David Joseph Murray – Sergeant, United States Army

NEWS RELEASE from the United States Department of Defense
No. 601-05
June 14, 2005

DoD Identifies Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Sergeant David J. Murray, 23, of Clinton, Louisiana, died June 9, 2005, in Baghdad, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his military vehicle. Murray was assigned to the Army National Guard's 1088th Engineering Battalion, New Roads, Louisiana.

15 June 2005:

 Funeral services are scheduled this weekend for a member of the Louisiana National Guard who was killed last week in Iraq.

23-year-old Sergeant David Murray died last Thursday when a bomb exploded under his armored personnel carrier during a patrol in Baghdad.


Visitation for Sergeant Murray will be held this Friday from 5:00pm to 9:00pm at Christian Bible Fellowship Church in Clinton.

Funeral services will be held at the same location the following day, Saturday morning at 11:00.

Sergeant Murray will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. on June 21st.

17 June 2005:

BATON ROUGE – Relatives and military members gathered on the runway at the Baton Rouge airport to meet the casket of an East Feliciana Parish sheriff’s deputy and National Guard soldier killed in Iraq.

Law enforcement officers formed a processional to escort the hearse carrying Sergeant David Joseph Murray, 23, who died June 9, 2005, when a bomb exploded under his armored personnel carrier in Baghdad. Murray was a member of B Company, 1088th Engineering Battalion, 256th Brigade Combat Team.

Murray was also an East Feliciana Parish Sheriff’s deputy and worked part time as a sergeant for the Norwood Police Department. Norwood Assistant Police Chief Ray Chamberlian waited as the sun went down for the plane to arrive Thursday evening. He recalled a young man who was a natural at law enforcement.

“He had it,” Chamberlian said. “He would have been a lieutenant when he came back.”

Chamberlian was one of dozens of local law enforcement officers who gathered to form a processional of cars and motorcycles for Murray. Some, like Chamberlian, knew him. Others, like Baton Rouge Police Officer Brian Harrison, came simply out of respect.

A motorcycle officer, Harrison said news of another Louisiana soldier’s death is hard to take.

“They’re just kids. Just kids,” he said.

After moving from Pennsylvania to Louisiana in 1997, Murray joined the National Guard while he was a junior at Silliman Institute. He attended boot camp after he graduated from high school in 2001.

He lived in the Felixville community, north of Clinton, and was a native of Philadelphia. He is survived by his mother and stepfather, Joanne Spence and John Parker; father, Gary Murray Sr. of Philadelphia; sister, Caitlin Marie Parker of Clinton; two brothers, Gary Michael Murray and Coley Patrick Parker, both of Clinton; and a grandmother, Patricia Lepera of Jeffersonville, Pennsylvania.

Visitation will be from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. today at the Christian Bible Fellowship Church in Clinton and from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday. Funeral services are set for Saturday at 11 a.m. at Christian Bible Fellowship Church. Burial will be at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, Tuesday.

‘There’s still an emptiness'
Coutesy of the Advocate
Published: March 19, 2006

Joanne Parker of Clinton has good memories of her son’s funeral. “I don’t know many people who can say that. There were so many things about the funeral that were an inspiration,” she said.

Parker’s oldest son, Louisiana National Guard Sergeant David Joseph Murray, died June 9, 2005 in Iraq. Murray, 23, a member of Bravo Company, 1088th Engineering Battalion, 256th Brigade Combat Team, died when a bomb exploded under his armored personnel carrier in Baghdad.

It’s been less than a year since Joanne Parker and her husband, John Parker, got the news that Murray was killed in combat. They are thoughtful about the war in Iraq and about how life has changed for them and their three surviving children.

“It still hurts. There’s still an emptiness. It doesn’t get easier, but it changes,” said Joanne Parker of the grief she feels over her son’s death.

John Parker said he doesn’t agree with everything about the war in Iraq, but he thinks U.S. troops should stay and finish the job.

“I do like that we’re bettering their quality of life,” he said regarding the Iraqis.

The Parkers are philosophical about Murray’s death and life.

“His ultimate goal was to be a state trooper,” John Parker said.

Murray joined the Louisiana National Guard when he was a high school junior. In his civilian life, he worked for the East Feliciana Parish Sheriff’s Office and worked part time for the Norwood Police Department.

“He was never scared. He knew the consequences of the life he chose,” Joanne Parker said.

They both said they see honor and dignity in the way Murray lived and died. To some degree, they both agreed that honor and dignity changes the nature of their grieving.

“It’s better than saying, ‘I wish the dopehead hadn’t shot him,’” John Parker said.

They’ve dealt with their grief in private ways, though their community has shown great support.

“The high school retired his football jersey. Things like that get to me,” John Parker said.

Joanne Parker has recently started volunteering as a Soldier Angel, which involves writing to a soldier stationed in combat.

“I wanted to stay connected with the Army,” she said.

Joanne Parker’s not sure whether she would have tried to talk her son out of choosing the military if she could have foreseen September 11, 2001. However, she has no illusions that she would have succeeded.

“What could I have done?” she asked.

And she said she doesn’t think she would dissuade her other children if they wanted to join the military. She points to the top of the blond head of her 10-year-old son, Coley, who sat on the floor next to her chair.

“He says he’s going to go into the Army and kill all the ones who killed David,” John Parker said.

On the subject of Cindy Sheehan, the Parkers disagree.

“She’s a disgrace. This isn’t Vietnam,” John Parker said.

But Joanne Parker feels compassion for Sheehan in spite of the fact she disagrees with Sheehan’s message and method. She sees her as a mother who lost her son.

“I don’t know. You can’t tell someone how to grieve,” Joanne Parker said.

Although it’s been less than a year since Murray’s death, there have been holidays and other milestones. Joanne Parker said the hardest for her was July 4, which came less than a month after her son died.

“I had to get out of the house,” she said.

Murray is buried in Arlington National Cemetery so they haven’t been able to visit his grave often. They have tentative plans for a trip around Memorial Day.

Meanwhile, they stay focused on their surviving children, Gary Murray, who is an LSU junior; Caitlin Parker, 11, and 8-year-old Coley Parker.

“I love him; I miss him,” Joanne Parker said, “You have to move forward.”

Relatives, friends and military officials, gather near the coffin of Sgt. David J. Murray, left, during a funeral ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, Tuesday, June 21, 2005
Joan Parker, center, mother of Sgt. David J. Murray, is handed the U.S. flag that draped her sons coffin, by Major General Bennett Landreneau, left, during a funeral ceremony at the Arlington National Cemetery
A fawn scampers among the headstones at Arlington National Cemetery




While visiting Section 60 On Saturday, 10 May 2008 I met Gary Murray who had driven from Philadelphia to visit his son, David.  Gary is a wonderful man
who told me how much he misses his boy and how he sometimes still wakes up at 1:30 in the morning still thinking that David will be calling from Iraq.  Sadly,
that call never comes.  While Gary does not get to visit David as often as he would like, I promised that I would post these photos so that he could remember this
visit and so that he could “visit” at any time over the Internet.  It was a pleasure to have met you, Gary.  Please know that we will keep you and David in our prayers.

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