Randy Penrod, 8th AFHS-Mn

Randy Penrod (seated) Lou Martin and Norma Ley (standing) at a June 2011 8th AFHS-Mn Luncheon.
Randy gave a wonderful description of the 8th AFHS-Mn Luncheons and Ted Murphy at Ted's Memorial Service. Download and listen to his comments. MP3 Audio File. (49 MB).
Randy likes to race sailboats, is a Certified Firearms instructor from Savage, Minnesota, and is a long time member of the 8th AFHS-Mn.

Randy Penrod's Remarks at the Memorial Service for Ted Murphy

Friendship Village, Bloomington, Mn., June, 2011

“Hi, my name is Randy Penrod. I don’t need this thing. I have a voice that penetrates concrete walls and steel bulkheads. Now I race sailboats. I had no idea Ted was a sailor. Golly, gee whiz, boy-o-boy, am I feeling silly.

I’m a member of the Eighth Air Force Historical Society, which is how I met Ted about ten years ago. And representatives [are] here, and over here, and so forth. And if you ever come to one of our luncheons, you’ll find that people sit in the same spot all the time. Now I sat with the Air Force guys because Larry Bachman, who is a B-24 pilot, 8th Air Force, was my introduction, but the Navy guys, they always sat over here. And so Murph was there, and Glenn was there, and Spook was there--another tail hook guy, and I found as I migrated over to that area from time to time just to find out who were these guys sitting at that table I found that naval aviators can tell incredible stories. And its just a good thing we were all men there, if you catch my drift. Anyhow.

But I heard a story about Ted, and in a fine and wanton disregard for the rules of engagement and the orders of the day, he sort of flew below the deck, below a minimum altitude, in an attack on a Japanese fleet, and in flying through this, I heard that he flew low between two cruisers and started to stall the speed. I’m thinking “Oh I’m a rash guy that likes to take chances and I thought, “Wow. that sounds really neat” until it occurred to me, I said, “Ted, were you trying to draw fire so the cruisers would fire on each other. He said, “Yeah.” And I just thought, “Well that’s pretty slick. You know, a fine one to disregard the rules.” I always follow the rules. And I thought that was really neat until I thought about it a little more. That this man made a target out of himself to inflict damage on the enemy. He risked his life to do this. And all of a sudden, that really neat story took on a lot more significance for me.

But what I want to end up with, and I’ll be brief, I know the timekeeper is here, just whew, and the guys from the Eighth Air Force have heard this story, but it’s the first time I told anybody this happened to be one of the Doolittle Raiders sixteen years ago that I happened to have met. And I’m in the back there and start to sing the Naval Hymn and I start to cry and I’ve been crying all morning long before I came here, and watching a guy my size cry--its not a pretty sight. You have to remember that. I’m going to try and get through this, and I’m not going to succeed. But the way I feel about Ted and the way I feel about these guys, and these guys and so forth, this is what I told this Doolittle Raider. He happened to be Jimmy Doolittle’s navigator.

I said, “You are my American father. Before I was born, you and your brothers in arms risked all of your tomorrows, and far too many times you gave them up, so I could have today the greatest nation on the face of the earth. You guys let me have lunch with you. You let me join your organization. You give me the needle and the barb, which I consider a huge compliment, and sometimes you even let me call you friend. You tell me stories that I don’t think even your wives or your children know. I owe you a debt of gratitude I can never, ever repay.”

And I was thinking this morning, I was talking to somebody, and I said, ”And all I have to offer are tears for his life and his death. Its not a fair trade.” Ted is the fourth of my World War II friends that I lost in three months, and I knew that this would be the price I would have to pay to get to know them: that I get to know them better, and closer, they become more dear to me, and its going to hurt more and more. Like my Dad said, “You can get used to anything.” And I’m getting used to this, but I don’t like it. But it’s the cost I have to pay to get to know wonderful men like this and maybe show them just a little bit of my gratitude…so.

And by the way, there was that little saying that Ted gave me and I’m going, “What is that. Keep your tabs trimmed, and something is low” and, lo and behold, there it is, right there on the back of the program, so I can take it home with me. Thank you much.”