Murphy to go on Honor Flight April 22
Katherine Murphy is another resident in Washington County who will be on the Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., April 22.
“I’ve never been to Washington, D.C., before, but my grandkids have,” Murphy said. “It’s going to be a long day, but I’m looking forward to seeing all of them [the memorials].”
Murphy was invited to go because of her service in the Air Force.
“I joined in 1952,” she said. “I was 19 years old. I worked at Washington Café all four years while I was in high school and thought there had to be something better than this, so I signed up.”
She spent two months in San Antonio for basic training, then was stationed in Fort Snelling, Minn. with the 31st Division.
“I worked in a block house, which was 12 feet high and had 8 inches of cement for the walls,” Murphy said. “There weren’t any windows.”
She was a clerk-typist for the 31st Division. Most of her typing was for “mock” wars.
“They pretended like we were fighting,” Murphy said.
Murphy’s Air Force uniform color was blue and white striped. She wore a hat with her hair tucked into it, a jacket, and a skirt, which was common for women service members.
On March 30, 1954, Murphy was notified she was awarded the “Airman of the Month” award. She was the only female to receive the honor that month.
“I got $10 and a three-day pass,” Murphy said. “I was excited to receive the money. Back then that was good money.”
The letter she received notifying her of the award said she getting the award because of her “accuracy, reliability, proficiency as a clerk typist, and accepting work readily.” The letter also described her disposition as always being “cheerful with enthusiasm,” and always having a “willingness to participate.”
When she wasn’t working as a clerk-typist, Murphy sang. She began singing professionally when she was 14 years old with dance bands in Washington and just kept doing so.
When she joined the Air Force Murphy started looking for places to perform on base. She found a division and other Air Force members who were just playing instruments randomly.
In 1954 Murphy left the Air Force. During her two years of service she met her husband, Jack. He was in the Air Force until 1960. Once they were both out of the service, they moved back to Washington.
He passed away in 1965, Murphy said. She went back to singing professionally to support her family.
“I had to do something so my kids could eat after my husband died,” she said.
Murphy has a photo album full of pictures from her time at Fort Snelling. She also has recordings of her performing, which she will gladly play for you when you visit her.