Lt. Col. Frank Murray (ret.), an aerospace legend and patriotic United State Air Force wartime Veteran, has flown his last and final mission.
Frank was born in Omaha, Nebraska to William and Agnes Murray and was raised in Southern California. After graduating from St. Augustine High School (San Diego) in 1948, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force at the age of 17 and became a mechanic. He was later accepted as a Pilot Candidate, when enlisted men were allowed to apply for the position, and graduated as a Lieutenant. He spent the next several decades as a Fighter Pilot. He retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1977 after 29 years of service.
Along the way, Col. Murray flew the F-84, F-86, F-101, and F-94. In the 1960’s, he was chosen to fly the F-101 chase plane to a brand new CIA plane, the (Mach 3) A-12, in Project Oxcart at Area 51. He later became one of only SIX pilots chosen by the CIA to fly the A-12 in reconnaissance operations over Southeast Asia. The Top Secret A-12, still holds the unofficial worldwide altitude and speed records for the highest and fastest Jet powered flights.
Col. Murray’s call sign, by which he was widely known, was “Dutch 20”. When the Oxcart Program was shut down, he returned to the USAF and flew 67 “Sandy’’ rescue missions over Viet Nam in the A-1 Skyraider. Frank prided himself on flying the fastest plane in the world (A-12) and then going on to fly the slowest plane (A-1 Skyraider).
Col. Murray’s Air Force decorations included the Distinguished Flying Cross, Meritorious Service Medal, and the Air Medal with five oak leaf clusters.
In retirement Frank was awarded the CIA Intelligence Star for his Top Secret surveillance flights.
Frank married Stella Jane Harrell in 1953 and they were happily married for 62 years and had three children. They lived in numerous places over the years, but made Gardnerville, Nevada their final home in the late 1990’s. Years after Stella’s passing, Frank found love again and married Faith Jolene Kasmarcik in 2019. They were happily married for three years.
Frank is survived by his loving wife, Jolene, his children, Francis J. (“Joe”) Murray Jr. of Flagstaff, AZ, Diane Peart of Carson City, NV and Janice (John) LaPointe of Wellington, NV, his grandchildren Paul, Amber, Sarah, Kathryn, and his great grandchildren Clayton, Claire, Charlotte, Seth and Elizabeth.
Frank was nominated to the Nevada Aerospace Hall of Fame in 2012 and the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 2008. He belonged to several organizations including the Quiet Birdmen, Gathering of Eagles, Roadrunners, and Sierra Sagebrush Flyers. He was an honorary member of the VF-111 Sundowners.
Frank enjoyed traveling in his motorhome, talking to friends all over the world via Ham Radio, woodworking, gardening, playing with radio controlled planes, watching movies, visiting neighbors and spending time with family and friends.
Frank was preceded in death by his loving wife, Stella, and his siblings, William Murray, and Edwin Murray.
A graveside ceremony will be held on Monday, April 17, 2023 at 1:00PM at Eastside Memorial Park 1600 Buckeye Rd., Minden NV 89423, with a reception/open mic from 2:00 – 5:00 pm at the Carson Valley Inn 1627 U.S. Hwy 395 N, Minden NV 89423.
In lieu of flowers, Frank requested donations to his favorite charities: St. Augustine High School (San Diego CA), Operation Smile and/or The Salvation Army.
Lt. Col. Murray’s last request was to: “Support our troops and remember our Veterans.”