John Robert Murphy

Lance Corporal
United States Marine Corps
08 November 1948 - 08 February 1968
Yorktown Heights, New York
Panel 38E Line 034



Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for John Robert Murphy

05 Mar 2007

John Murphy was always the life of any room he entered. He had a big winning smile and always had something funny to say. Unfortunately for him he shared these funny things in class and at inopportune times that often landed him in trouble.

John was in a dance band named The Impacs. He played sax and bass guitar. He was mostly self taught and could usually improvise after hearing any tune. A picture of the band is attached. From the left members are Steve Hurley, Rob Hurley (drums), John Murphy, Bruce Blackadder and Pat Teirney.

The band was more than just a gig. It was a band of brothers that became best friends. John spent more time at my house than his own it seemed. Time spent with John was never dull. But under the laughter was a heart of gold and a real stand up guy. I have no doubt that John was a solid soldier. If a task was assigned him he came through and produced. He would have kept others in his unit laughing but he would have done his job.

I miss John even today. He was the kind of friend you want to have around and grow old with.

From a good friend,
Steve Hurley
3623 State Route 7, Howes Cave, New York 12092

Notes from The Virtual Wall

There was heavy enemy activity in the vicinity of Danang Air Base during the first days of the Tet Offensive at the end of January 1968, continuing into early February. Combined Action Company ECHO, part of the 2nd CA Group, had small units in place in several villages covering the southern approaches to Danang. One of those units, CAP ECHO 4, was in Lo Giang hamlet, just south of the Cam Le Bridge over the Cau Do River. Early on 08 Feb 1968 ECHO 4 was taken under attack by a mixed NVA/VC force seemingly intent on attacking the Danang Air Base ... ECHO 4 was unfortunate enough to be in the path of a regimental-size unit.

While part of the NVA/VC force laid siege to ECHO 4 the bulk of the force moved north to and forded the Cau Do River east of the Cam Le Bridge. A second Combined Action unit, CAP ECHO 3, was in place on the northern side on the river; it too was directly in the NVA/VC regiment's path. Fortunately for ECHO 3, the delay at ECHO 4 caused the NVA/VC to reach the river after sunrise, allowing a pair of A-1 Skyraiders the opportunity to disrupt the attack and force the enemy to disperse.

Meanwhile, ECHO 4 was getting desperate - they were running out of ammunition, supplementing their limited supplies with AK-47s and ammunition from dead NVA/VC soldiers. The ECHO Company Commander, Captain Howard L. Joselane, had directed formation of a relief force drawn from his other platoons. A 17-man force, led by Captain Joselane, departed ECHO Company headquarters at Hoa Vang by truck, crossed the Cam Le Bridge, and started on foot up the dirt road toward the ECHO 4 compound. As the relief force approached a tree line surrounding Lo Giang hamlet, it came nose-to-nose with 250-300 NVA/VC troops - a situation with only one possible outcome.

Captain Joselane and his Marines fought valiantly, but they were hopelessly out-numbered and out-gunned. Captain Joselane's last radio reports to the ECHO headquarters at Hoa Vang were

"... we're getting chewed up ... we're not going to get out ... there are too many ... they're all over us ... no way out. Don't send anyone else in here ... Tell my wife I love her..."
Fading daylight, uncertainty with respect to the exact location of the relief force, and limited manpower caused the 2nd CA Group headquarters to decide against sending in further forces before sunrise on the 9th. One survivor of the ambush made his way back to Hoa Vang. When the second reaction force went in, they found one badly wounded survivor, twelve dead, and three missing.

One of the missing Marines returned to friendly control; he had been captured but was able to escape his captors during the chaos of the fighting. The other two were gone. The final disposition of the 17 men who had set out to relieve ECHO 4 follows:

  • Killed in action:
    • Capt Howard L. Joselane, Chicago, IL, Commanding Officer, CA Co ECHO
    • SSgt Frank Ramos, Youngstown, OH
    • Sgt Michele Basso, North White Plains, NY
    • Cpl Pete F. Cruz, Chualar, CA
    • HM3 Gregory A. Gifford, Billings, MT
    • Cpl Lee C. Kinney, Welch, MN
    • LCpl Johnnie B. Jackson, Fort Worth, TX
    • LCpl Arthur W. Lamorte, Baltimore, MD
    • LCpl Jimmy A. Metcalf, Dallas, TX
    • LCpl John R. Murphy, Yorktown Heights, NY
    • LCpl Daniel E. Sirianni, Buffalo, NY
    • HN Charles E. Johnson, Toledo, OR, recently joined from Golf 2/7

  • Captured - died in captivity:
  • Captured - escaped and returned to US control:
    • LCpl Don Talbot

  • Survived ambush:
    • Sgt Ed Palmer, evaded from ambush area 08 Feb
    • Cpl Greeno, wounded, recovered 09 Feb
By late afternoon the ECHO 4 Marines had been lifted out of their compound by USAF helicopter; although all 11 Marines and their Popular Force comrades were wounded, none had been killed.

Carl "Mike" Readinger, who was manning the radios at Hoa Vang on the 8th and who went in with the second reaction force on the morning of the 9th, has prepared a description of the action as he remembers it ... you can read his story of the ECHO 4 Reaction Force

As noted above, Dennis Hammond and Joseph Zawtocki had been captured, and both died in captivity. SSgt Zawtocki's remains were repatriated in 1985; SSgt Dennis Hammond in April 2004.

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 05 Mar 2007
Last updated 08/10/2009