Ted Murphy, Navy Fighter Pilot

(Above) Ted Murphy speaking at an 8th AFHS-Mn Luncheon in February 2003. Dick Hill, Videographer.
(Above) The Planes of Fame Warbirds Air Museum-East's Navy Stearman (N2S) and Navy Corsair (F4U) being flown in July 1987 at Flying Cloud Airport, Eden Prairie, Minnesota. The Stearman pilots appear to be (possibly) Steve Hinton (?) in the red and white hard helmet and beige jumpsuit and Ted Murphy (?) in the green jumpsuit and green cloth headset. They reversed who was flying the Stearman after a landing. Other footage shows the F4U Corsair, P-51 Mustang, and P-47 Thunderbolt taking off and landing. J. Michael Madsen, Videographer.

Theodore Frankman Murphy

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Murphy, Theodore Frankman Age 90, of Bloomington, formerly of Edina, passed away May 24, 2011. Full notice Sunday, June 5. Memorial service 2 PM Saturday, June 11 at Friendship Village, Bloomington. Washburn-McReavy Edina Chapel 952-920-3996

Mpls. Star Tribune Obituary Notice

Theodore Frankman "Ted" Murphy

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Murphy, Theodore "Ted" Frankman passed away peacefully on May 24, 2011. He was born in Minneapolis to Lucille Frankman and Alfred Murphy. Ted is survived by his wife of over 60 years, Patricia; five children, Peg (Larry Laux) Murphy, Kakie (Ken) Dewell, Betsy (Reiner) Eisen, Daniel Murphy, Barb Beise; 10 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He resided in the same house in Morningside for 55 years, prior to moving to Friendship Village in Bloomington. Ted will be sorely missed by family and friends. Ted attended both Central and West High schools in Mpls, graduating in (Jan) 1940. Before graduating, he joined the National Guard and then transferred to the Naval Reserve in 1939. He was called to active duty on May 5, 1940 and was stationed at Wold-Chamberlain (now MSP), until entering preflight training in June of 1943. Ted received various decoration and service medals, including the Distinguished Flying Cross. He was discharged from active duty in December, 1945. He continued flying in the Naval Reserve until 1961 and retired as a Commander on Jan 9, 1981. Ted graduated from the University of MN in 1949 and worked in sales for several companies before beginning a career with the Cornelius Company in 1962. He earned many sales and service awards and made life-long friends. Ted retired from Cornelius after 20 years in 1981. In retirement Ted enjoyed tennis and golf and was an active member of the Planes of Fame Museum at Flying Cloud Airport. He also enjoyed his involvement with the Eighth Air Force Historical Society in Bloomington. The family would like to extend heartfelt thanks to the caring staff at Friendship Village and Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital Hospice. Interment will be at Fort Snelling Cemetery. The Memorial Service will be on Saturday, June 11 at 2:00 p.m., with visitation one hour prior at Friendship Village, 8100 Highwood Drive, Bloomington, MN. Memorials preferred to The Employee Appreciation Fund (Friendship Village, 8100 Highwood Drive, Bloomington, MN 55438). Every year members of the "Greatest Generation "pass on. They were heroes, and they will be remembered. Washburn-McReavy Edina Chapel 952-920-3996
(At least a dozen 8th AFHS-Mn members were there.)
A Downloadable MP3 Audio File from the Memorial Service.
Randy Penrod and Glenn Froberg's memories of Ted --including the other WWII Veterans' recollections.
A written transcript of Randy Penrod's remarks is available on his webpage.
Ted Murphy FM-2 Wildcat Navy Fighter Pilot, USS Fanshaw Bay.
Decorated WWII Veteran of the Battle off Samar, Battle of Leyte Gulf (Taffy 3).
Flew ground support during Saipan, Tinian invasions, the Philippines Campaign and also earlier in the Marshall Islands from Eniwetok Atoll.
Ted Murphy having some of Clinton Johnson's 90th Birthday cake
at the Feb.23, 2011 8th AFHS-Mn Luncheon
Item Thumbnail 
Download a Larger Photo. See his extensive Biography below.
Ted Murphy (right) at the 8th AFHS-MN Luncheon Feb. 23, 2011 listening
to Harry Burke speaking about Fox Hill at the Chosin Reservoir, Korea.

