May 15, 1945 - 1st Lt George Murphy USMC

By Olson

1st Lt George Murphy USMC was killed in action 70 years ago today on Okinawa. George Murphy was a starting end and team captain of Frank Leahy's 1942 Notre Dame team.

That May morning in 1945, Lt Murphy was ordered to take his platoon up Sugar Loaf Hill on Okinawa. The hill was inhabited by well entrenched Japanese. In the ensuing battle, Murphy gave orders for his platoon to fix bayonets for close quarter combat.

The Marines took heavy casualties. Per eyewitness accounts, Lt Murphy helped more than one wounded Marine to cover, but was hit while attempting to help yet another wounded Marine. These same eyewitnesses claimed that Lt Murphy rose after being hit and emptied his pistol in the general direction of the enemy - then fell over dead.

49 of the 60 Marines who went up Sugar Loaf Hill that morning were either killed or wounded in the battle. George Murphy left behind a wife and infant daughter. Murphy never saw his daughter, she was born the day that he shipped out overseas. Murphy also left behind an older brother, John. John Murphy had also been a Notre Dame football player. John would later be an Irish assistant football coach for Kuharich, Devore, and Ara Parseghian.

The 1942 Notre Dame football squad that George Murphy had captained finished 7-2-2 (losing to Georgia Tech who finished #5, #9 Michigan, and tying #3 Wisconsin and Great Lakes Naval). The '42 Irish were the first squad to use the modern 'T' formation offense, abandoning the famous ND Box.

4 members of the 1942 Notre Dame varsity football team and 1 member of Irish Freshmen squad were killed in WWII. Another was wounded on Okinawa with Murphy; while yet another was captured by the Germans and held as a POW:

  • 1942 Varsity players killed
    • Tom Creevy QB
    • John McGinnis E
    • George Murphy E (team captain)
    • Frank Cusick E
  • 1942 Frosh team player killed
    • George Birmingham HB
  • 1942 Varsity player wounded
    • Frank Sullivan OT - wounded on Okinawa
  • 1938 Varsity player wounded
    • Bill Hofer 2nd team QB - wounded on Okinawa

Note: I do not have a complete list of all the ND players wounded during WWII. I do know that at least three 1942 ND Frosh football players received Purple Hearts. Starting 1942 ND guard Bob McBride was captured by the Germans at the Battle of Bulge and held in captivity until freed toward the end of the war. McBride weighted less than 100 lbs when he was found.

As an aside: I did find yet another Notre Dame football player who was killed in action in WWII (that I had not listed in my previous post on the ND football players killed in action during WWII)

Francis Pieri from Mahaney City, Pa

Pieri had been a QB on the '37 Irish and a FB on the 1939 team. Pieri had been awarded a 'ND reserve monogram' after the 1939 season. Captain Pieri (Army) was KIA in France on August 22, 1944.

Keywords: football, george murphy, world war ii, frank leahy, okinawa, joe kuharich, hugh devore, ara parseghian, georgia tech, michigan, wisconsin, great lakes naval, tom creevy, john mcginnes, frank cusick, george birmingham, frank sullivan, bill hofer, bob mcbride, francis pieri

Posted On: 2015-05-15 07:18:45 by Olson
Edited On: 2015-05-15 07:21:46 by IrishTrpt07


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