Home » To honor Staten Island Vietnam War hero, two West Brighton taverns will snap handcuffs at bar foot rails to laud Marine Corps major | Inside Out
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To honor Staten Island Vietnam War hero, two West Brighton taverns will snap handcuffs at bar foot rails to laud Marine Corps major | Inside Out

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Fifty-fiveyears ago — on Jan. 31, 1968 — at Hue City, South Vietnam, while trying to reinforce the Military Assistance Command Headquarters there, a U.S. Marine Corps major from Staten Island became a hero.

Walter Michael Murphy Jr.. who grew up in Westerleigh and later settled in West Brighton, graduated from Curtis High School and then Wagner College, was that hero.

His courageous actions while rescuing his wounded men during that battle — a campaign of surprise attacks against military and civilian command and control centers — cost him his life at age 31.

Retired New York Supreme Court Justice Michael Brennan, who served in military intelligence in the U.S. Army as a captain and paratrooper from 1968 to 1969, explains that before leaving for Vietnam, Murphy visited the famous McSorley’s Tavern in Manhattan.

“Legend has it that before New York soldiers, called ‘Dough Boys,’ left to fight in Europe in World War I, they stopped at McSorley’s, ate chicken wings and wrote their names on the bones,” added Brennan, a longtime Brighton Kiwanis member.

The dough boys, mostly Irish, had the bones placed above the bar stating, “I’ll be back for these.” More than half did not return.

Murphy, a major in the U.S. Marines, knowing of this legend, and being a member of the Military Police (MP), took out a set of handcuffs and snapped them on the foot rail of the bar and stated, ‘I’ll be back for these when I return from Vietnam.’”

The handcuffs to this day, are in place exactly where Murphy left them.

Murphy was awarded the Silver Star and a Purple Heart for his heroic actions in protecting his fellow Marines.

His last words were, “God please take care of my Marines.” Murphy buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.

Brennan goes on to explain Walter’s brother Henry “Hank” Murphy, and a committee formed from the ranks of The Brighton Kiwanis Club and the Pvt. Joseph F. Merrell, MOH American Legion Post, will honor Murphy’s memory on Tuesday, Jan. 31.

At 4 p.m. his likeness rendered by local artist William Costello will be placed on the walls of the Randall Manor Tavern and at 6 p.m. at Doc Hennigan’s Tavern in West Brighton.

In addition, a set of handcuffs provided by soon to be retired NYPD DetectiveTim Donnelly will also be snapped at the foot rails in each tavern/restaurant.

Brennan adds, “Special thanks to the two Steves and ‘Day Dream’ at the Randall Manor Tavern and to Doc Craig and Awilda of Doc Hennigan’s.”

“May God take of Walter’s Marines and all our troops and veterans,” continued Brennan. “Walter, rest in peace brave faithful Marine. We will stand your watch tonight,” he added.


Born on Sept. 10, 1936, Murphy joined the Armed Forces and in 10 years of service, he attained the rank of US Marine major. He began a tour of duty in Vietnam on March 21, 1967.

He was studying education at Wagner College when he signed up for the Platoon Leaders Corps, a Marine training program, in 1956.

After graduating from Wagner in 1958 and earning a master’s degree in math, he taught on Long Island.

But he was also a U.S. Marine officer, in the reserves and active duty, and that job was his first love. He entered the Marines and became a demolition instructor at the Marine Corps Base in Quantico, Va.

“His fellow soldiers praised him as a teacher,” said his brother, Hank.

Walter Murphy was promoted to the rank of major in 1967, one year before he was killed in January 1968 in South Vietnam.

He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star and the Purple Heart for his courageous actions in Vietnam. In recognition of his excellence in teaching and gallantry in combat, the demolition range at Quantico bears his namesake.

Source : Silive