City Offers 'Gratitude and Abiding Respect' to World War II Veteran
Thomas Murphy received the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and now, decades later, a proclamation from his town.
On June 8, 1944, two days after he graduated from high school, Thomas Murphy joined the U.S. Army.
He couldn't vote. He couldn't drink. And he could not yet drive.
But he could serve his country.
What followed was a series of feats and awards — the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart among them.
Years later, the former combat infantryman is still being recognized.
Rochester Hills leaders honored 85-year-old Murphy, who has lived in the city for about 10 years, with a proclamation of gratitude and respect for his heroism and service.
"There's always this concern that we're losing that World War II generation," said Councilmember Ravi Yalamanchi, who worked with city officials to create the proclamation. "One day as I was sitting with him I knew we had to do something to value him."
Yalamanchi and Mayor Bryan Barnett presented Murphy with a framed certificate and detailed his accomplishments. He served in L Company, 179th Infantry, 45th Divison in the European Theatre Operations and was active in freeing the Siegfried Line, crossing of the Rhine River, and the captures of Homberg, Nuremberg and Munich.
Murphy received two standing ovations from about 100 people at the city council meeting Monday night.
He spoke briefly, thanking city leaders for the acknowledgment.
"This covers everything, but there's one effort we did that I didn't mention here, because I have very few nightmares of World War II," he said.
"We were the first people who freed the prisoners of Dachau," he said with a quivering voice. "People try to say it didn't happen. When you have nightmares of odor, of death, you'll never forget World War II."
Dachau was the first Nazi concentration camp opened in Germany, in 1933.
The proclamation, which Barnett read during the presentation, concludes with the city's offering of "sincere gratitude and abiding respect for his outstanding acts of heroism and service to our country."