James S. Murphy – Major General, United States Air Force

Retired March 1, 1978. Died May 11, 2002.

Major General James S. Murphy was Vice Commander of 15th Air Force, Strategic Air Command, with headquarters at March Air Force Base, California. The command is responsible for SAC operations in the Western United States and Alaska. Its mixed force of reconnaissance and bomber aircraft and missiles supports the national strategic deterrence mission.

General Murphy was born in 1922, in Flushing, Ohio, where he graduated from Flushing High School in 1940. He entered Muskingum College, New Concord, Ohio, in September 1940 as a physics major and was in his senior year when he entered the U.S. Army Air Corps in March 1943 as an aviation cadet. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and received his pilot wings at Blytheville Army Air Field, Blytheville, Arkansas, in April 1944.

After completion of B-17 training, General Murphy went to the European theater of operations and was assigned to the 95th Bombardment Group of the 8th Air Force in England. During World War II, he completed a combat tour of duty with 35 missions over Germany.

In October 1945 General Murphy requested inactive duty to enroll at Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, where he received his bachelor of science degree in commerce in 1947.

In June 1948 General Murphy returned to active military duty in the U.S. Air Force and attended the chemical officer course at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi. In September 1948 he was assigned to the 10th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing at Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina, as pilot and wing chemical officer.

General Murphy entered the airborne weaponeer program in 1949 and completed two courses of six months each at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, and Sandia Base, New Mexico. He then was assigned to the 92d Bombardment Wing with headquarters at Spokane Air Force Base, Washington, as a B-29 pilot and special weapons instructor. While with the 92d Wing, he flew 23 combat missions over North Korea in B-29s during the Korean War.

In June 1952 General Murphy was assigned to the 26th Air Refueling Squadron, Lockbourne Air Force Base, Ohio, as a KC-97 instructor pilot and moved with the squadron to Westover Air Force Base, Massachusetts, in 1955. In 1958 he attended KC-135 aircraft transition training and remained with the 26th Squadron as flight commander and instructor pilot. He also served as director of safety for the 4050th Air Refueling Wing. In December 1960 General Murphy became chief of the Standardization Division (KC-135s and KC-97s) for the 4050th Air Refueling Wing at Westover Air Force Base.

In August 1961 General Murphy entered the Command and Staff Course of the U.S. Naval War College at Newport, Rhode Island. He was assigned in June 1962 as air operations officer in the Directorate of Operations, 8th Air Force, at Westover Air Force Base, and stayed in that position until August 1965. While on this assignment he attended Westfield State College during off-duty hours and earned his master’s degree in education.

In September 1965 General Murphy entered the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. After graduation in June 1966, he was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Plans and Operations, as an operations staff officer in the Strategic Division, Deputy Director for Forces.

General Murphy became military assistant to the special assistant to the secretary and deputy secretary of defense in November 1966. In that position, he was the principal military point of contact between the Department of Defense and the White House. In February 1973 he became commander of the 12th Air Division, SAC, with headquarters at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona.

In October 1973 General Murphy was assigned as commander of the 17th Air Division at U-Tapao Royal Thai Navy Airfield, Thailand. He assumed duties as commander of the 20th North American Air Defense Command/Continental Air Defense Command Region and 20th Air Division in August 1974.

General Murphy became commandant of the National War College in August 1975. On August 26, 1976, he assumed last present duties.

He is a command pilot with more than 7,000 flying hours. His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Air Medal with nine oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, and the Distinguished Unit Citation Emblem.

General Murphy’s hometown is Flushing, Ohio.

He was promoted to the grade of major general September 1, 1974, with date of rank May 1, 1972.


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 10/15/1922
  • DATE OF DEATH: 05/11/2002

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