Riders honor one of their own, D.C. "Smoke" Murphy

Escondido, CA

The Patriot Guard Riders (PGR) of Post 149 in Escondido, Calif., honored the memory of D.C. "Smoke" Murphy, a fellow Patriot Guard Rider and American Legionnaire.

PFC Murphy joined the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1943 and served as a B-17 radio operator with the 397th Bomb Squadron. In 1943, he undertook submarine patrols, rescue missions, and surveillance patrols all over the Pacific Arc out to the Galápagos Islands and back to his home station, Guatemala City Airport, and later from Howard Field, Panama. These flights continued, almost non-stop, till the end of the war, when the unit was relieved.

After the war, he owned and operated a barbecue catering service for large groups. He raced boats for two years and finally settled into the carpentry trade. He retired at age 83 as a construction inspector.

Smoke was an avid defender and supporter of our military. His passion stemmed not only from his personal service, but also from the loss of his brother, Marine Capt. Joseph P. Murphy, whose reconnaissance aircraft was lost due to enemy action off the coast of Vietnam. Capt. Murphy was MIA until his body was eventually recovered and now is interred at Arlington National Cemetery. His name is on the Vietnam Memorial Wall.

Smoke, as he was known to all, didn't even own a motorcycle until he was 70 years old. In 1995, Smoke heard of the "Run For The Wall" and participated. Run For the Wall is a cross-country trek which gathers riders along the way and reaches Washington, D.C., and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial – “The Wall” — the day before Memorial Day. Smoke said “I read about it (the run) in a biker magazine and it seemed like an important thing to do. Every time we go it helps to heal a little bit more.”

After his first experience, he participated in 12 more runs for his fellow veterans. Only in the last four years did he concede anything to age and go just part way. On his last run, in 2011, he was 88. Smoke was an avid motorcyclist with over 240,000 miles on his Harley. He not only supported the American Legion Rides and Events, he was an active participant in Patriot Guard Accompaniments and flag lines. His last ride was on March 11, 2012, with his fellow American Legion Riders when he was 90 years old. Smoke may well have been the oldest still riding American Legionnaire in the country at the time of his passing.

Smoke Murphy was airlifted to Syracuse, N.Y., for burial. He was met by the Patriot Guard Riders there and accompanied to his church for a memorial service and then to his final resting place. He was recognized as a SoCal Patriot Guard Rider and American Legionnaire.

He is survived by a sister, Norma Murphy Irvin, Ogdensburg, N.Y.; nine nieces and nephews, 20 great-nieces and nephews and six great-great nieces, and nephews and several cousins.

He was preceded in death by his parents, his brothers Bernard, Joseph, his sister Jeanne, who died March 7, 2013, three nephews Timothy, Douglas and Joseph Wells and several aunts, uncles and cousins.

We did a standing flag line for Smoke at a memorial ceremony at the American Legion Hall where he was an ALR member. His family and friends gathered to remember him.

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