Army Staff Sergeant Luke Murphy was the Squad Leader of an 11 man Reconnaissance Team with the 187th Infantry Regiment, a component of the 101st Airborne Division, on his second deployment when he lost his right leg above the knee and severely injured his left leg in an explosively formed penetrator (EFP) blast in Sadr City, Iraq on April 25, 2006.
While leaving Sadr City at one o’clock in the morning after searching through a landfill area where bodies were reported to be buried, SSG Murphy was riding in the second vehicle when a bomb detonated after the vehicle’s bumper crossed a garage door opener laser. Four shape charge explosives simultaneously ripped through the armor of the vehicle, seriously injuring those inside. SSG Murphy’s right leg was traumatically amputated, his left leg was severely injured in the blast. With the brake line severed, and the transmission disabled by the blast, the vehicle continued traveling down the road; fire heating the interior and exploding the ammunition.
SSG Murphy instructed the driver to crash the vehicle in an attempt to save those inside. Trapped in the wreckage, SSG Murphy forced open his door, shouldering it off of its hinges. Falling to the ground, he began low crawling away from the truck. While 50 Cal rounds were detonating and with flames all around, the driver of the vehicle began a valiant attempt to save Luke’s life. Thinking his squad leader was still in the truck, and risking his life to attempt entry, the driver finally was able to hear Luke yelling to him, alerting him that he was out of the vehicle and needed medical attention. Dragged to safety and with tourniquets applied by the Medic and his team, Luke started drifting into an unconscious state, visions of his mother filling his head as his team tried to keep him awake.
Transported by truck, and thanks to the lifesaving measures by his men, 18 minutes after the blast SSG Murphy was in a field hospital being prepared for medevac to the Baghdad ER where he received several units of blood. Stabilized for transport to Landstuhl, Germany, SSG Murphy arrived at Walter Reed Army Medical Center within days of his injuries and remained there for a year enduring nearly thirty surgeries. SSG Murphy is grateful for the support he has received from the Tallahassee community.
Luke enjoys spending time with his wife Stephanie, being outdoors and outdoor activities such as gardening, hunting, and fishing. In August 2020, Luke and Stephanie became parents to a baby boy, Rory. A graduate of Florida State University, Luke enjoys attending FSU Football games and cheering on his alma mater. A real estate agent and a nationally recognized motivational speaker, Luke also works with injured Veterans, sharing his positive attitude and helping others to transition to their new normal.
Since moving into his home in February 2014, Luke has become a partner at Southern Land Realty and coauthored a book “Blasted by Adversity.”
Luke has also endured three more surgeries and says his home has made the recovery so much more bearable. “My home is truly the only place I can move freely and in total comfort. It has been a wonderful place to heal, grow and move forward. I will always be grateful to HFOT for building my home, which empowered me to rebuild my life,” he says.
PFC Ian Edge, Retired, is a decorated veteran of Afghanistan. On an over-watch mission, Ian’s Platoon leader stepped on a pressure plate IED which resulted in the double amputation of his legs. The actions of PFC Edge saved the life of his First Lieutenant and resulted in his Award for Valor for his personal courage.
On June 24, 2011, PFC Edge was on a mission with the 3rd Platoon in Afghanistan. During the mission, PFC Edge stepped on a pressure plate IED that resulted in the loss of his right leg at knee level, soft tissue damage to his left leg and the amputation of part of his left hand. Luckily, he remained conscious and was able to direct members of his Platoon through his emergency treatment as well as that of another soldier injured in the blast.
After six months of rehabilitation, PFC Edge completed the 13-mile course of the Bataan Death March and was approved to reassign to a Warrior Transition Unit closer to home in Ft. Benning, GA. In August 2013, PFC Edge officially retired from the Army.
Tina Reason believes these men and
women deserve respect and attention so they can succeed after their military
life ends. She has dedicated her life to helping veterans through her work with
Sacred Soil for Veterans, coordinating their community service hours and liaising
with partner organizations. Tina’s passion for veterans is inspiring. “Veterans
have always had a huge place in my heart,” Tina explained. “My dad, two uncles
and an aunt served in the Navy. My son is also a sergeant in the Marine Corp.”
But, it was 9/11 that brought it home for Tina. “Like many, I remember exactly where I was and how I felt. It was traumatic, chaotic and revealed our vulnerability. It made me want to make a difference. Our military and first responders should receive the same level of commitment from us, as they gave to our nation.”
Tina started working with veterans nine years ago. “My goal is to identify what’s going on that is impeding their ability to succeed and help them get the support they need, whether it’s housing, food, furniture, clothing, gas cards, legal assistance—there is nothing I won’t do that is within my power to help.”
