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Interview with Stephanie Murphy, March 10, 2010

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
Tyler Gayheart, Interviewer | 2010OH010 WW 361
Col. Arthur L. Kelly American Veterans Oral History Collection | From Combat to Kentucky: Student Veteran Oral History Project


GAYHEART:-- so. Um, so I told you what you're-- we're here for.

MURPHY: Uh-huh.

GAYHEART: Um, and we're just gonna-- I'm just gonna kind of ask you a series of questions and can you first off, uh, tell me what your name is and uh what you're a student of at UK?

MURPHY: Uh, my name is Stephanie Murphy. And I am a graduate student for the physician assistant program, um, at UK.

GAYHEART: And, um, how old are you?

MURPHY: I'm twenty-eight.

GAYHEART: Okay. And you are a veteran of?

MURPHY: The Iraq war. Is that were you're--

GAYHEART: Iraq war.

MURPHY:-- for? Yeah. The Iraq--


MURPHY:-- war. Ev-- Army reserves.

GAYHEART: Army reserve. And, um, what service-- what branches of service have you served in and--?

MURPHY: I served seven years in the Army reserves, um, out of Niagara Falls. And then, um, currently I am in the, uh, Kentucky International Guard.

GAYHEART: And how many-- you said seven years in the Army?

MURPHY: Seven years in the Army and then I've been in a total eleven and a half years. So (Gayheart laughs) whatever that difference is. (laughs)

GAYHEART: And where did you grow up?


MURPHY: I grew up in Dunkirk, New York.

GAYHEART: And if you can, just tell us a little bit about your childhood growing up and what Dunkirk was like, uh, in New York.

MURPHY: Okay. Dunkirk's-- it's a really small town. Um, it's about an hour south of Buffalo. Uh, it's kind of set up like a city. So it's not like country. It's set up like a city, but it's very small. Uh, you know, we have one high school for the entire city-- town, whatever. One middle school for the entire town and then a couple different elementary schools. Uh, it's not a very rich town. My parents are blue collar workers. My dad is a janitor at a local, uh, the ice cream factory. And my mom was a, uh-- or is a personal assistant kind of like health care assistant for, um, a home care, uh, place. So.

GAYHEART: So was there anybody in your family that was in the military?

MURPHY: Oh yeah, my father was a Marine for two years, um, kind of 2:00during the end of Vietnam. He did not go to Vietnam, but he was, uh, in-- he was in during that time, so just two years. And my mom-- my brother's actually in the Army now too.

GAYHEART: Okay. What was it like growing up with a dad that was in the military or had been?

MURPHY: Yeah, he-- we had a white glove test (laughs) where like we cleaned-- we had to clean the house and, you know, he would, you know, test for dust and that kind of stuff. Um, I think he tried to act a lot, uh, more tough than what he was, 'cause, he never really got on us about if it wasn't completely clean. But he would tell us he would do a white glove test. And, uh, he was a lot harder on my-- harder on my brother than he was on me. I was kind of daddy's little girl. So-- so, um, I was kind of spoiled. (laughs) Um, as much as you could without a whole lot of money. But as far as with him I kind of got away with stuff. So.

GAYHEART: So was your childhood different than the-- the person next door with--?

MURPHY: Um, I mean we didn't have-- I think it was more different because of money rather than different because of the fact that he 3:00was, um, a Marine, you know, prior. Uh, so I mean-- I mean I did, you know, list-- I mean I grew up listening-- hearing him sing the Marine Corps, you know, song and, um, you know, listen-- listen to-- you know, he watches History Channel a lot. So, you know, there's that kind of ingrained in him. Uh, but beyond that really it's more money than anything else, or lack thereof.

GAYHEART: So growing up did he ever talk to you about the military?

MURPHY: No, he's not quite-- he's not much of a talker my dad. (laughs) He, uh, yeah, he's not much of a talker. So, uh, and I never really was interested at that time in asking him specific questions. Um, and he really didn't go overseas or anything. He was a-- he was a cook, so-- and his time was kind of short. So there-- I don't-- I really haven't asked him much since, and I probably should, but I really haven't. So-- but he's-- he's real quiet. So. (laughs)

GAYHEART: Did-- were you ever exposed to anybody that was in the military when you were growing up?