Ted Murphy, Navy Fighter Pilot

Ted F. Murphy was born on January 9, 1921 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He enlisted in the United States Navy on April 7, 1938 as an Aviation Engine Mechanic and was later selected for primary flight training at Naval Air Station (NAS) Minneapolis. He earned his “Wings of Gold” at NAS Pensacola in 1943 and was carrier qualified on the SS Wolverine,1 Great Lakes, Illinois.

On June or July 7, 1944 he was assigned for duty in the Pacific Theater aboard the escort carrier2 USS Fanshaw Bay (CVE-70)3 and flew the FM-2 “Wildcat”4 as a VF-pilot in Composite Squadron VC-68.

Ted flew missions at Saipan and Tinian in the Marianas and later flew close air support for advancing troops during the Philippines Campaign. Ted also saw combat strafing Japanese heavy cruisers5 before running out of ammo and fuel during the ferocious and critical Battle off Samar6--a “David vs. Goliath” moment in history, which stopped a large Japanese naval task force from reaching the Americans on the landing beaches at Leyte, during the invasion of the Philippines. The Battle off Samar, October 24,1944, was a turning point in the Battle of Leyte Gulf--perhaps the largest naval battle in history.

Ted’s FM-2 “Wildcat” was considered “unflyable” after that combat from all the antiaircraft hits. According to Ted, after being given a vector to an airfield in the Philippines and spending the night: ”The word came down for all pilots that had flyable airplanes to take off and rendezvous at point X-ray and fly back to carriers in the area. Those with nonflyable aircraft, [were to] report to the beach for reassignment. It was about ten days to sail from Leyte to Australia. I had no responsibilities, no duty, no watches, nothing. Just relaxing.” He said he was on “LST 617” and they had a good time later in Australia. As Ted put it, “Those were the days. I remember when we steamed into this island in the Pacific and to see the old carriers swinging on the hook, what a great sail that was.”

Ted had many good experiences during his time in the Pacific, including seeing General Douglas MacArthur in person in Hawaii from only a couple of feet away. MacArthur was there for a meeting. Ted said he didn‘t salute him because in wartime “You never let the enemy know where our leaders are.”

Ted said he liked flying the FM-2 Wildcat and he knew the number of turns it took with the hand crank to raise the landing gear. One time while flying over the ocean he spotted what he thought was a Japanese submarine below him, only to discover that it was a very large crocodile.

His experiences were not always pleasant however. Ted was sent to Eniwetok Atoll in the Marshall Islands. He said, “I was there as a replacement pilot for a very short [time], for about--I would say about six weeks. I remember that island. We had a nice sandy beach that had a raft. The guys would swim out there and lollygag around you know. And I swam out there one day and there was another man aboard and when I arrived he said “This Marine has had enough sun for one day. I’m going ashore” With that, he dove, and he damned near made it to shore when a shark bit off his left leg, and he bled to death before they could do anything for him. That’s how I remember that stupid island.” (Ted said he got ashore from the raft in a rowboat.) At Eniwetok he flew missions against Japanese positions in the Marshall Islands.

Ted was one of five veterans at a WWII History Round Table symposium who was invited to speak about the Battle of Leyte Gulf. The following description was prepared by Al Zdon of the American Legion.

Ted Murphy of Edina was an ensign and a fighter pilot on the "jeep" carrier Fanshaw Bay, the flagship of Taffy 3 and the home of Rear Admiral Clifton Sprague, who is given much of the credit for the successful U.S. action against the overwhelming Japanese force.

Murphy remembers listening in over the radio as two American torpedo bombers were scouting over the San Bernadino Strait. "One of the pilots looked down on this huge fleet and said, 'Wow, Halsey must have every ship in the Navy down there.'

"The other pilot replied, 'I'm not so sure those are our ships. Those superstructures look a little like pagodas.' The two dove down for a closer look, and all of sudden one of them radioed, 'There's every ship from every navy in the world down there, and they're all flying the Japanese flag, and they're all shooting at us.'"

As with other lighter ships, when the huge Japanese force attacked, the armor piercing shells went right through the Fanshaw Bay, causing damage but not dealing a lethal blow. "If they had used general purpose shells, they would have sunk every ship we had," Murphy said.