As a young man of 21, living in Axtell, Nebraska, Daniel could no longer ignore the calling to stand in solidarity with our military. He enlisted in the Navy, where he served from November 2003 until November 2008 as a Parachute Rigger, carrying out much of his duties on the flight deck of an air craft carrier. Daniel served honorably & was the recipient of the following medals: Navy Good Conduct/ National Defense Service/ Global War on Terrorism Service/ Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary/ Sea Commendation/and Navy Achievement Medal.
Daniel then made the decision to transition to the Army through the “Blue to Green” program, where he served from November 2008 – September 2012. He was deployed to Afghanistan in May 2011. He was tasked with convoy security for logistics in Motor Transport Operations. In August 2011, Daniel witnessed an IED blast that resulted in the loss of two soldiers. April 2012, his unit was tasked with the recovery of a downed helicopter (collecting personal artifacts and remains.) During his time in Afghanistan, Daniel was within range of 15 blasts radius. He was awarded a Bronze Star/ Afghanistan Campaign Medal w/Campaign Star/Arm Achievement Medal/Army Good Conduct Medal/ Global War on Terrorism Medal/ Korean Defense Medal/ Overseas Service Ribbon/ NATO Medal.
Daniel is the embodiment of a hero and, we would be remiss if, we did not share that our Hometown Hero is now a disabled Veteran who battles everyday with the invisible wounds of war, PTSD, TBI and acute anxiety disorder. Additionally, in July 2018, a tumor was found on his brain, unfortunately doctors were only able to remove nearly 50% of it. Results of the surgery have left him deaf in his left ear, severe balance issues and limited motion of the left side. The remainder of the tumor, is entangled with his brain stem and he is set for another extremely complicated surgery in the near future. We ask for your prayers as Daniel continues to fight his medical battles.
Daniel has is the proud father of three boys, 6 year old “Hank” and 5 year old twins (Cash & Finn).
Mr. Julius Fisher, born 07/17/1922 was a World War II veteran. As a youth, he grew up in Leon County and enlisted in the Army at a young age. While serving as a soldier, he was part of the Allied invasion of Normandy in the 182nd Airborne Division (Company A).
Fisher also fought in the Battle of the Bulge and helped liberate the Dachau concentration camp and earned many honors for his service.
After the war, Fisher said he settled back home in Gadsden County, where he went back to high school to get his diploma. He then went on to FAMU where he earned his degree. Fisher later met his beautiful wife and became the first principal at Pine Park Elementary School in Havana Florida. Mr. Fisher was preceded in death by his loving wife, Pleasant Mae Atkins Fisher of Quincy, Florida. Mr. Fisher passed away on July 15, 2021.
As a soldier with the 104th Infantry Division during WWII, at 18 years old, Private First Class Bryce Thornton found himself disarming mines and booby trapped buildings across Europe until war’s end. He cleared explosives from a notorious bridge, assisted in the liberation of a Nazi slave labor camp and befriended a 6 year old boy named Hans who lost his entire family in the war.
In 1944, as a young draftee from Ohio, Mr. Thornton as a member of the Timberwolf Division, was deployed to France. Thornton’s unit traveled to assume defensive positions near the Belgian-Dutch border on October 23, 1944 and waited for word to attack. They were positioned in the northern sector during the Battle of the Bulge where they endured sub-freezing temperatures and rain during one of the coldest winters on record. The Germans made heavy use of mines in their efforts to thwart the advancing Allies. Thorton helped clear the famous Ludendorff Bridge at Ramegan as well as endure the Nazis invasion of homes in the industrial city. In April 1945, teamed with the 3rd Armored Division, Thornton and his comrades entered into Mittlebau-Dora Concentration Camp. More than 5,000 corpses were stacked like firewood while the surviving prisoners wrapped their emaciated arms around the GI’s. The survivors of these concentration camps thought they would die working in the tunnels of the Nordhausen Camp. Now thanks to the soldiers, they were free. Upon returning home, Bryce Thornton resumed life and buried the memories of the war. Thornton, made his way to Tallahassee and worked with the Bureau of Prisons. Bryce married Helen, of 64 years (d.2019). Thornton and his family have since returned to Bitterfeld over the years and met Hans again as an adult in 2006 and stayed in touch until Hans’ death in 2008.
William Harold Dean served in WW II as a paratrooper for the 517th Parachute Regimental Combat Team, Company D. Billy Dean was one 4 brothers who served in WWII. Harold Mason Dean lost his life serving in the armed forces in France and Robert L. Dean lost his life in the North African Campaign in the battle of Tunisia. Maston Dean served in the Army Air Forces at Bainbridge.
Billy Dean was a native in Quincy, Florida and maintained a band called the Country Rocks.
Born in Fennville, Michigan, Irving Felker joined the Army upon his draft notice in 1943 He was assigned to Rifle Company, 309th Infantry Regiment, 78th Division. In September of 1944, during World War II, Irving, along with the rest of the Division, left New York on the 12-day voyage to Europe and eventually landing in Le Havre, France. There in France, the Division moved through Belgium, onto Holland and then into Aachen, Germany.