MURPHY: I don't believe so. I believe he was the-- probably the closest 4:00I ever had to somebody that was-- that was actually in the military. So.

GAYHEART: And what-- what was your opinion of it as a little-- as a young, you know, a young girl? What was your opinion of--?

MURPHY: Well, uh, I mean I thought-- 'cause, of course Marines, you know, I-- I was thinking, you know, 'cause he was-- he was really-- he acted really tough and he was really, um, not-- not emotional. And didn't, you know, really-- didn't show emot-- emotions at all and, you know, he was a man's man. And, um, didn't put up with a lot of crap from, like, my brother and maybe a little bit from me, but not too much. (laughs) So I think-- I think I grew up thinking that the mil-- military was, like, really tough and hardcore and you know, you don't-- you know, you don't mess around with it and-- oh, I did grow up, one thing, I did grow up very patriotic. I mean my dad-- I knew from a very young age that you don't let your flag touch the ground. Um, you- - you know, you don't-- you don't disrespect the flag. Um, I knew every single day that you f-- that you-- that-- that you hung a flag out 'cause there's certain specific days you're supposed to, uh, hang flags out. So I knew every single day on that. My dad, um, has an American 5:00flag and a POW flag out, uh, on those days. And you know, he's-- he's very good. He-- when-- when it hits, you know, sunset, it comes down. So I kind of grew up like that. I grew up-- he has-- is also a member of the American legion. So I was like a junior member of the American legion. So I grew up in that kind of setting and it's a lot of older vets, not so much, you know, the younger type. Yeah.

GAYHEART: So-- so have-- has anything that your father, uh, anything that he had done, how has it affected you today?

MURPHY: I think I'm definitely more patriotic than the average person my age. Like, I think-- like I-- it bothers me when I'm (laughs) at games and people talk during the national anthem. Um, that-- and it's not 'cause of the military that it bothers me. It bothers me 'cause I grew up knowing better not to do that. And, you know, it bothers me when people continue to walk to their seats. You know? You stop where you are. You turn around and, you know, you appreciate, you know, what you have. And I think that's, you know, one of the main things.


GAYHEART: What do you--


GAYHEART:-- what do you think your dad would say to somebody like that? Or have you seen him?

MURPHY: Oh, I-- you know, I have never seen him 'cause he sent really-- he doesn't really get out too much. And the people he is around are-- are, you know, ex veterans. But I don't know if he would say anything. But I think he would be really angry. (laughs) Like, yeah, I-- I don't-- I know he doesn't go to football games anymore. I come from a big-- I'm from a big football town, Buffalo Bills.


MURPHY: So I know he doesn't go to football games anymore and I don't know if when he did, if that was a problem for him or not, but.

GAYHEART: Right. Well, how was your mom during all this? Did she kind of balance out that--?

MURPHY: Yeah, she's different than him. She is, um, you know, much more talkative than him, much more-- emotional-- I mean she grew up in a completely different family. He grew up in a Catholic family, they didn't show a lot of emotion. She grew up in a southern Baptist family. You know, her father was a reverend. So, she's-- and-- and they're like very lovey dovey, give hugs, you know? So that she kind of was on the other end of it, um, so--


MURPHY: And I mainly went to her to talk about things--



MURPHY:-- or to ask questions or anything like that. Even-- I would ask her questions about him. (laughs)


MURPHY: 'Cause you just didn't ask him questions. I mean not that he was mean about it. It just-- never did.

GAYHEART: So when you went to go enlist at seventeen, what was your mindset leading up to that?

MURPHY: Actually, what's funny is I didn't want to be in the military before that. Um, let's see. It's-- when I was sixteen, I think, I think when I was sixteen, uh, I went to an alternative school-- um, it's like a tech school, 'cause I didn't really, like, care for my high school too much. So like half a day I went to a tech school were I was a nursing-- where I took a nursing program there. And they forced me to take the ASVAB, which is the military test. (laughs) And I was not happy about it. I was, "I'm not going in the military." You know? "I don't know, you know, why they're making me take this stupid test." So I kind of didn't do well on the ASVAB 'cause I didn't try.


