Fallen soldier returns home

Published 11:23 pm Thursday, September 18, 2008

By Staff
Family mourning death of its ‘hero’
Staff Writer
At approximately 10 a.m. Wednesday morning, the airplane carrying Army Pfc. Michael W. “Mikey” Murdock’s body touched down at the airport in Greenville. Another North Carolina son, this one from Chocowinity, killed while serving his country was returning home.
Murdock’s first tour of duty in Afghanistan abruptly ended when he was fatally shot while preparing for a fighting position as Combat Outpost Lybert was under attack Sept. 11. Murdock was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 6th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.
Murdock was deployed to Afghanistan on June 30.
Murdock’s body was greeted at the airport by his immediate and extended family, a detail of Army cadets and close friends.
As Murdock’s casket, draped in an American flag, was removed from the airplane, the airplane’s pilots firmly held their hands over their hearts. In the foreground stood a single cadet, saluting.
After the casket was lowered, the cadets on the tarmac escorted Murdock’s friends and family slowly to a side of the casket.
Murdock’s mother, Jennifer Tripp, and his father, Walter W. Murdock, each took a turn kneeling at the side of the casket.
Then, the casket was carried by six cadets to a hearse. The cadets once again saluted before retiring.
Murdock’s family retired to a limousine and mini-van on the tarmac, and the vehicles took their positions behind the hearse.
Outside the entrance to the tarmac, members of the Patriot Guard Riders waited for the hearse to pass. As it drove past, they pulled up along each side and at the front of the hearse. The members were invited to provide procession security by Murdock’s family.
The procession left for Washington. As it left the airport, friends and relatives took photographs of the hearse and procession. Scottie Taylor, whose son Joel Taylor was killed while on a tour of duty in Iraq in June, was one of several well-wishers at the airport. Taylor said he was taking photographs of the procession because it’s the only proper way to remember Beaufort County’s fallen soldiers.
An hour later, Murdock’s body was carried into Hillside Funeral Service by the Patriot Guard Riders.
Procession participants took a minute to gather themselves before reflecting on Murdock’s life.
Spencer said the family was “kind of wary” when Murdock decided to enlist in 2006. Her nephew, a 2004 graduate of Washington High School, wanted to fight for his country, she said.
Before deploying, Murdock came home to be with friends and family. Spencer fondly remembers the last days with her nephew.
Spencer is still in disbelief about the death of her nephew.
Pastor Kenneth Pritchard, who is conducting Murdock’s funeral service Saturday, was touched by the community’s response to the procession. Pritchard, a biker himself, rode with the Patriot Guard Riders in the procession.
Murdock’s grandfather, Don McDermott, called the procession “inspiring.”
McDermott, whose only living grandson is stationed in Iraq, hopes that “whoever is elected president will handle the (war against terror) the right way.”
McDermott said he is praying for his daughter, Murdock’s mother.
Jesse Woolard, Murdock’s friend for seven years, said, “He was just a good guy.”
Spencer had similar word of praise for her nephew.
Now, Spencer said, comes the healing process.