Monday, May 28, 2007

Christopher Murphy has services ahead of burial at Arlington

GLADYS - Cpl. Christopher Edward Murphy left a hole in his family when he died May 12, his mother Rosemary Balian said at his funeral Sunday. But those who attended the service to remember him are “filling that hole with love and support and caring.”

Chris lived in Gladys and was a 2004 graduate of William Campbell High School, where hundreds of his friends, family and comrades gathered Sunday to celebrate his 21 years of life.

A member of the 431st infantry battalion stationed out of Fort Drum, N.Y., he was one of four American soldiers killed in an ambush May 12 south of Baghdad, in Iraq.

Three more Americans were captured in the pre-dawn attack. As of Sunday, one had been found dead, and the others were still missing.

On Sunday, Chris’ spirit filled the gymnasium at William Campbell through memories that his loved ones recalled as they told stories about his life.

When Chris was a kid, his older sister Shawna Murphy said, he loved Star Trek and treasured a model of one of the spaceships from the show. Once, when she was mad at him, she destroyed it.

“I meant it then,” she said, her voice cracking. “But I don’t mean it now.”

“I’m going to always remember him for the depth of love he had for the people around him. Christopher was more generous of a heart than anyone had a right to be.”

Rosemary embraced each person who spoke about Chris.

“We love him and care for him even though he will no longer be physically here with us,” she said. “We had 21 blessed years with Chris.”

She and Darryl Balian, Chris’ father, were presented the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart for Chris’ service.

Rob Arnold, principal at William Campbell, gave the family a banner that had hung in the school’s cafeteria for students to sign after the news of Chris’ death.

Because Chris loved football so much when he played for the William Campbell Generals, the school also plans to retire his number, 75, after this year.

A framed No. 75 jersey was displayed in the front of the room before Arnold gave it to Chris’ family.

Some say that the school and playing football affected Chris greatly, Head Football Coach Brad Bradley said. But in actuality, Chris made an impact on the school, he said.

William Bennett, Chris’ brother, held up a set of military dog tags and listed off the set of seven Army values as he spoke of his brother.

Loyalty. Duty. Respect. Selfless service. Honor. Integrity. Personal courage.

“These are all traits that my brother very much possessed,” Wil said. “We truly will have a lifetime of memories.”

Chris would have been proud to see everyone at the service, Wil said. Family, friends, football players, past teachers and a full honor guard filled the gymnasium’s bleachers and honorary seats.

“I can’t tell you how much he would swell up with pride,” Wil said.

Chris’ casket, draped in the U.S. flag, sat as the centerpiece of the room. A collage with photos of Chris through the years rested nearby. Several bouquets of red, white and blue flowers surrounded the front of the gym.

The seven–member honor guard performed a 21-gun salute, and a bugler played the honorary song “Taps” before the group returned to carry out Chris’ casket.

He will be buried at the Arlington National Cemetery Tuesday at 3 p.m.

Cleveland Vassal, Chris’ longtime friend from school, recalled Chris’ good nature.

“To know that our friend will no longer be with us … it leaves a sting in your heart,” he said.

But he was happy to know that Chris died doing what he loved.

“He’s not feeling any more pain,” Vassal said. “He’s happy, and he’s all right.”

From the News Advance

Related Link:
Christopher E. Murphy dies 'of wounds suffered when his patrol was attacked by enemy forces using automatic fire and explosives'