John E. Murphy, M.D.
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January 9, 1935 - July 23, 2013
Dr.John Murphy, 78, of West Covina passed away quietly at his home, surrounded by family on July 23, after fighting a seven month battle with colon cancer.
John Ewing Murphy was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Frederick J. Murphy, a school
principal, and Mary Ewing Murphy, a homemaker. He attended Boston College High School and then majored in Premed at Boston College, graduating in 1956. He attended medical school at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. and graduated Cum Laude in 1960. His medical internship was at Wilford Hall Air Force Medical Center in San Antonio where he was voted Medical
Intern of the Year in 1961.
After attending Flight Surgeon Training at Brooks Air Force Base in San Antonio, he was assigned as Flight Surgeon with a rank of Captain, 5th Bomb Wing of The Strategic Air Command (SAC) at Travis Air Force Base, California, arriving in September 1961. This was the time of the Cold War tension and John was assigned and flew on a number of highly classified missions under "Operation Chrome Dome," which has since been declassified. These missions required flying nuclear armed B-52's on a 24/7 basis just outside of Soviet air space to ensure that the Soviets were aware of our presence and served as a deterrent, with Soviets realizing that any launching of their weapons would result in an immediate response.
Approximately one year after arriving at the 5th Bomb Wing, the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred, creating heightened tension with our airborne response becoming even more tense in nature. The number of airborne nuclear flights was doubled in number. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and the Cuban Missile crisis was averted. However, Operation Chrome Dome continued until 1968 when the Vietnam conflict came to the fore. At that time the bomb racks of the B52-s were converted to carry conventional weapons rather than nuclear armaments and were reassigned to duty in Vietnam. During his Air Force career in SAC, John accumulated over 500 hours of flight time - mostly in B-52's and KC-135 tankers. Of the 500 hours, approximately 100 hours were flying missions carrying nuclear weapons as part of Operation Chrome Dome. During his tenure in the USAF, Captain Murphy flew into many bases within Asia, Southeast Asia and the South Pacific.
Captain Murphy was honorably discharged from the Air Force in 1964 and began his training in surgery. He spent three years in general surgery at Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, and in 1967 was accepted into the Plastic and Reconstructive Program at UCLA. While at UCLA he was the Chief Resident in Plastic Surgery at the VA in West LA, which was associated with the UCLA program. During that time the Tet Offensive took place in Vietnam and John was responsible for the care of many, many severely injured soldiers.
After completion of his training at UCLA, Dr. Murphy entered private practice in West Covina, CA. During that time (approximately 20 years), he was elected at Queen of the Valley Hospital to Chief of Surgical Services and then Chief of the Medical Staff. As part of his specialty in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, he took particular interest in congenital anomalies, especially cleft lip and palate surgery. Based upon this expertise, he was invited to spend two weeks performing reconstructive surgery in the city of Dehra Dun in northern India, which he found very satisfying. He was proud to be elected into the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the California Society of Plastic Surgery and the American College of Surgeons.
In 1988 the Kaiser Medical Center in Fontana indicated that it wished to establish a Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Dr. Murphy and another plastic surgeon from Loma Linda University were chosen to create the new department. The two of them worked tirelessly, frequently operating until 10:00 p.m. The department was so successful that two additional surgeons were hired within two years. It was also at Kaiser that John met the love of his life, Susan Haas, Nurse Anesthetist. They became husband and wife and spent many happy years together.
Eventually, Dr. Murphy retired in 1992 and occupied his time gardening, cooking and traveling. He has visited well over 100 countries.
Dr. Murphy is survived by his beloved wife Susan Murphy of West Covina, brother Monsignor Frederick Murphy of Danbury, Massachusetts, sister Mary (Bill) Burke of Princeton Junction, New Jersey, sons John (Sandy) Murphy of Manhattan Beach, and Brian (Phaedra) of Hermosa Beach, CA., daughters Janice Murphy of Mission Viejo and Anne (Simeon) Miranda of West Covina, grandchildren Kara Murphy, Cameron Miranda, Brendan Miranda, Kainan Miranda, and McKenna Miranda. He was preceded in death
by his parents.
Funeral mass and Celebration of Life will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, July 27 at 10:00 a.m. at Sacred Heart Church, 344 West Workman Avenue in Covina, officiated by John's brother, Monsignor Frederick Murphy. Internment will follow the service at Forest Lawn Covina Hills, 21300 Via Verde Drive, Covina.
Published in San Gabriel Valley Tribune from July 24 to July 25, 2013