Facing heavy artillery around Kesternick, Irving’s Company engaged in the Battle of the Bulge at the Ardennes during one of the coldest winters of the war. On January 12, 1944, the German’s conducted a counter offensive. As his Company moved near Kesternik they received heavy rifle and machine gun fire with nonstop house to house fighting when a round ricocheted off Irving’s helmet during the battel, his first close call. It was the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge.
In one battle Irving and another buddy were battling it out with a bazooka against a German machine gun nest. His buddy was hit in the left shoulder and arm just as they fired. Irving’s second close. Right after that their Company had to fall back as the Germans rained down heavy artillery fire in their area.
On another occasion Irving was manning a radio in a pill box captured from the Germans. The Company Commander needed to leave and check on something outside the pill box and Irving ask if he needed to go with him? The Commander told him no, to stay by the radio. The Commander was shot and killed a short time later by rifle fire. Irving’s third close call.
Another time he was manning another radio post when another buddy asks if he wanted to be relieved for a while to get some rest. Irving said he was fine, but his buddy insisted. Just as Irving left and laid down in a bunker a mortar shell landed in the pill box killing is buddy. His fourth close call.
On January 12, 1945, the Germans mounted a counterattack in the Ardennes with heavy 88 mm rounds of anti-aircraft, artillery, and mortar fire. And Irving’s luck just ran out. He was hit in the shoulder and back with shrapnel and wood from a tree that exploded when the shell hit. He could not get medical attention right then, so they had to walk back to Regimental Headquarters where they were taken to France.
While healing the hospital was hit by a buzz bomb, throwing him out of bed and reopening his wounds.
After recuperating in Paris, France and Oxford, England hospital, Irving returned to his old Company in April of 1945, and in May of 1945 Germany surrendered.
PFC Felker was honorably discharged on January 27, 1946.
He received commendations for outstanding service to his country including:
Purple Heart, Bronze Medal and Three Battel Stars for the Battle of Europe, Rhineland, the Ardennes
Major Haynes is a native of Florida, he was born on Feb. 6, 1930 in Madison, Fl., Maj. Haynes lived in Madison until he was 6 yrs. old, the family then moved to Venice / Nokomis, Fl. where he lived until he joined the Marine Corps in 1945 at the age of 15. After boot camp he joined the 1st Marine Division in North China in December 1945. The 1st Marine Division was sent to China to accept the surrender of the Japanese Army. After this was completed the marines became involved in the Chinese Civil War. The Marines were also responsible for keeping the railroad open between North China and Manchuria. The Chinese communist continually attempted to destroy the railroads and bridges in order to prevent the Nationalist Chinese from being able to transport coal from the coal mines to the South. Coal was the life blood for the people in North China, without it there would be no production of any kind, and the people would freeze. Maj. Haynes remained in China for two years.
Maj. Haynes was then stationed in Quantico, Va. With the 22nd Marine Infantry Regt. In 1949 as Sgt. E-4 He was selected for duty at Marine Barracks 8th & Eye, Washington D.C. with the Marine Corps Ceremonial Detachment. Maj. Haynes was selected for Staff Sgt E-5 and then saw duty in Korea with the Ist Marine Division where he served as a Platoon Sgt and acting Platoon Commander for a period of 13 months, during this period he was promoted to Tech Sgt. E-6.
He was wounded in action in Korea and received the Purple Heart and Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Combat “V” for his service. Upon returning to the States he was stationed at MCB Quantico, Va., with duty at the Marine Corps Development Center, where he served as the NCOIC of the Mine Field / Obstacle Breaching Section, testing methods and techniques for breaching Mine Fields and obstacles. Maj. Haynes also attended Explosive Ordnance Disposal School at Indian Head, Maryland while assigned at Quantico. Maj. Haynes was then assigned to the Marine Corps Engineer School, Camp Lejeune, N.C. as NCOIC of Demolition & Mine Warfare School, This assignment was as a result of a training accident where three Marines were killed and four seriously injured, The Marine Corps then placed a requirement that the Officer in Charge and NCOIC of the Demolitions & Mine Warfare School be experienced combat Engineepand be school trained Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technicians During this tour of duty at Camp Lejeune, Maj. Haynes was selected for Master Sergeant, 1st Sergeant and Warrant Officer (Gunner). As a Gunner, he went back to EOD School for recertification in both conventional and Nuclear Weapons, EOD, was then assigned to the Fleet Marine Force Western Pacific, ie Okinawa, Korea, Borneo, Thailand and Philippines.