As it was, Murphy got airborne in his FM-2 Wildcat. "I reached for my St. Christopher medal that my mother had given me. I never went near an aircraft without that medal. I felt around for it, and it wasn't there. I figured this was the end of the line. I'm buying the farm on this trip."

It turned out later, he had left the medal hanging on a knob in the shower stall.

Murphy was flying wing for the flight commander, and the squadron leader was peeling the planes off two at a time to attack the huge Japanese fleet. He was assigning them to the destroyers and cruisers below.

"I was just hoping and praying he wasn't saving the (super battleship) Yamato for me. I was ready for a little rowboat or something."

Instead, Murphy was sent on a strafing run of a heavy cruiser. In the middle of the run, his engine quit, but he was able to change gas tanks and get it started again. The fighters made two more runs, hitting the gun sponsons on the cruisers and shattering the glass front of one ship's superstructure.

Heading back to the Fanshaw Bay, they were informed that they couldn't land on the escort carrier. They headed for a landing base on Samar Island, but found it littered with bomb craters and destroyed airplanes. In desperation, Murphy and the others headed for another airbase further down the island, not knowing if it was in U.S. or Japanese hands.

"We made a pass, and when no one fired at us, we figured it was safe. As soon as we landed, and I got off the plane, an Army guy came running up to me and yelled at me to get my bright yellow Mae West off so I wouldn't be such a target for the Jap snipers."

The strip was just about a mile and a half from the enemy lines, and that night Murphy looked out and saw a dark form slink into a nearby foxhole. "I got my .38 out and, shaking as I was, aimed it in the general direction of that foxhole. The first shot woke everybody else up, and I told them what I saw. We must have fired a hundred rounds at that foxhole.

"When we figured it was safe we crept up and looked in. There was an old mongrel dog in there. And you know what? He didn't have a scratch on him. I got a lot of ribbing later on from guys who wanted to know if I'd seen any snipers lately."8

Ted Murphy was discharged from active duty on December 4, 1945 and received several decorations and WWII service medals.

After the war, he attended the University of Minnesota, earned a Bachelor of Science degree, and continued flying with the NAS Minneapolis “Tailhook” reserve squadron. He retired from US Naval Reserve duty as CDR after twenty-one years of Naval Service.

In 1989 Ted Murphy was instrumental in the then new Twin Cities “Planes of Fame” Association of Naval Aviation, squadron #46. In three years of active membership it exploded to 350 members, with two consecutive annual recruiting awards.

A primary hobby after retirement was his volunteer duty at Flying Cloud Airport's WWII "Planes of Fame" or “Warbirds” Museum. Ted also continued for many years as an avid golfer and “senior” tennis competitor. More recently Ted moved to Friendship Village in Bloomington.

He regularly attends the Wednesday luncheon meetings of the Eighth Air Force Historical Society in Bloomington, which he always says is a highlight of his week because of the interesting people and presentations there.9

Ted has many friends. Always a gracious and polite man, Ted calls the women “Dear” and tells the other Veterans his stories about life in the service. Some of the more intense moments during the war he said he remembers like they had happened a couple of days ago. When it is time to say goodbye, he leaves us with some words of advice. Ted is an authentic American hero and he survived both combat in the Pacific and went on to marry, raise five children, and lead a long and productive life. He reminds us to “Remember to fly low and slow, and keep your nose high in the turns.”



Battle for Leyte Gulf byPhilip A. St. John, Turner Publishing Company - 1996 - 128 pages - on Google Books

“Minnesotans recall the battle“ by Al Zdon, available online at the American Legion‘s “Battle for Leyte Gulf” website:




