By Frank Perkins
Special to the Star-Telegram
Air Force 1st Lt. Andrew G. Murphy of Fort Worth is one of the reasons Saddam Hussein ran out of palatial hideouts.
Murphy's B-52H squadron hit many of the Iraqi dictator's palaces and known "safe houses" in and around Baghdad, Mosul and Tikrit, his hometown. The raids left Saddam with rubble instead of refuge. "After our missions, he didn't have a home," Murphy said from Minot, N.D., where he is stationed.
"I was serving with the 23rd Squadron, 5th Bomb Wing in Minot when Iraqi Freedom began. We were sent to Fairford AFB outside of London and flew several night missions over Baghdad, Mosul and Tikrit bombing known Saddam hideouts," he said. "We carried 750- and 2,000-pound bombs and cruise missiles, and when our bombs hit there would be these huge light flashes on the ground."
The giant B-52s in Murphy's squadron flew more than 4,000 miles from Fairford to their Iraq targets and back, he said.
Murphy has a degree in physics from Texas Christian University, where he also was the cadet colonel commanding the Air Force ROTC's Detachment 845.
"I was always interested in flying," he said. "I couldn't believe they actually paid people to do it."
In the Air Force, he was one of 50 selected from 900 volunteers to attend the crack EuroNATO Jet Pilot Training Program at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls. "It is such an honor to be selected for that program," said his physician father, G. Fred Murphy. "The nation's astronauts are trainees there as well."
When his father recently joined a reserve unit, Murphy swore him in, an event both men treasure.
Dr. Murphy is so proud of his son that he wrote a poem about him. "He has grown so strong," the poem reads in part, "... So very brave/Whenever asked/He always gave ... I salute you, Sir."
Andrew Murphy flew as co-pilot on the Iraq raids, but that means he was a very busy man. "I was responsible for controlling the aircraft's fuel, communications and running the electronics necessary to maintain contact with the ground and the airborne flight controllers."
He has been selected to begin training with the Army to fine-tune air-to-ground close support. "We'll be going on training missions in the field, developing a sort of 'bombs on call' procedure for the Army. It should be interesting."
And when he's not flying B-52s or eating dust on Army ground maneuvers, he's running, training for the annual White Rock Marathon in Dallas. And he's always working toward his next goal: "I really want to fly the B-2 stealth bomber," he said.
Frank Perkins' Military Notes column appears Tuesdays. firstname.lastname@example.org