Trooper Michael Murphy Scholarship

Researched by Kyra Heiker, Alaska State Troopers Anchorage

Copyright 1996 by Kyra Heiker and Alaska State Troopers. Reprinted here with their kind permission. Thanks also to Cpl. Patrick L. Hames, Alaska State Troopers (Ret.), Executive Director of the Fraternal Order of Alaska State Troopers (F.O.A.S.T.), Anchorage, for his help with Trooper Michael Murphy and for bringing this article to our attention.

Trooper Michael Murphy was born in Cork City, Ireland, on February 9, 1928, and enlisted in the Irish Navy when he was 16. After World War II, he joined the Royal Air Force Police and served three years in Malaya and the Far East before joining the Liverpool Police. In 1951, Murphy returned to Malaya as a lieutenant in the Malayan Constabulary and served there until 1954 when he was invalidated out of the service due to gunshot wounds.

Mike Murphy came to the United States in 1954 as an immigrant sponsored by a distant relative in Boston. He came to Alaska in 1961 and joined the Alaska State Troopers in July 1962. Murphy was a credit to his profession and served it well as a trooper in Anchorage and Seward. He was the resident trooper in the Seward area from 1964 until September 1966 following an incident that occurred during the March 1964 earthquake in Alaska. Murphy was on patrol on the Seward highway, which connects that port city with Anchorage.

After the earthquake, which completely demolished the highway and stranded his patrol car, he received a radio message to proceed to Seward as rapidly as possible since the city had been devastated by the tidal wave which followed the earthquake. Leaving his car in the vicinity of a landslide, he proceeded on foot for the remaining 19 miles; crossing over collapsed bridges and destroyed roadways until he finally reached the city nine hours later. He felt his duty was even greater than his concern for his family in Anchorage. He was the recipient of a commendation for special praise, which appeared in the United States Senate Journal on May 2, 1964.

Murphy's service with the Alaska State Troopers was always above reproach. He frequently mentioned the deep appreciation he felt toward the United States for his citizenship, and felt he had a debt to repay. It was this feeling which motivated him to submit an application for a leave of absence in 1966 and accept a position as a police advisor with the Office of Public Safety (AID) in South Vietnam. Because of Murphy's previous experience in jungle campaigning against insurgents, he was uniquely qualified for this assignment. Murphy corresponded regularly with many of his trooper friends in Alaska and it was hoped he would return in August 1968. In his last letter, which arrived two weeks before his death, he said he thought he should remain until 1969. Under our regulations, Murphy would have been eligible for reinstatement as a trooper if he had returned before the expiration of the 3-year leave period.

Trooper Murphy was killed in action while leading a patrol for the South Vietnamese Police Field Forces approximately 19 miles south of Saigon on May 22, 1968, at 9 p.m. Trooper Murphy had taken a detachment from a fortified police compound to set up a night ambush against the Viet Cong. Instead, his patrol was ambushed and Murphy was fatally wounded. To all of his many friends in Alaska, his death came as a personal blow. Because of Trooper Mike's love for Alaska, his body was returned here from Vietnam and buried with full honors in Seward on June 4,1968.

"I have always felt that dying is the only certainty in this life and therefore is of little consequence. What really matters is how a man dies and the reason or cause for which he dies," Murphy wrote to friends in Seward.

The Police Medal of Valor was awarded posthumously to Murphy and was presented to his widow, Alice Murphy, on October 25, 1968, by Commissioner of Public Safety Mel Personett and Chief Pat Wellington.

The Scholarship Loan:
Through the efforts of Murphy's fellow troopers and our legislators, Alaska Statute 14.43.250-310 was passed to provide the Michael Murphy Scholarship Loan and Grant Fund. It is to assist Alaskan college students in the field of law and law enforcement. A Michael Murphy Memorial Scholarship loan may be used only to pursue a degree program in an accredited college or university in law enforcement, law, probation and parole, penology, or closely related fields. .

The fund is supported by State employees donating a day or more of annual leave per year. This money is put into a revolving fund and is administered by the Alaska Commission on Post Secondary Education, Student Financial Aid. The selection is dependent on the student's need and the student's desire to pursue a law enforcement career. All that needs to be done is to fill out a leave slip, mark the box titled "other", and enter "Michael Murphy Scholarship" under "Leave donated to." The Department of Administration then pays to the account an amount equal to the value of the total number of days leave that have been contributed. The donor can, of course, list this same amount as a contribution on his or her annual income tax preparation. Donations are not limited to State employees. Anyone desiring to do so may contribute cash. Checks or money orders should be forwarded to: Memorial Scholarships, Alaska Commission on Post Secondary Education, 3030 Vintage Boulevard, Juneau, Alaska 99801-7109, (800) 441-2962 or (907) 465-2962.

Recipient selections will depend on the applicant's application, applicant's desire to pursue a law enforcement career, and an interview with an Alaska State Trooper. One thousand dollar scholarship loans will be awarded each year, limited to funds available.

Student Eligibility:
A student is eligible to apply if the following requirements are met: (a) an Alaska resident for at least two years immediately prior to filing; (b) high-school graduate or the equivalent; ( c ) will be a full- time student; ( d) will be in good standing; ( e ) the school is approved or accredited by a regional or national agency; (f) is in a career vocation-technical or associate or baccalaureate or graduate degree program; (g) student financial need exists; (h) loan will be used only to pay for tuition, required fees, room, board, and books; (i) loan request does not exceed (per year) $1,000 for an undergraduate or $1,000 for a graduate degree program; j) request does not exceed the requirement that loans may not be made to any student for more than six (6) years, and; (k) student is pursuing a degree in law enforcement, law, probation and parole, penology, or other closely related field.

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