1. Wolverine:

“USS Wolverine (IX-64) was a freshwater aircraft carrier of the United States Navy during World War II. She had been converted from a paddlewheeler coal-burning steamer to be used for advanced training for naval aviators in carrier take-offs and landings. . . . As the Navy's first side-wheeled aircraft carrier, Wolverine was equipped to handle plane take-offs and landings, a vital duty that she performed for the duration of World War II. She contributed to the war effort in World War II by training hundreds of pilots in basic carrier operations. Problems: Sable and Wolverine were a far cry from front-line carriers, but they were suitable for accomplishing the Navy's purpose: qualifying naval aviators fresh out of operational flight training in carrier landings. The two carriers had certain limitations such as having no elevators or hangar deck. When crashes used up the allotted spots on the flight deck for parking dud aircraft, the day's operations were over and the carriers headed back to their pier in Chicago. Another problem they had to contend with was wind over deck (WOD). Certain WOD minimums were required to land aircraft such as F6F Hellcats, F4U Corsairs, TBM Avengers and SBD Dauntlesses. When there was little or no wind on Lake Michigan, operations often had to be curtailed because the carriers couldn't generate sufficient speed to meet the WOD minimums. Occasionally, when low-wind conditions persisted for several days and the pool of waiting aviators started to bunch up, an alternate system of qualifications was used. The alternate system was to qualify the pilots in SNJ Texans - even though most pilots had not flown the SNJ for four or five months.” From Wikipedia “USS Wolverine (IX-64).”

2. Escort Carrier:

“The escort aircraft carrier or escort carrier (also known as the "jeep carrier" or "baby flattop'"), was a small and slow type of
aircraft carrier used by the British Royal Navy, the Imperial Japanese Navy and Imperial Japanese Army Air Force, and the United States Navy in World War II. They were typically half the length and one-third the displacement of the larger fleet carriers. While they were slower, less armed and armored, and carried fewer planes, they were less expensive and could be built in less time. This was their principal advantage, as escort carriers could be completed in greater numbers as a stop-gap when fleet carriers were scarce. However, the lack of protection made escort carriers particularly vulnerable and several were sunk with great loss of life. The light carrier was a similar concept to escort carriers in most respects, however they were intended for higher speeds to be deployed alongside fleet carriers. Escort carriers were too slow to keep up with the main forces consisting of fleet carriers, battleships, and cruisers. Instead, they were used to defend convoys from enemy threats such as submarines and planes.” (From Wikipedia “Escort carrier.”) “During this period [mid-1943] the Navy began to use a one-two-punch technique against the Japanese. First it used a full fleet and light carriers to attack Japan’s warships and other vessels and landbased airstrips and troop concentrations. At the same time, a combination of TBM/TBF torpedo planes and Curtiss Helldiver bombers destroyed targets of opportunity, and the Hellcats were unleashed on Japan’s aircraft. The second “punch” was delivered in the form of small Jeep carriers that moved in quickly and established air superiority and close air support for ground troops as the larger, faster carriers moved ahead and pushed the Japanese farther north.” (From Joe D. McGraw & James P. Busha “Pacific Fighters” Magazine Nov. 2010.)

3. USS Fanshaw Bay (CVE-70)

“was a
Casablanca-class United States Navy escort aircraft carrier, launched 1 November 1943 by Kaiser Shipbuilding Company, Vancouver, Washington, sponsored by Mrs. J. L. Kenworthy, Jr.; and commissioned 9 December 1943. . . In addition to the Presidential Unit Citation, Fanshaw Bay received five battle stars for World War II service.“ . . . Length: 512 ft 3 in (156.13 m) overall, . . . Aircraft carried 16 × Grumman FM-2 fighters
12 ×
Grumman TBM-1C torpedo bombers” From: Wikipedia “USS Fanshaw Bay (CVE-70)”

4. Wildcats:

Grumman F4F Wildcat was an American carrier-based fighter aircraft that began service with both the United States Navy and the British Royal Navy (as the Martlet) in 1940. Although first used in combat by the British in Europe, the Wildcat was the only United States Navy or Marine fighter in World War II 1941–42 in the Pacific Theater besides the brief appearance of the F2A Buffalo. With a top speed of 318 mph (512 km/h), the Wildcat was outperformed by the more nimble 331 mph (533 km/h) Mitsubishi Zero, but its ruggedness and tactics such as the Thach Weave resulted in an air combat kill-to-loss ratio of 5.9:1 in 1942 and 6.9:1 for the entire war. Lessons learned from the Wildcat were applied to the faster F6F Hellcat which could outperform the Zero on its own terms. The Wildcat continued to be built throughout the remainder of the war to serve on escort carriers, where larger and heavier fighters could not be used.” (From Wikipedia “Grumman F4F Wildcat.”) “While being produced by General Motors, the F4F Wildcat was given a new name and a new set of claws: the FM-2 “Wilder Wildcat” carried a larger engine and less gross weight, so the stubby cat became a real tiger.” (From Joe D. McGraw & James P. Busha “Pacific Fighters” Magazine Nov. 2010.)

