On Jan. 5, 1945, Private Thomas Murray was killed in a firefight with Nazi troops while protecting his commanding officer at the Battle of the Bulge. Murray was only 21 years old when he died serving his country during World War II.
Murray joined the U.S. Army on July 9, 1942, just after graduating from Glen Cove High School. He joined the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, part of the 82nd Airborne Division, where he participated in the invasion of Normandy, the liberation of the Netherlands and the Battle of the Bulge as an elite paratrooper.
Murray was not only a member of the army, but an established sports writer. Beginning in the spring of his senior year in high school, he covered high school sports all across Long Island for the Nassau Daily Review-Star of Rockville Centre. However, Murray proved he could write about topics outside of the sports realm. In 1941, he won an essay contest on the Bill of Rights, which was sponsored by the Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A.
The City of Glen Cove honored his service to America by dedicating the street where he grew up, on Craft Avenue, in his name. Many family members, veterans and council members were in attendance for the event on Sunday, June 24.
“He was a true hero,” Glen Cove’s director of Veteran’s Affairs Anthony Jimenez said. “(Murray) was young, bold and daring as an elite paratrooper. It takes a special kind of person to float down from a parachute with the enemy firing at you.”
In a bio compiled by relative Dr. Paul Devlin, Lt. Douglas Gray sent a letter to Murray’s brother following his death.
“Private Murray’s performance in the Normandy, Holland and Belgium-German campaigns was outstanding,” Gray wrote. “His S-2 activities found him participating in hazardous missions, over and beyond the call of duty.”
The event featured the Pledge of Allegiance, remarks from family members and Councilmembers Joseph Capobianco and Pamela Panzenbeck, and Councilwoman Marsha Silverman read his bio at the unveiling of the street sign. Murray’s niece Maureen Tracy said that one moment was particularly special to her.
“(Jimenez) gave a salute and Amelia Weck played ‘Taps’ on her bugle,” Tracy said. “That was really special and a terrific moment for our entire family.”
Tracy has had a positive relationship with Silverman after she worked with her on her campaign for councilwoman. Silverman told Tracy that her wife, Roni Epstein, had an uncle who was killed as a medic during the Battle of the Bulge, sharing a special connection.
Tracy said that her mother would travel frequently to Manhattan to greet returning paratroopers and ask if they knew her brother. She was able to tell that they were paratroopers by their jump boots.
The City of Glen Cove’s public relations officer, Lisa Travatello, was in contact with Murray’s cousin, Betty Matthews-Vienne, regarding the ceremony. Travatello then put her in touch with Jimenez, who hosted the event. Matthews-Vienne was given a commemorative street sign to keep.
Mayor Timothy Tenke noted how important it is for the city to honor its veterans.
“It is imperative to pay homage to those who lost their lives fighting to maintain our country’s freedoms,” Tenke said in a press release. “By making the ultimate sacrifice at the Battle of the Bulge, we want to always remember our hometown hero Private Thomas Murray with a special memorial street sign in his honor.”
This isn’t the first time that someone or something was named after Murray. Tracy’s cousin, Rich Murray, named his son Tommy in honor of Pvt. Murray. Rich’s son is currently a member of the Air Force.
Tracy was filled with gratitude for the city for dedicating Craft Avenue in her uncle’s name.
“It was such a lovely and well-orchestrated event,” Tracy said. “It brought many family members together, some I had never met before that day. I am so thankful to the city for honoring my uncle. It made me very proud.”