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Pam Murphy, widow of actor Audie Murphy, was veterans’ friend and advocate

Pam Murphy: Audie Murphy Widow

Pam Murphy, the widow of Audie Murphy, was involved in the Sepulveda VA hospital and care center over the course of 35 years, treating every veteran who visited the facility as if they were a VIP. Pam Murphy died last week at the age of 90

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By Dennis McCarthy
After Audie died, they all became her boys. Every last one of them.

Any soldier or Marine who walked into the Sepulveda VA hospital and care center in the last 35 years got the VIP treatment from Pam Murphy.

The widow of Audie Murphy – the most decorated soldier in World War II – would walk the hallways with her clipboard in hand making sure her boys got to see a specialist or doctor — STAT. If they didn’t, watch out.

Her boys weren’t Medal of Honor recipients or movie stars like Audie, but that didn’t matter to Pam. They had served their country. That was good enough for her.

She never called a veteran by his first name. It was always “Mister.” Respect came with the job.

“Nobody could cut through VA red tape faster than Mrs. Murphy,” said veteran Stephen Sherman, speaking for thousands of veterans she befriended over the years.

“Many times I watched her march a veteran who had been waiting more than an hour right into the doctor’s office. She was even reprimanded a few times, but it didn’t matter to Mrs. Murphy.

“Only her boys mattered. She was our angel.”

Last week, Sepulveda VA’s angel for the last 35 years died peacefully in her sleep at age 90.

“She was in bed watching the Laker game, took one last breath, and that was it,” said Diane Ruiz, who also worked at the VA and cared for Pam in the last years of her life in her Canoga Park apartment.

It was the same apartment Pam moved into soon after Audie died in a plane crash on Memorial Day weekend in 1971.

Audie Murphy died broke, squandering million of dollars on gambling, bad investments, and yes, other women.

“Even with the adultery and desertion at the end, he always remained my hero,” Pam told me.

She went from a comfortable ranch-style home in Van Nuys where she raised two sons to a small apartment – taking a clerk’s job at the nearby VA to support herself and start paying off her faded movie star husband’s debts.

At first, no one knew who she was. Soon, though, word spread through the VA that the nice woman with the clipboard was Audie Murphy’s widow.

It was like saying Patton had just walked in the front door. Men with tears in their eyes walked up to her and gave her a hug. “Thank you,” they said, over and over.

The first couple of years, I think the hugs were more for Audie’s memory as a war hero. The last 30 years, they were for Pam.

She hated the spotlight. One year I asked her to be the focus of a Veteran’s Day column for all the work she had done. Pam just shook her head no.

“Honor them, not me,” she said, pointing to a group of veterans down the hallway. “They’re the ones who deserve it.”

The vets disagreed. Mrs. Murphy deserved the accolades, they said.

Incredibly, in 2002, Pam’s job was going to be eliminated in budget cuts. She was considered “excess staff.”

“I don’t think helping cut down on veterans’ complaints and showing them the respect they deserve, should be considered excess staff,” she told me.

Neither did the veterans. They went ballistic, holding a rally for her outside the VA gates.

Pretty soon, word came down from the top of the VA. Pam Murphy was no longer considered “excess staff.” She remained working full time at the VA until 2007 when she was 87.

“The last time she was here was a couple of years ago for the conference we had for homeless veterans,” said Becky James, coordinator of the VA’s Veterans History Project.

Pam wanted to see if there was anything she could do to help some more of her boys.

Funeral services for Pam Murphy will be held Friday at 2:30 p.m. in the chapel at Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills, 6300 Forest Lawn Drive, Los Angeles.

ORIGINAL STORY POSTED: http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_14885262

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Posted by on Apr 16 2010, With 0 Reads, Filed under World War II. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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14 Comments for “Pam Murphy, widow of actor Audie Murphy, was veterans’ friend and advocate”

  1. Dennis L. Tredinnick

    I would like to say I enjoyed the article that writer Dennis McCarthy wrote about A Great Lady Has Passed. Pamela Murphy was an Angel to all the Veterans that passed through the veterans hospital. I wish I could have known her or worked with her. To those who did they were very lucky to have had that chance.

  2. Someone needs to go to “Find a Grave” web site and add her name and her information.
    She deserves to be listed there with his first wife and Audie. I looked through and did not see her listed anywhere.

  3. Michele Brown

    Hi,

    I believe what you say to be true and, sadly, it is not just your story and the thousands like it dealing with the VA and those to whom you have returned. It is endemic in nearly all paths that those who never went away follow with so many things which go , seemingly, unnoticed or at least unaddressed. It is a systemic breakdown which results in more and more so disgusted and discouraged that they finally drop out of trying to do anything about it.

    My prayers are with you and those who fight this and I hope for blessings for you and relief or, the very least, understanding and comprehension from those who should be standing shoulder to shoulder in the effort to turn this around.

    I listen to “supposed” ‘patriots’ who rant and rave everyday with no effort to change things, just speaking about things and doing nothing to research and put time or money into those who are trying to effect changes. I ask them why don’t they go to wherein the troops who are returning here to this land and shak their hands in wselcome and say to them the truth; that while they were away fighting for what they thought was our freedom, we wer busy paying no attention while it was being given away.

    There are those who know what you say and do try to change things but not nearly enough. I hope that this reply from a civilian is okay as I am with you in what you are saying.

    God bless all of you,

    Michele

  4. She is a class act. I doubt if she would continence any bad mouthing of C-in-C, but I doubt if he(C-in-C) has any idea who Lt. Murphy was and the contributions he made and she continued to make.
    She’s earned my salute.

  5. Semper Fi Sgt….
    Please send your comment to vetspeak.org It is a must read for all Veterans, their families and widows….We want to hear from all Vets concerned with these ISSUES you speak of….Sempeer Fi, Joe (Marine,now a) Citizen

  6. God Bless Mrs. Murphy

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