James Murphy, 86, was a US Army combat engineer in Germany after World War II. He worked in a coal mine with his father before being drafted in 1953. He went through basic and advanced training and learned to build bridges and airstrips.
He was scheduled to be deployed to Korea, but as he was boarding the ship, a man with a clipboard was calling out names. Murphy was one who was called and told that he was going to Germany, but he never found out why. He worked in Germany, building bridges across rivers. He found guns from the war, still loaded, in those rivers.
He was discharged in 1955 as a private first class. He went back home to West Virginia. He went back to coal mining and then spent some time as a trackman for a railroad company where he laid track. In 1963, he moved his family to Killingly and took a job at the Rogers Corp.
He worked in the production machinery department for 28 years while raising five children with his wife. Murphy likes to visit the RSVP Veterans Coffeehouse in Killingly. He is a member of the Danielson VFW, The Bulletin reported.
Murphy says that the military gave him the chance to experience things he would never have seen otherwise. Being in the military and seeing Europe as a young man changed his mind about things he thought he understood.
He spent time in Germany after WWII when the cities were so destroyed there were not enough buildings standing for them to get out of the rain. He saw one soldier on guard duty jump and land on a mine that took his leg off.