Video: War Hero Honored
BOSTON -- Honor. Valor. Bravery.
For most of the family and friends who knew him, these were the qualities embodied by a decorated World War II veteran who gave his life to this country.
Accolades, however, aren't what Col. Bob Murphy lived for. His mission was to secure the legacy of so many who gave their lives alonside him on D-Day, when the U.S. launched the battle that would help end the war.
So, on a warm, fall day on Cape Cod, dozens said goodbye to an old soldier with full military honors -- men in uniform and gun salutes.
Robert Murphy, 83, retired colonel and distinguished member of the 82nd Airborne Division was laid to rest.
In June 1944, he posed with his fellow pathfinders just hours before the great Normandy Invasion on D-Day.
Then only 17 years old, a young Private Murphy would be the first to parachute into France. Using the lights and radar that he carried, the teenage soldier helped guide the invasion that turned the tide against the Nazis.
"The armed enemy was there waiting for them. And they did it without fear. They did it because that's what was asked of them," his daughter Christina Murphy Mazgelis said.
Every year until well into his 60s, Murphy would re-enact his jump. He returned to tiny St. Mere Eglise, the town that honored him by naming the street where he landed Rue Robert Murphy.
Every year the townspeople would remember and celebrate the dashing, aging pathfinder, who was regarded with something nearing adoration.
Even Hollywood depicted Murphy's history-making moment by including it in the epic 1960's film "The Longest Day".
"You know, his generation was leaps and bounds from where we are today. Especially the youth. The idea of giving up their life for their country. Sacrifice and doing what's right for their family at home, their neighborhood, their community," his grandson Ryan Murphy said.
Murphy's funeral had all the military honor and dignity that a true American hero deserved. But as they mourned Murphy, his family worried whether people will remember the feats of the greatest generation.
"It's important for us to keep that memory alive. To say you need to remember these people that allowed you and your family to live a great life and be free," Ryan Murphy said.