CSM Joseph Michael Murray, Son Tay raider, passes

| January 3, 2018 | 37 Comments

The Fayetteville Observer reports that retired Command Sergeant Major Joseph Michael Murray has passed at the age of 73.

The 73-year-old veteran was a 26-year-old sergeant first class when he volunteered for the famed Son Tay Raid into what was then North Vietnam on Nov. 21, 1970.

Command Sgt. Maj. Murray was one of 56 service members who participated in the raid, meant to rescue 70 American prisoners of war being held at a prison camp near Hanoi.

While the raiders seized the compound after a fierce firefight, the prisoners were nowhere to be found, having been moved months before the mission due to heavy flooding in the area.

While not a success in and of itself, the raid was a tactical victory and set the groundwork for increased cooperation between special operations forces and the creation of Joint Special Operations Command, which oversees the nation’s most elite units from Fort Bragg.

Command Sgt. Maj. Murray earned a Silver Star for his role in the raid, during which he was shot in the leg.

Much more about CSM Murray at the link above.

Thanks to Cranky1 for the tip.

Category: We Remember

Comments (37)

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  1. ChipNASA says:

    Gee, so many Phonies claim to be part of the 56 that were involved in this mission, I was starting to this it didn’t really happen.
    /sarc
    //RIP Hero

  2. Combat Historian says:

    Most all of the Son Tay raiders were already veterans of SOG, Mike Force, SIGMA, A-Teams, etc. who jumped at the chance to rescue POWs. They were the REAL DEAL, 2 or 3 times over.

    Rest in Peace, CSM…

  3. Jim Merrill says:

    I knew one of the other Raiders, CSM Galen Kittleson. Unfortunately, he is gone also. When these heros die, part of American history is gone also. RIP CSM Murray, say Hi to CSM Kittleson for me.

  4. Graybeard says:

    Another good man passes on. Thank you for your sacrifices, CSM Murray.

  5. AW1Ed says:

    Fair winds and following seas, CSM Murray.

  6. RGR 4-78 says:

    Rest in Peace, Command Sergeant Major Joseph Michael Murray, you have earned it.

  7. Atkron says:

    I’ll be really honest here…I have never heard of this raid until just now.

    Does anyone know offhand if there are any books written about this?

    Fair Winds And Following Seas Command Sergeant Major Murray.

  8. Ex-PH2 says:

    Rest in Peace, CSM Murray. Live to fight another day.

  9. Tallywhagger says:

    Whoever made his portrait did a great job. You’d like the guy even if you had never met him.

  10. MustangCryppie says:

    RIP CSM Murray.

    I have a question about Son Tay. Years ago, I worked for MG Eldon Bargewell on a CTF in Germany. Not that he would know me if he tripped over me, but I met him a few times and briefed him a couple of times.

    I instinctively liked the man. He didn’t throw his rank in your face. He let his character and his record speak for him.

    Anyway, I know he was awarded a DSC for a LRRP patrol he was on in Vietnam, but I also heard that he was on the Son Tay raid and that he was a founding member of Delta Force. He never said that, it was just the scuttlebutt.

    I have always been curious if those rumors were true. Can anyone confirm them? I can’t find anything anywhere on the net.

  11. sj says:

    RIP CSM Murray

    I can’t answer your question Mustang but want to observe, once again, that it is the folks that really did the stuff that never talk about it. I served under and had many meals with a Band of Brother (Salve Matheson, http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/shmatheson.htm) and never knew he did anything in WW2 or Korea until I saw the series.

    • MustangCryppie says:

      Thanks, sj. As I mentioned, it was just the stories floating in the wind. We all knew he was a hero, we just had some of the facts wrong.

      Even without Son Tay or being a founder of Delta (he did command it), MG Bargewell is still a Grade A certified badass.

  12. NHSparky says:

    God bless and rest easy, CSM.

  13. Perry Gaskill says:

    Personally, I’ve got mixed thoughts on the Son Tay raid. On one hand, a group of 56 Special Forces operators managed to grease 200-300 NVA without losing any of their own. On the other hand, the prisoners weren’t around to be rescued.

    What’s also apparently true is that one part of the intelligence community knew the prisoners had been moved to a known different location due to water well contamination at the Son Tay compound, but that planners of the raid chose to ignore or discount the information.

    The mission itself was mostly an operation run directly from the Joint Chiefs involving DIA and the Air Force with Army Special Forces acting as trigger pullers. Indications are that the main source of intel for the Son Tay raid was photo-reconnaissance with little alternate corroboration. Plans and training for the operation lasted about six months which meant plenty of time for the NVA to change things on the ground.

    Some of those involved said later that due to operational security and getting caught up in mission details, that the raid took on a life of its own and tended to be impervious to outside influence. The spooks tried to put a happy face on things later by gushing about the intel gathered but it amounted to pretty much a matter of porcine cosmetics.

    None of which, of course, having anything to do with Murray and the others taking care of business.

  14. Defender says:

    If you guys want to send condolences to his brother in arms Sgt Maj (ret) Herman “Snake” Spencer a Son Tay Raider who is a father if sorts to me a real friend and neighbor of mine I’m sure he’d welcome all of your support. These guys often think they’ve been forgotten. These are some hard, rough men willing to comit violence upon the enemy so that our children can sleep without having to fear a door kick in the wee hours and disappeared to some mass grave at the hands of scumbags. His email is thehermanspencer@gmail.com please don’t troll this 84 year old real gut eating operator. Have a soul. Send your condolences and let him know you haven’t forgotten their sacrifices. Aut pax aut bellum!

    • Thunderstixx says:

      I sent an email.
      Thanks for posting that, I hope he gets his ass buried in email’s by all the great guys on the world’s best Milblog !!!

      • Defender says:

        You bet brother glad to do it. I hold this man in the highest regard and greater respect. He’s a super guy that exudes honour and courage. Its obvious even if you knew nothing else about him you’d know within a few seconds that he’d be one to stand shoulder to shoulder with point and edge and shield to let blood flow from the enemy and to allow his own to flow in defense of his brethren without question. Thanks for sending him some love bro! Hooah!

        • Thunderstixx says:

          He sent me a very kind reply, he’s every bit as humble and as good of a man as you said he is.
          Thank you for giving me this opportunity to show a true Hero the recognition that he deserves, if for nothing else, he was about ten times the Soldier I ever hoped to be…

    • USAFRetired says:

      Again according to Schemmer then MSGT Spencer was in the Command Group – Security along with then SFC Murray

  15. Thunderstixx says:

    Look what I found…..
    Fuck John Kerry, stolen valor kingpin, ranks right up there with Bernasty and all his cohorts…

  16. A Proud Infidel®™ says:

    Another Warrior goes on to rejoin his Comrades In Valhalla. R.I.P., CSM,

  17. Sparks says:

    Rest in peace Command Sergeant Major Murray. You will not be forgotten.

  18. CPT Mike says:

    This is gutting to hear. I had the privilege of speaking with MAJ Dan Turner (another Son Tay raider who passed on 6 APR 2015) a handful times through OCS and Career Course and recall him mentioning CSM Murray on several occasions. iirc they were both in the command element together.

    These Son Tay guys were a different breed.

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