:08] Well, under the protocols at the time, if you reported it, that you had been wounded a second time. I don’t know if it was automatic that you get put to the rear, but Dick didn’t want a chance that. But it breaks your heart now to look at the letter from my mom, pleading with him to report it because it would have it was a good chance. It would have meant that he would finish out his you know, you had seven months to go and Vietnam it finish it out, some duty in the in the rear or something. And he he commented, that’s not the it’s not the type of Marine I want to be.
(HOST): [00:40:05] You mind talking about the circumstances of of his death?
(BRIAN): [00:40:09] Middle of June. Um. There was a. Big press from the NVA. And this was over almost into Laos. You know, like the northwest corner of Vietnam, just below the DMZ, was an early morning attack. You know, they could hear them during the night getting into position and they attacked in the morning. This company lost, you know, just a couple of guys during that morning. And then there was a lull for a couple of hours. And then the request came down to to Dick’s squad leader. Go down the hill. Recover weapons, check for wounded. Um. Count the bodies. They were doing that when the for the first time in a couple of hours, sniper fire erupted. And Dick was felled with the first shot. He was hit through the chest. And. You know, I have a ear witness account from a marine that was nearby. He couldn’t see it from where he was. Heard the shot and heard this kid from New Jersey scream, Oh, my God, Murphy’s hit. And then another shot. And that kid was hit. He started yelling that he was hit. So by this time, the other Marines are telling him to just shut up, lay down, play dead, and. Third round kills kills that kid. And then somewhere. In that order. The radio man was was hit. He was killed. Everybody’s getting hit with head shots other than Dick was shot through the chest. And, you know, a corpsman goes down. And he gets to Dick and he reports back that Dick’s. Dick’s gone and he’s hit. And another corpsman got down there and he was. He was. Trying to get. He had asked for a grenade from somebody and they thrown him a grenade. As he turns to get the grenade, he’s hit. In a matter of maybe 30 seconds, Dick is hit. Kid from New Jersey’s hit, radio man from Phoenix, Arizona. He’s killed a corpsman from L.A., was killed the other corpsman’s from Paducah, Kentucky. I mean, if you just look at it on a map, it’s just. Devastation all around the country to these five families for one sniper shootings, 30 seconds. You know, forever changing everybody’s life.
(HOST): [00:43:42] You’ve gone into law enforcement as well in Norwood.
(BRIAN): [00:43:46] Yep, yeah. Retired now, but I did. 36 years.
(HOST): [00:43:51] 36 years. How many years your dad did?
(BRIAN): [00:43:55] He was 33 and died when he was still active.
(HOST): [00:44:01] Any. Any other Murphy’s in law enforcement in Norwood or elsewhere?
(BRIAN): [00:44:04] Yeah. I had a brother that did 28, a sister that did 30 or so, and a younger brother who just retired. He was the last one of us. He did 35, 36. 36 years. So between my my dad and the four of us. We totaled, I think, 157 years. [HOST] Wow. [BRIAN] And Dick was you know, that was Dick’s aspiration to be a police officer. And. As he as he said he wanted to. He would have got out of the Marine Corps in 71. He just wanted to do his four years and get out. And so he wanted to trade the green for the blue. You know when the word hit Norwood. They knew to to notify my dad at the police station. And so when Dick had been wounded before. I think it was just a Marine or two Marines went to the station. At this time. It was a Marine and a priest walking the steps of the station. So, I would say even the officer on the desk at the sight of that must have known what was going on and I think my dad had to have just, you know, his shoulders just had to have dropped at the sight of them. You know, there’s no words necessary, you know, for most gold star families when they see the car pull up or somebody coming up to the door.