5. Heavy Cruisers:

The Japanese Navy’s Center Force began the Battle of Leyte Gulf with six heavy cruisers: Chokai, (lost), Chikuma (lost), Tone (escaped), Kumano (hit by a torpedo from the USS Johnston), Haguro (escaped) and Suzuya (lost).

6. The Battle off Samar:

“Through the first four days of the invasion [of Leyte, in the Philippines, begun October 20,1944], Fanshaw Bay operated off
Samar, launching combat air patrol, antisubmarine patrols, observation flights and drops of psychological warfare material, as well as raids and strikes in direct support of the troops ashore. Warned on 24 October that Japanese surface ships were on the move, she flew off early the next morning all her aircraft to attack the enemy while the escort carriers retired from the threat of the Japanese surface ships, far faster, and with far greater fire power. Just 6 minutes after her planes were ordered away, she came under fire from the Japanese cruisers, and although a heavy rain squall shielded the escort carriers briefly, she soon began receiving hits. By 0855, when she took the third hit, she was under fire from two cruisers and two destroyers, later joined by a third destroyer whose torpedo attack she avoided. All through this battle, the American destroyers fought gallantly to protect their vulnerable charges, and at 0924, the Japanese battle line at last broke formation to avoid an air attack. Later, kamikaze planes attacked and sunk St. Lo. Fanshaw Bay fired effectively in this attack, splashing among others a plane just about to crash into Kitkun Bay. With her screen detached to rescue St. Lo's survivors, Fanshaw Bay shaped her course for Manus, unprotected, and throughout the day landed planes from her sunk or damaged sisters. In this Battle off Samar phase of the Battle for Leyte Gulf, Fanshaw Bay lost four men killed, and four wounded, but won enduring esteem and a Presidential Unit Citation for the distinguished role she played in this and other actions.” From Wikipedia “USS Fanshaw Bay (CVE-70). As Al Zdon has pointed out: “The Battle for Leyte Gulf was one of the major Naval battles of World War II, and was one of the largest battles ever fought in the history of sea warfare. It involved 282 ships and more than 200,000 men.” See: Al Zdon‘s online article “A short history of the battle” at the American Legion‘s “Battle for Leyte Gulf” website: http://www.mnlegion.org/paper/html/letye_gulf.html

7. Eniwetok: An atoll in the Marshall Islands.

8. Al Zdon, “Minnesotans recall the battle“, online article at the American Legion‘s “Battle for Leyte Gulf” website:

         9. Eighth Air Force Historical Society: Knights of Columbus Hall, 1114 American Blvd. W. Bloomington, MN 55420, Phone: (952) 888-1492. The 8th Air Force Historical Society of Minnesota meets each Wednesday from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus Hall on American Boulevard in Bloomington. Website: http://8thmn.org/meetings.html.This organization is much broader in scope than the name might imply. There are many veterans from all services and periods of time, and also non-veterans, who have an interest in history. 
June 08, 2011
I am honored to have met Ted and served with him at the Planes of Fame Air Museum and Association of Naval Aviation Planes of Fame Squadron.

A tribute to Ted ....

All we’ve been given by those who came before. the dreams of a nation where freedom would endure. the working prayers of centuries have brought us to this day. What shall be our legacy. what will our children say. let them say of me. I was one who believed in sharing the blessings I received. Let me know in my heart. When my days are through. America, America, I gave my best to you. Each generation from the plains to distance shore. with the gifts they were given were determined to leave more. Battles fought together. acts of conscience fought alone. These are the seeds from which America has grown. let them say of me I was one who believed in sharing of blessings that I received. Let me know in my heart. When my days are through. America, America , I gave my best to you. For those who think they have nothing to share. Who feel in their hearts there is no hero left. know each quiet act of dignity is that which fortifies. a soul of a nation that will never die. Let them say of me I was one who believed in sharing the blessings I received. let me know in my heart when my days are through. America, America, I gave my best to you.

You left your mark ... you will be remembered as one of the Greatest Generation.

Anchors Aweigh
Mike (Hank's #2 Son) Pyzdrowski,
Minnetonka, Minnesota
June 06, 2011
K Callahan,
Mar 31, 2011, 4:41 PM