John Murray

John Murray


 John T. Murray entered this world on August 25, 1926. The son of Madge (Cline) Murray and Thomas F. Murray, John spent his childhood in and around Wadena, Iowa. Four younger sisters and three younger brothers were added to the family over the following years.

He entered the US Navy on August 24, 1943, just 1 day before his 17th birthday. He claimed that since he had no birth certificate, the recruiter simply made up a birth date on his paperwork, enabling him to enlist. According to John while he was still in high school, he was encouraged by a navy veteran to enter submarine service because the pay was better and subs had the best food in the Navy. “It was a thousand times better than I expected. It was as good as home cooking,  maybe better”, said John. It is probably a good thing his mother didn’t hear that.

 He attended diesel engine school and submarine school in New London, Connecticut and was assigned to the USS Aegir, AS-23, a sub tender in Hawaii. The first submarine that John went on was the S-28. Usually members of the relief crew relieved 10 percent of each sub crew. John and 7 other relief crewmembers got off the S-28 on a Friday and on the following Monday the S-28 sank, taking 49 crewmembers with her. A few days later Murray and a fellow sailor, Frank Maney, were told that one of them was needed on another sub. They flipped a coin and Maney won (lost?) the toss so he boarded the USS Snook. The USS Snook went down in April of 1945 with Frank Maney and 83 other crewmen. John said that for a flip of the coin he was still alive.

 John served on 7 submarines before attending nuclear power school and being assigned to the USS George Washington. He said the difference between the regular subs and the nuclear submarines was like the difference between night and day. John served on the USS George Washington, the first Polaris class nuclear submarine, until retiring with an honorable discharge on August 24, 1963 . . . the culmination of twenty years beneath the sea. Following his retirement he became a millwright and worked all over the United States for the following 40 years.

 Over the years he and his wife Mary never failed to attend reunions with the surviving submariners he had served with in the past. At the reunion he attended in 1994, the first skipper of the USS Rock attended the event. “He looked at me for several minutes. Then he said, “I remember you. You were the 12 year-old kid in the forward engine room.”

 John had many adventures during his navy service but his biggest adventure was meeting Mary Ambrose and marrying her. She was a faithful navy wife, following him around the country raising their two children; John C. Murray of San Francisco and Jeanne M. Murray-Pinkman (Mark) of Austin, Texas.

 John passed away on May 11, 2017, and was preceded in death by his wife Mary, his father Thomas, his mother Madge, his stepfather Martin Anderson, sisters Mary, Yvonne, Sheila and Patricia, and his brothers Robert and Byron. He is survived by his son John, daughter Jeanne, son-in-law Mark Pinkman, brother Jere (John) and many nieces and nephews.

 He was proud to be an American and for having served his country during the Korean War, World War II and Vietnam. His family will miss his tough exterior and his stories from his glory days.

 His remains will be laid to rest next to those of his beloved wife, Mary at the St. Joseph Cemetery on September 23, at 11:00 with a lunch to follow at the Wadena Legion Hall, Wadena.                  

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