(BRIAN): [00:46:06] I think they got an idea. And so. My dad had a pretty good idea where we all were. A lot of us were still in school the last day of school, so the call went out to the high school, the junior high, and our elementary school. There were two of us there. Or one of the junior high and two in high school. So the five of us still in school, one not yet in school. And Dick and the three other older boys were all graduated, but he knew where each of them were working. So the phone calls went out all over. And you can never tell where my mum was, you know, she’d be out shopping and she should be. She could be anywhere in East Massachusetts looking for a bargain. The word went out, I’d say to all the police cars to try this place, try that place, you know, looking for my, my mother’s car and. She evaded a dragnet. And we were all home by the time she got home and she backed in. My my dad told us one by one, a two by two as we came in. And he, you know, he broke down. Every single time. What he went through just to notify the nine of us. And then when my mom came home, you know, she just fell, fell onto him.
(HOST): [00:47:40] So she managed not only to evade the dragnet, but she managed not to have heard the news before she got home.
(BRIAN): [00:47:46] Right. Yeah, but it’s a small town.
(HOST): [00:47:49] She could have hurt it anywhere on the way home.
(BRIAN): [00:47:51] Yeah, that’s what my father was trying to avoid. Wanted her. And you know, as word spread. Everywhere I go, the ice cream shops, the pharmacy where Dick worked before we went in. Supermarkets. Every place where one of us worked or spent some time and an. Well, places that hang out and so many friends and and girlfriends. It just went all around the town. And so when we finally did come home. You know, the visiting hours were more than what you do these days. It was three nights and and two afternoons. And the line was out the funeral home down the street, around the corner. It was. People spent an incredible amount of time waiting just to come through and pay their respects. But it was probably the biggest funeral I’ve ever seen here. And then. Then it was over. Rush. Just go forward. Dick is located on Panel 57 West, Line 29.
(HOST): [00:49:29] Brian and his sister Maureen both volunteer regularly at The Wall in Washington, DC. Proof that if you know one of the Murphys of Norwood, there’s a good chance you know more than one. Like a lot of our beloved yellow hat volunteers, they live some distance from the memorial, but they get there as often as they can. Echoes of the Vietnam War will be back in two weeks with more stories of service, sacrifice and healing.
(MUSIC): [00:49:52] I know where the wind will take me.
(HOST): [00:49:55] We’ll see you then.
(MUSIC): [00:49:57] But I know that these days won’t break me. For as long as I keep a light. Shine unto the night for him to see. So I. I believe. And my love will be redeemed. And he will be there. When I arrive, All the way to the end.
Full Interview with Al Shine
Full Interview with Brian Murphy
Full Interview with Colleen Shine
- Episode 2: The Sound of Hope – https://echoes-of-the-vietnam-war.simplecast.com/episodes/the-sound-of-hope
- Episode 6: Out of Tragedy, Trees – https://echoes-of-the-vietnam-war.simplecast.com/episodes/out-of-tragedy-trees
- Episode 20: Remembering Khe Sanh – https://echoes-of-the-vietnam-war.simplecast.com/episodes/remembering-khe-sanh
- VVMF Wall of Faces: Anthony Shine – https://www.vvmf.org/Wall-of-Faces/47203/ANTHONY-C-SHINE/
- VVMF Wall of Faces: Jonathan Shine – https://www.vvmf.org/Wall-of-Faces/47205/JONATHAN-C-SHINE/
- VVMF Reading of the Names – vvmf.org/rotn
- VVMF 40th Anniversary – vvmf.org/40th
- VVMF The Wall That Heals – vvmf.org/the-wall-that-heals
- VVMF Legacy Endowment Challenge – vvmf.org/legacy
- VVMF Wall of Faces: Richard Murphy – https://www.vvmf.org/Wall-of-Faces/35781/RICHARD-B-MURPHY/
- Full interview with Al Shine – https://youtu.be/aAxRwhaf4Mg?si=6AJfPUSDjc6tN7Q8
- Full interview with Brian Murphy – https://youtu.be/a3YeKysqFrY?si=y8ta3KKvCXGxZ5Jx
- Full interview with Colleen Shine – https://youtu.be/YPeR0w7totQ?si=E2AFdtdZmFyq3wi2
- YouTube Echoes of the Vietnam War Interview playlist – https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLK63b6Cn53unMMj-yZYEch0RuYy1YN1zl