In its mission to take history out of the textbooks by honoring a local veteran each month of the school year, the Hampton Bays School District is paying tribute to Korean War veteran Robert T. Murray by flying an American flag in his honor throughout the month of November.
“The district is proud to honor Mr. Murray for his bravery and service to the United States,” Superintendent of Schools Lars Clemensen said.
Murray, a 40-year Hampton Bays resident, was honored at an annual Veterans Day breakfast and ceremony on November 10 at Hampton Bays Elementary School. During the event, fourth- and fifth-grade students read his biography, spoke about the importance of Veterans Day and sang the songs from all five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.
The event culminated with a breakfast for local veterans in attendance and raising the flag in Murray’s honor.
Murray was born in the Bronx, where he attended St. Augustine’s Elementary School and La Salle Academy. In 1951, he was drafted into the U.S. Army and assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. At Fort Bragg, he was trained and jump-qualified in parachuting. He completed 15 jumps in two years.
He stayed at Fort Bragg while his fellow soldiers went abroad—Murray said he forgot to step back when the others did, thereby missing the assignment.
At Fort Bragg, he served as a radioman, carrying the radio and making calls for the platoon leader or the company commander. One of the most interesting experiences Murray had while at Fort Bragg was driving in a convoy from Lometa, Texas to then Camp Drum near Watertown, New York. He drove a captain who said he wanted a sergeant as a driver. Mr. Murray said his biggest mistake was not suggesting to the captain that he be promoted to sergeant.
After Murray returned to Fort Bragg, a general who wanted to fly asked if there were any soldiers from New York. Murray responded and was presented with an opportunity to fly to Mitchel Field (near Roosevelt Mall) on Long Island. Once there, that general allowed Murray to visit with his fiancée.
Murray was soon offered a promotion to sergeant if he would re-enlist, but he declined.
He returned to New York and married Catherine Bianchini in 1953. They lived in the Bronx before moving to New Hyde Park where they raised three children: Marianne, Karen and Stephen. Today, they are the proud grandparents of six grandchildren, four of whom are college graduates. The two youngest grandchildren will attend college when they are old enough.
After Mr. Murray left the Army, he worked for Tip Top Bakery and Wonder Bread for 40 years. He purchased a summer home in Hampton Bays in 1975, and after his retirement, he and his wife moved there and bought a winter home in Florida. He now spends his time between Florida and Hampton Bays, pursuing the love of his life (after his wife)—golf.