Maj. Gen. Raymond L. Murray, 91; led the breakout at Chosin
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    Cool Maj. Gen. Raymond L. Murray, 91; led the breakout at Chosin

    Maj. Gen. Raymond L. Murray, 91; led the breakout at Chosin

    By Jack Williams
    November 13, 2004

    Long after retired Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Raymond L. Murray commanded troops on perilous missions in two wars, his regal military bearing and resonant voice endured.

    Yet his carefully chosen words offered little insight into the heroism that distinguished a 33-year career.

    "You really had to drag it out of him," retired Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth McLennan said. "In the Marine Corps, we have our share of heroes. Murray was a hero's hero."

    Gen. Murray, whose combat decorations included two Navy Crosses, an Army Distinguished Service Cross, a Purple Heart and four Silver Stars, died Thursday at Scripps Memorial Hospital-Encinitas. He was 91.

    The cause of death was complications from pneumonia, said his wife, Zona.

    Although his temperament and talents perfectly fit his military role, Gen. Murray's first career choice was high school teaching.

    When he graduated from Texas A&M University in 1935 with an English degree, he was diverted into the Marine Corps by a professor of military science.

    "He was told he was eligible for a regular commission, which figured out to be $125 a month for 12 months," retired Marine Corps Gen. James McMonagle said. "His pay as a high school teacher would have been $90 a month for nine months, and he thought that was a better deal.

    "It was a case of the right man for the right job."

    Gen. Murray, commissioned as a second lieutenant, went on to play major combat roles in World War II and the Korean War. He retired in August 1968 in Bethesda, Md., and moved to Oceanside, where he had lived in the early 1960s as commanding general of Camp Pendleton.

    In January 2003, the city of Oceanside dedicated the College Boulevard bridge in his honor. At the bridge dedication, which coincided with his 90th birthday, a bronze plaque was secured to a large boulder. Placed at the foot of the bridge, the plaque describes Gen. Murray in simple terms: "National Hero, Marine Corps Legend."

    To retired Navy Rear Adm. Richard Lyon, a former Oceanside mayor, the description said it all.

    "He was absolutely unique," Lyon said. "Humble, a true gentleman and the essence of class. What a genuine, wonderful person he was."

    Although Gen. Murray's World War II exploits formed the basis for the fictional character "High Pockets" Huxley in the Leon Uris novel "Battle Cry," he is best remembered by many for his leadership at the Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War.

    Gen. Murray devised a strategy to evacuate convoys through mountain roads while infantrymen defended the corridors. He led about 3,000 heavily outmanned Marines through numbing cold and daunting terrain to the city of Hamhung - actions for which he received the Army Distinguished Service Cross.

    Two days later, in fierce combat in subzero temperatures, he led an assault resulting in the seizure of a vital enemy-held ridge. His actions earned him a Navy Cross. Before the war ended, he received two Silver Stars and a Legion of Merit.

    Gen. Murray received his first Navy Cross during World War II for extraordinary heroism under fire in Saipan. He remained at his post after being seriously wounded and continued to direct his battalion during the initial assault on the island.

    Earlier in the war, Gen. Murray earned two Silver Stars with the 6th Marines for gallantry on Guadalcanal and Tarawa.

    Uris, the acclaimed author, served as a communications specialist in Gen. Murray's 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division in World War II. "Battle Cry," published in 1953, followed Gen. Murray's men through a campaign culminating in the bloody invasion of Saipan.

    The movie adaptation of "Battle Cry," released in 1955, starred Van Heflin as Gen. Murray's character.

    "When Gen. Murray read Uris' book about him, he said the only thing he would change was the name," McMonagle said. "It was a pretty accurate reflection."

    After attaining the rank of colonel in Korea, Gen. Murray served at Marine headquarters in Washington, D.C., and studied at the Naval War College. He commanded the Marine Corps' Basic School in Quantico, Va., for two years and was promoted in 1959 to brigadier general.

    At Texas A&M University, where he was involved in ROTC, he earned all-Southwest Conference honors as an end in football. His above-average height, about 6 feet 3, also helped him earn a varsity letter in basketball.

    Gen. Murray outlived his first two wives - Evelyn Roseman, who died in 1960, and Helen Longshore, who died in 2000.

    Survivors include his wife of three years, Zona; daughter, Sherry Smeltzer of Lake of the Ozarks, Mo.; sons, William Murray and Daniel Murray of Atlanta and James Murray of Greenwood, S.C.; sisters, Helen McClure of San Diego and Marion Sather of Upland; brother, Jack Murray of San Diego; nine grandchildren; and several great-grandchildren.

    A viewing is scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. and a wake from 7 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Mission San Luis Rey, Oceanside. Services are scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday at the mission's Serra Hall. Burial will follow at the mission cemetery.


    Rest In Peace

  2. #2
    Sgt. Smitty
    Guest Free Member
    Now USMC Barracks Heavens Gate has a good leader.

  3. #3
    Rest In Peace Marine.

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