MURPHY: I only tried on the portions that I thought were interesting and anything else I just kind of blew off. (laughs)


MURPHY: So, um, then-- but then what happened was, that was-- that was 8:00like at-- that was at sixteen. And then what happened was, um, or maybe fifteen. Maybe, like, fifteen- sixteen. My brother actually went in, uh, shortly before my seventeenth birthday. And, uh, he went to active duty Army. And his recruiters, you know, of course, trying to get more people in were like, "Oh, you know, you have any sisters? Or brothers? Whatever?" Of course then they look up my ASVAB scores and apparently for Army my ASVAB scores were good. You know, for Air Force they're not good, but for Army apparently they were good. So they were like, "Oh, you gotta get your sister in here." So even though I wasn't technically supposed to be, 'cause you're not supposed to interview till you're seventeen. But they did call me in at sixteen. I don't think they knew at the time I was sixteen. But they called me in, they were talking to me. And this is active duty people. And I was like-- and I don't know what-- I don't know why I changed all of the sudden. But, like, they were talking to me and I was like, "Well, I'm not joining active duty. Not doing it." You know? So they were like, "Okay, talk to our reserve recruiter." So I did. I went and talked to the reserve recruiter and he talked to me for a little bit. And then he asked me how old I was. (both laugh) And he was like, "Oh, well we're not supposed to be talking to you till you turn seventeen," he's like, "but this is what we'll do. When you turn seventeen, if you still want--," and this is only like a-- a few months away. He's like, "When you turn seventeen, if you're still interested," he's like, "give 9:00me a call." So I did. I called 'em, I don't-- I don't know if it was like the day of my birthday. But it had to be really quick because, um, I was going through MEPS [Military Entrance Processing Station] for my-- for my physical, let's see, nine, ten, eleven-- so three days after my birthday. So.

GAYHEART: What were you thinking about in that month?

MURPHY: You know, I don't-- I don't remember. That was so long ago. I-- I wish-- I wish I remembered. But I guess-- I don't know. I guess-- I guess-- at the time I had a boyfriend who was Air Force too. So he was, like, you know, so that-- I think-- I think there was that concern there was, you know, so-- I mean I've dated him for four and a half years. So it wasn't like-- something, you know, small. So I think at that time I was, you know, worried about, well, you know, he's already away from me and now I'm gonna have to go away. But this is what I really want-- this is something I really want to do for whatever reason. I-- I'm not quite sure, like, why I changed my mind from sixteen to seventeen. But something clicked in me, I guess. (laughs)

GAYHEART: What were your peers doing? What were other-- the other girls that were sixteen, being sixteen doing at the time?

MURPHY: They were actually, you know, doing their college stuff, 10:00getting-- you know, writing letters for scholarships and figuring out what college they wanted to go to. And I-- I think-- oh, I knew I wanted to go to college for sure, like I just wasn't-- that wasn't my focus at that point. Like I wasn't even worried about what college I was going to. That wasn't anything that I ever was a concern to me. I think I just figured I'll figure it out later. But that's what they were worried about, was college and, you know, filling out stuff like that. So.

GAYHEART: How come you-- your focus was different?

MURPHY: Hmm. You know, I don't-- I-- I really couldn't tell you. I think I've always been different than my peers. You know? They-- you know, I-- I-- I had a lot of peers who did things they probably shouldn't a done, and I hung out with them. But I didn't do that same thing. So, um, I never was like a follower I guess. I guess I was more of a-- and I don't-- I don't think people really followed me. So I don't think-- I don't want to call myself a leader. But I-- well, definitely didn't follow other people. So I kind of always did my own thing. I think also a factor was, once again, money. 'Cause my friends, you know, not that they were rich, but their parents could afford to pay a little bit. Whereas my family, I knew if I wanted-- if I was going to college, they would totally support me. They actually 11:00wanted me to go to college. They were pushing me to go to college, but they didn't have any money to get me to go to college. So I think that was a factor, was knowing that if I got into the reserves I got, um, a very little bit of-- now you get a decent amount of money. At that time I didn't get very much. But it was something better than what I had before, um, and it gave me the opportunity, I think, to, I thought, like I could, um, start a career quick. You know? Like I could-- 'cause you can go in there as-- as medical people, you can go in and get some fast training. You know? You get ten-- you know, less than ten months of training and you can come out and do something. It would take you two years in a civilian. So, uh, you know, I think-- I'm-- I was a little more mature than I think my friends. So.

