Murray’s Military Career, Part 3

I’ve written twice before about Murray Scheshko’s (Murray Castle) military career.

The other day I discovered some new documents that belonged to Murray. The gardener (my husband) didn’t realize we had these papers pertaining to his father’s military career.

I wrote earlier that Murray was in the 353rd fighter group: Murray’s Further Military History and Murray’s U.S. Military History.

One of the new documents I discovered is a discharge paper that states that he was in the 352nd fighter squadron.


So was he in the 353rd or 352nd? Apparently both squadrons worked together and were in England at the same time. Both also finished up their service in New Jersey, but not at Fort Dix as this discharge paper states–at Camp Kilmer instead. Both squadrons were highly celebrated.

In the stack of papers, I found Murray’s “transcript of military record.”

His bronze stars and other awards are mentioned, but not his purple heart. He not only earned a purple heart, but it meant that he received $67 per month for the duration of his life for the injury he sustained.

I found out that the gardener can order information about the bronze stars from NARA (National Archives) in St. Louis. I plan to help him do so this week.

These documents show that when Murray was discharged he was a sergeant. He had had a higher rank, but was in the brig for fighting, so he was demoted. There is a rumor he was AWOL for awhile, too, but none of this is mentioned on these official records.

On the transcript, I was particularly transfixed by the list of “battles and campaigns” he was involved with:

  • Air Offensive Europe
  • Central Europe
  • Normandy
  • Northern France
  • Rhineland
  • Ardennes-Alsace

We are guessing that his time in England would be covered under “Air Offensive Europe.”

According toU.S. ARMY CENTER
OF MILITARY HISTORY
EDUCATE-INSPIRE-PRESERVE
, these are the dates Murray would have been in these areas:

  • Air Offensive Europe – 4 July 1942 – 5 June 1944
  • Central Europe – 22 March – 11 May 1945
  • Normandy – 6 June – 24 July 1944
  • Northern France – 25 July – 14 September 1944
  • Rhineland – 15 September 1944 – 21 March 1945
  • Ardennes-Alsace – 16 December 1944 – 25 January 1945

In general, we knew that he had been in England, and the gardener and I had both heard about his service in Israel after WWII, but neither of us had any idea he was involved in these other battles and campaigns.

The gardener and I were talking about how we wished we had thought to ask Murray questions and interview him about his wartime and other experiences. But, unfortunately, Murray died suddenly of a massive heart attack onboard a flight home from his job in Tupelo to Kalamazoo at the age of 62. We were young and had expected him to be around “forever.”

Murray’s Further Military History

Some time back, I wrote about my father-in-law’s U.S. military history. He was part of a heroic team in WWII. His father Isidore, who had served in both Russian and American militaries, must have been very proud of him. At the end of that post, I mentioned that before Murray settled down, got married, and became a business executive, he made one detour.

I mentioned that Murray experienced anti-Semitism while stationed in England. He was deeply affected by what happened there. At the end of the war, the stories of the death camps and murders of Jews at the hands of the Nazis must have also affected him a great deal.

On 14 May 1948, David Ben-Gurion declared the establishment of the State of Israel–and this time period found Murray in Israel, as an Israeli soldier. He served with a man who became his best friend and eventually his brother-in-law, Jack Blanc. Jack was an older Canadian soldier who was married with one child (at that time).

Although the quality is not the best, here is an AP photo that was published on 16 August 1948 in newspapers all over the United States of Murray and Jack in Israel (Jack’s name is misspelled). As the caption indicates, Murray is second from the right and Jack on the right..

What a lighthearted photo and caption (pin-up photos?) for such a serious mission they were on.

Here is the full page; check out the bottom left:

Murray was always very proud of his service for Israel, but it did take a toll on his life as he wasn’t able to pursue the higher education he so desperately wanted (I think I have mentioned before he wanted to be a lawyer). He was a soldier in Israel when his peers back in the U.S. were going to college and professional school.

After Israel, Murray came back to New York where Jack Blanc introduced him to a pretty art student from Canada named Diana Shulman. Diana was Jack’s wife’s younger sister. Murray and Diana eventually married and had first the gardener and then his sister. Here is Murray with Diana and the gardener.

 

The gardener wasn’t yet gardening at that point, but I imagine he was pretty active and kept his parents on the go.

 

 

 

Murray’s U.S. Military History

Murray Harry Scheshko, the gardener’s father and son of Isidore and Celia, was a highly intelligent, active, and energetic young man who came of age at the time of WWII. He was born on 5 June 1921 and can be found on a U.S. Marines muster roll on 11 January 1940. He was 18 years old.

He was a private, and the listing is alphabetical, so he is about #9 up from the bottom.

Also, on 11 January 1940, this is listed on Ancestry for Murray, but again, no record to go with it: NEW YORK NATIONAL GUARD SERVICE CARDS.

Name: Murray H Scheshko
Birth Date: 5 Jun 1921
Birth Place: Port Chester, New York
Residence Place: New York City, New York
Enlistment Age: 18
Enlistment Date: 11 Jan 1940
Enlistment Place: New York City, New York, USA
Unit: Co A 1st Mar Bn

U.S. Veterans Affairs Death records show Murray as enlisting on 8 January 1941. But 8 February 1941, a month later and a little over a year after the Marines muster list, he is showing as enlisting in the U.S. Army, Airborne division. What happened between the Marines and the Army? Between 1940 and 1941? I don’t know. And I don’t have a document for this as this is text info on Ancestry.

I’ve never heard of this site before, but they have his army serial number listed (12025969) and mentioned he was Air Corps.  For those of you who don’t know, as I did not know, there was no U.S. Air Force before 1947. The air division was part of the U.S. Army.

Murray’s military history must have been extremely interesting. On the one hand, when I was dating the gardener, I was regaled by the gardener and by Murray with stories of how he spent most of his time in the brig for fighting. At one point, I knew how many days he spent, and it was astronomical. On the other hand, he must have spent some time not in the brig because when the gardener was little, his father had a bucketful of military medals, including a Purple Heart. The gardener has rueful recollections of playing with the medals (and possibly cutting up the ribbons) when he was a kid.

What I didn’t know until somewhat recently is that Murray was part of the 353rd Fighter Group that flew bombing missions over occupied Europe. They are considered heroes in England. Murray was not a pilot. He was staff sergeant, an “armourer,” which means that he was in charge of the weapons for the group. There are websites online devoted to the group, and Murray is mentioned in them.

American Air Museum

353rd Fighter Group

I have also been given some photos of the group with Murray in them.

Murray is standing, on our left.

Murray on our right

Were the brig stories exaggerated? Or was he able to be a hero in between his fights? By way of explanation about the fighting, I will mention that during the time that Murray was stationed in England he experienced a great deal of anti-Semitism which tainted his time with the English.

I am posting a photocopy of a pic of Murray with other soldiers in the U.S. Army in case someone finds this blog post and recognizes someone in the photo.

Murray was a gentleman and a good father, but there were some vestiges of him as a “tough guy” throughout his life. He always dreamed of being an attorney (and loved his copy of Black’s Law Dictionary), but the opportunity didn’t happen for him. Instead, he became Plant Manager and VP of Research and Development for Dr. Denton (yes, the pjs with feet) and Lambknit sweater mill (southwestern Michigan).

After his American military career, instead of going to school or settling down, and before he became a business executive, Murray took one detour. To be continued at some point.