Maj. Haynes was next assigned as the Base EOD Officer Quantico, Va. for duty , His next tour of duty was as an Instructor and Officer in Charge of the Nuclear Weapons section at EOD School, Indian Head, Md., followed by a tour as the Marine Corps Representative at the Navy EOD Technical Facility, Indian Head, MD. Maj. Haynes was selected for 2nd Lieutenant during this tour and was then assigned to Fleet Marine Forces Western Pacific for duty in Viet Nam as the Force EOD Officer for all Marine Units in Viet Nam, after a 13 month tour in Viet Nam, Maj. Haynes returned to Naval EOD School, as the Marine Detachment Commander.
In January 1970 Maj. Haynes, then a Captain was reassigned to Fleet Marine Forces 'Western Pacific where he served as the 3rd MAF EOD Officer for Viet Nam, Thailand and Okinawa (3rd MAF = 3rd Marine Amphibious Force). Upon completion of this tour of duty Maj. Haynes was once again assigned back to Naval EOD School, Indian Head. MD. As the Marine Corps Representative, and as the Commander of the Marine Detachment.
Maj Haynes retired from Active duty in 1975 and completed his college at the University of Maryland, where he earned a BS Degree, He then earned a Masters Degree at Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, Michigan: He then worked for 17 years in the Navy Trident Submarine Program. He served for 2 years at the Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, DC, and 15 years as the Naval Seas System Command Trident Submarine Coordinator, Eastern Test Range, Cape Canaveral, Fl. Since retiring, Maj. Haynes has served as a volunteer Service Officer, with the Disabled American Veterans, Dept, of Florida
Nomination of Major John L. Haynes, U.S. Marine Corps (Retired)
I am honored to nominate Major John L. Haynes, U.S. Marine Corps (Retired), for induction into the Florida Veterans' Hall of Fame. Major Haynes served his country as a U.S. Marine from 1945 until 1975 when he received an honorable discharge. He served in the Infantry, as a Combat Engineer and as a Master Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Technician. His military service took him to the Asiatic Pacific, North China during the Chinese Civil War, Korea, Viet Nam, Okinawa, Japan, Borneo and many other foreign countries. Major Haynes held every enlisted rank from Private to First Sergeant, and served as a Commissioned Warrant Officer with the official designation of Marine Gunner.
Major Haynes was awarded the Silver Star Medal, the nation's third highest combat decoration for Conspicuous Gallantry in action against an armed enemy in Viet Nam. His other decorations and awards include the Purple Heart Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Gold Star and Combat "V", the Combat Action Ribbon, Cross of Gallantry, Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal, China Service Medal, World War Two Victory Medal and a number of other personal and Unit Awards.
Advocacy on Behalf of Veterans:
• While in Maryland in 1978, Major Haynes served as Deputy District Governor for the Lions Club International. During that time, he was honored to receive the Distinguished Citizen of Maryland Award by the Governor of the State of Maryland.
• In 1979 Major Haynes served as State Commandant of the Maryland Marine Corps League.
• In 2006, Major Haynes was 1st Vice President of the Military Officers Association. Also in 2006, he was a Director of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Foundation and Chairman of the Charter EOD Memorial Committee. He has also served as 3rd, 2nd, 1st, Senior, and State Commandant of the Florida Disabled American Veterans.
• Major Haynes has served for 20 years as a Service Officer for the Veterans Administration and the American Legion. He is also the Florida State Service Officer of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and was awarded the title of Service Officer of the Year.
• In 1993-1994, Major Haynes was All State Post Commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars for the State of Florida and was District Commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in 1995. He was also National Aide-de-Camp of the Veterans of Foreign Wars for two years and served on the National Scouting Committee.
Current Contributions on Behalf of Veterans:
• Major Haynes is currently a member of the Arthur R. Meyer, Jr. Marine Corps League, Detachment 472, in Tallahassee, Florida. I am also a member of this Detachment and have personally observed his commitment to Florida veterans and their families.
• Currently he is Chairman of the Florida Veterans Foundation, serving the Foundation since its creation by the Florida Legislature on July 9, 2008.
• Major Haynes is Senior Vice Commander of the Florida Purple Heart Chapter and also serves as the State Service Officer. He has conducted several hundred military funerals on behalf of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans and the Military Order of the Purple Heart.
• Major Haynes is frequently invited to speak at civic functions such as at the Elks Club on Memorial Day 2013. He was recently recognized by Worldwide Who's Who as Executive of the Year for 2013 representing the veterans services industry. He received a plaque and certificate signed by Richard Someck, Vice President of Worldwide Who's Who.
• In 2012 Major Haynes was selected to serve as Grand Marshall of the Veterans Day Parade in Tallahassee.
• Major Haynes now spends most of his time helping disabled veterans and their families after they are denied benefits from the Veterans Administration. An article in the Tallahassee Democrat by Bob Gabordi, Executive Editor, on April 9, 2006, commends Major Haynes for "working through the system, cutting red tape and getting answers for the disabled veterans."