GAYHEART: Well what-- what was your parents' reaction when you came back and told 'em what you had done?

MURPHY: Yeah. Well-- uh, well they had to sign for me. So I hadn't done it yet. (laughs) They-- I mean obviously my-- it's funny 'cause there's-- it's two completely different reactions compared to my brother and me. My mom is just like, you know, "I don't care. But 12:00you-- go-- go to college. Do not do this and then not go to college. Go to college. Go to college. Go--," you know, 'cause she wanted me to do better than her. You know? So-- and I kept-- had to reassure her, uh, "I will go to college. This is just something I'm gonna do first." But she was fine with it. She actually went with me to recruiters. They talked to her. Um, you know, she was-- she was fine with it. She signed or whatever. My dad, on the other hand, was not happy; or at least he never really vocalized he wasn't happy, but he refused to go to the recruiter with me, which makes me think that he was not happy 'cause he seem-- they both had to sign. Um, and he-- when the recruiter came to the house to get him to sign the papers, 'cause that's what he had to do to get my dad to sign the papers, my dad wouldn't even talk to him. Like, he just signed 'em and the recruiter walked-- had to walk away. (laughs) Yeah. So based on that reaction, uh, I assume that he wasn't very happy about me going in. But I think my dad has an old school-- or had an old school thing where, um, you know, military's for guys. You know? And I'm sure he didn't want his baby girl in harm's way either. You know? So I think-- 13:00I think for him it's like military's for guys. 'Cause with my brother it was-- he was more upset he didn't go into Marines. You know? (laughs) It was-- I mean he wanted him to go into the military. Like that was big for my brother. And, um, of course he joined when he was eighteen so he-- my parents had no control over it anyways. But-- but yeah, my-- my-- my-- my father, two completely different reactions. So that was interesting. (laughs)

GAYHEART: Huh. So what was-- what happened for him to start accepting it?

MURPHY: You know, I don't know when he started accepting it. But when I got home from Iraq-- well, he actually-- I mean he's-- he's-- he wrote me letters and sent me packages when I was in Iraq. And this is, phew, '98. So this is like six-- five years later, um, about that-- you know? So that means it's quite a lot-- I'd been in the military for quite some time when I went overseas. But, um, there were-- I noticed there was a difference where he kind of started to-- was fine-- was-- or I at least thought he was fine with it, was when I got off the bus, um, when we came back from Iraq. I was getting off the bus and my parents were waiting for me, like, he actually, like, I don't want to say he cried 'cause he'll kill me if I tell him-- if I-- if I say he 14:00cried. (laughs) But he had a tear, you know, in his-- he had tears in his eyes or whatever. And he had a big smile on his face. And, um, I think he was-- and he, you know, he told me he was proud of me and that kind of stuff. So I think-- I don't know if that's what changed it or if it was just over that five years, but that's when I noticed there was two completely different reactions to me being in the military.

GAYHEART: So would you say that your dad disagreed with you going into the military?

MURPHY: Uh-- to my best knowledge, yeah. I mean he-- like I said, he doesn't talk, eh, very much. And I've never bothered to ask him since then, you know-- you know, "We're you really upset about me going to military?" But just based on reactions, yeah, I-- I really don't think that he really wanted me to go in. And I don't know if it's because I'm his baby girl. I don't know if it's because I'm a girl in general and he feels that maybe it should be just for guys. I-- you know, I-- I don't-- I don't know why. It's-- that's just, knowing my father a little bit-- you know, I know him. It's-- that's my assumption. That's got to be one of those two reasons or both. (laughs)

GAYHEART: So why-- well, let me go back. What were your-- what were 15:00your academics like in high school?

MURPHY: (laughs) What's funny is going to elementary school, I was, like, you know, star student. I was, like, A student. This is elementary school. The middle school, you know, I got too cool for school. So, then I didn't do so well in middle school. Well, now I-- and of course that's-- you know, you're talking like Cs and maybe a few Bs. That kind of stuff. Um. But when I got into high school I was still-- that first year I didn't do so well, ninth grade. And then I-- something clicked in me and I was like, "What-- what are you doing? Like, you're smarter than this. You know, you-- you know," I think-- I think I got over that, like, trying to be cool. And I was like, "Okay, you know, you need to do good." So after that I did really well. Um, I probably-- I think I graduated, like, middle of my class. Um, but a lot of that was due to what happened before and those grades. So.

