By Colleen Flaherty
Fort Hood Herald
Spc. Mike Murray was on his way to develop an intelligence source in Najaf, Iraq, when insurgents attacked his Mine Resistant-Ambushed Protected vehicle with a triple-array explosively formed penetrator.
The self-forging warheads pierced through the vehicle's armor, killing Pfc. driver Joseph England and severely wounding gunner Spc. Charles Lemon. In the aftermath of the blast, the MRAP careened, directionless, until it eventually ran into a structure.
"I didn't know who was hurt or not, so I just starting talking and yelling," Murray said, following his Feb. 1 Purple Heart pinning ceremony at the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment Memorial. "Lemon did respond, so I ran over there and helped him, and talked to him the whole time."
Recalling the combat life-saver skills he'd learned in basic training, Murray applied tourniquets to Lemon's bleeding legs and protected him until help arrived, still unaware of the extent of his own injuries - a shrapnel on his shoulder and backside.
Lemon eventually lost his legs but survived.
Murray, 20, had been in-country for three months, having deployed just days after finishing his advanced individual training. He'd been in the Army for less than two years.
Capt. David Griffith, commander of Maddog Troop, formerly of 3rd "Thunder" Squadron, to which Murray was attached at the time of the incident, credited the soldier with saving Lemon's life. Although the loss of England was tragic, Griffith said, "the potential loss of another soldier would have been twice times as painful."
Brig. Gen. Joseph DiSalvo, Fort Hood and III Corps deputy commanding general, pinned Murray with his Purple Heart. Although the ceremony honored the young soldier's painful sacrifice, he said, it also honored his living out the fourth tenet of the Army creed: "I will never leave a fallen comrade behind."
Murray's mother, Angela Murray of Dallas, traveled to the ceremony with his grandparents, Mike and Ella Weatherford, and his sister, Nicole, 19.
Although Angela Murray was worried when she received word of an incident involving her son, she said, she was proud and not at all surprised to learn the details.
"It's typical of these kids," she said, referring to the soldiers gathered around her son. Of Murray, in particular, she said, "He's always put people ahead of himself."
Contact Colleen Flaherty at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7559. Follow her on Twitter at KDHFortHood.