Murray bennett story part 8
MEDAL OF HONOR WINNERS AND THE MERCURY 7 ASTRONAUTS
During the interment of another unknown soldier in 1958, the service was attended by 210 Medals of Honor service winners. Murray had the luck to drive Gen. Doolittle, Audie Murphy, and Adm. Nimitz at different times from their hotels to either some general’s residence or a politician’s residence. The one important factor to him on these drives was his luck to drive Audie Murphy, Audie Murphy, Murray’s hero, plus he was from Texas, and took basic training at Fort Carson just like our Murray.
One of the sergeants that had received the Medals of Honor that Murray had picked up, asked Murray if he could see the scar on his face which was quite evident. When he replied yes, the ex-Sgt. told him a story about when he was in Korea, he told him about the men that Washington kept sending over to him as replacements in groups of 50 to 100 a week. He would tell these new recruits to keep their heads down, but like dumb turkeys they would stick them up and get shot. No matter how many times he told these recruits repeatedly to keep their heads down they just had to see what was over the hill.
Another impressive Medals of Honor winner Murray met as a driver, was a gentleman with a severely scarred face, and mechanical arms from the elbows down with some form of mechanical devices for hands. His face had been reconstructed from extremely severe burning, he was a crewman on a B-29 bomber, and while he was pushing a white phosphorus bombs out the rear of his aircraft on a bombing mission, one of them got stuck. Somehow it ignited and he knew the entire crew would have been lost if he did not get that bomb off that aircraft. By his brave efforts he pushed that bomb and pushed that bomb until it became dislodged thus saving the entire crew. In the process he burned off his hands and arms up to his elbows and his face.
The special interment service with the arrival of the Medals of Honor winners all occurred around the Memorial Day holiday, and on Memorial Day they had a large air show at Andrews Air Force Base. Murray remembers that very well, in his words it was spectacular, they had about 200 airborne troops jump from planes to simulate a firefight. That portion of the show did not quite go right, a lot the paratroopers landed on tanks and other equipment parked on the airfield and ended up injuring themselves. But Murray felt about them as he did the MPs, since they were rather obnoxious it did not bother him at all if they broke a few legs out there.
Continuing about the air show, they also had the Thunderbirds, and the Blue Angels do their acrobatic runs which to this very day we find amazing. This was the first showing of the Conair B 58 Hustler, capable of flying at Mach 2. By the time the announcer of the air show told the crowd that the plane was 10 miles down range and made its final turn toward them it was there, upon them, and with a loud BOOM it broke the sound barrier and then went straight up, out of sight in seconds.
Murray drove many special people in Washington DC and one very memorable group stands out in his mind to this day and that group was the mercury 7 astronauts. The mercury 7 astronauts visited Washington DC in 1958, Murray and another driver picked the astronauts up at Andrews Air Force Base. Murray and his fellow driver had prearranged to swap astronauts, on the way to Congress and the president Murray would drive 4 of the astronauts while the other driver drove the other 3. On the return trip they swapped, and Murray would drive the 3 astronauts and the other driver would drive the other 4. This way they each got to meet all the astronauts.
Murray and his fellow driver picked up each astronaut from their plane after they taxied to a landing stop, each astronaut flew his own fighter plane to the airport. After Murray and the other driver picked up all the astronauts individually, they drove them to Congress where there was a joint session in order and the astronauts went in to give a speech of sorts. Murray and the other driver went in behind the astronauts and sat down and waited for them.
The Mercury 7 Astronauts were Alan B. Shepard, Jr., John H. Glenn, Jr., Virgil I. 'Gus' Grissom, Scott Carpenter, L. Gordon Cooper, Jr., Walter M. Schirra, Jr., Donald K. 'Deke' After finishing with their business with Congress the astronauts had the drivers take them to the White House where they entered the grounds through the side gate. Arriving at the White House the astronauts proceeded inside to have a meeting with Pres. Eisenhower while Murray and the other driver waited outside. After a short meeting with Eisenhower of about 30 to 45 minutes the astronauts left the White House and had Murray and his partner drive them back to their planes at Andrews Air Force Base where they departed their ways. What impressed Murray the most about the conversation the astronauts had been how impressed the astronauts were to meet the Congressman, just as he was.
Please lets keep the prayers flowing for Florentino and his daughter, may we hope to hear from him soon.
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