By By Susanne KapplerAugust 18, 2011
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- A memorial service was held Wednesday for Medal of Honor recipient Charles Murray, who died of congestive heart failure at his home in Columbia Friday, just weeks shy of his 90th birthday. Murray, who retired from the Army as a colonel, received the highest honor presented to members of the armed forces for his actions during World War II.
"Col. Charles Murray was a true hero in every sense of the word. His receiving the Medal of Honor is certainly testament to his dedication to duty, extraordinary personal courage and commitment to mission and his fellow Soldiers," said Maj. Gen. James Milano, Fort Jackson's commanding general. "He was an inspiration and sterling role model for all people, Soldiers and civilians alike " we should all strive to live our lives in such an honorable, fulfilling manner. His leadership, character and generosity were unmatched, and he will be sorely missed by the entire Fort Jackson community."
Murray joined the Army in 1943 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. He deployed to England the following year and was assigned to Company C, 30th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division.
In December 1944, the unit was involved in heavy fighting near Kayserberg, France. During that time, Murray rose through the ranks to become company commander after many of the unit's leaders were either wounded or killed in action.
On Dec. 16, 1944 Murray was leading a platoon of about 35 Soldiers, when the men encountered nearly 200 heavily-armed German soldiers. He ordered his platoon to take cover and moved on by himself to locate the enemy's position and call for artillery cover. After the first round of artillery missed, Murray returned to his platoon, armed himself with a grenade launcher and took position on a hill to fire on the enemy.
Under heavy fire himself, Murray refused to return to the rear and throughout the initial fire fight killed about 20 German soldiers. After securing a mortar, Murray continued to fire, causing about 50 more casualties and forcing the enemy to retreat. Murray then charged down the hill and captured 10 German soldiers.
Murray was presented the Medal of Honor July 5, 1945 in Salzburg, Austria, where he was stationed at the time. In an interview with WIS News 10 in 2007, Murray recounted the event.
"I knelt down in the road and started firing (the rounds) one at a time into the d-file where the Germans were located; and they hit the target pretty good," he told the station. "Those weapons were gone and still nothing from the upside. Nothing was happening, so I borrowed an automatic rifle. I fired that weapon for 35-45 minutes."
Murray remained humble about his heroic action, though.
"I never think about it. It was a job that had to be done," he said during the same interview.
Murray, a native of Baltimore, also served in the Korean War and the Vietnam War. In addition to
the Medal of Honor, his awards include three Silver Stars, three Bronze Stars and the Purple Heart. After his retirement from the Army in 1973, he worked for the South Carolina Department of Corrections. Murray is survived by his wife of 68 years, Anne Murray, his son, Brian Murray, and his daughter, Cynthia Anne Jones. He was preceded in death by a son, Charles Murray III.
Murray will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.