GAYHEART: Do you think maybe your decision to join the national guard or-- or the reserves was because you maybe thought you couldn't do as well as in college?


MURPHY: No, I knew I could well in college. I'm one of those people that if I try, I can do well. That-- that's my thing. Like if I try, I can do well; I just didn't try. Um, and even in high school, even after that, I probably didn't try as hard as I should of. Um, and I still got good grades without even trying that hard. But I-- so I knew I could do well in college. I think I just knew I needed to pay for it. Um, and two ways to pay for it was a little bit of money that I got from-- for-- for, you know, education, loans from the military and more so having a good job. 'Cause working at McDonalds is not gonna pay for your college unless your parents help. So if I could get a good job with the military and then continue that in civilian, then I could have pay-- pay for part of my college.



GAYHEART: So you-- you enlisted at peace time?

MURPHY: Oh yeah, yeah. 9-- yeah, '98. September of '98. I had no idea about all this, other (laughs) stuff.

GAYHEART: So what was that like?

MURPHY: Um, like when I found-- when-- when-- in 2000-- when-- during September 11th, or, like, before that, like joining?

GAYHEART: It's, you know, that's three years before--



GAYHEART:-- the 9/11 attacks. So what was the military like before 9/11?

MURPHY: Um, well I think-- I think for me I didn't-- I knew that there was that possibility there. Um, and I accepted that possibility. And I wasn't-- I think some people were really unrealistic. Some people, I think, got in and thought that they would, you know, especially being reserves-- Reserves and National Guard, the idea in the Reserve and National Guard, if you went to, like, a National Guard unit and you talked to them, they would say, "Oh, I got deployed in ten years. And why'd I get deployed?" It was, you know, a six week s-- you know, stint in Kuwait that was no big deal. You know? Um, I think that was the mind set in the Reserves and National Guard at that time, was, "Don't worry about it. If you do get deployed it's not gonna be a big deal." You know? Um, but I think I was more realistic than that. I think I knew that there was always a chance that something could happen. Um, but I was okay with that. It wasn't-- it wasn't that big of a deal. So-- at the time. (laughs) Of course, I don't-- I think-- I think it's hard to know at--


MURPHY: Sixteen and seventeen, and, you know, what you're really getting yourself into. So.


GAYHEART: So when you all would train for scenarios, how would the scenarios be set up?

MURPHY: Oh, completely different than what we had-- we actually-- actually happened. It was all, um, what do they call it, guerilla warfare.


MURPHY: Yeah, I mean I had to, you know, learn how to dig a fox hole and, you know, every-- you know, every-- everything we did was, um, like old school, like World War I, World War II type stuff. Uh, probably the only thing that was more recent would be chem warfare. We did a lot of-- I mean we-- you know, we did a lot of, um, what they call NBC, nuclear biological chemical, uh, you know, attacks and that kind of stuff where they would throw fake gas at us in basic training and, you know, we had to get our mask on and take cover and all that kind of stuff. That was probably the more recent stuff that would-- would apply today. But everything else pretty much had nothing to do with what actually happened. (laughs)


MURPHY: Today's warfare.

GAYHEART:-- so did the training change?

MURPHY: Um, well, I didn't really-- in-- you mean after, like after 9/11? It really-- it didn't initially, and I don't know if it's 19:00because Reserves are behind. Um, as it got closer to time the-- for us to leave, like I would say within the last, like, six months of us leaving, things did start to change. Um, they started to do convoy training. Had never done convoy training up until maybe six months or so before we left. And actually the-- the six months they kind of knew stuff was-- was gonna happen, um, they didn't know for sure. But they had sent us to a place to-- to get this specified training. So we did convoy training. 'Cause obviously you do a lot of convoys over there. Um, so we-- you know, we learned how to-- you know, if we get-- if-- if our-- if it gets-- we get-- we get fired on we have to, you know, go in a certain type of formation and all that kind of stuff. Um, we learned how to take care of EPW-- uh, prisons of war. Uh, you know, what to do if they-- if they approach you. And that the kind of stuff we really didn't-- they didn't really concern with. I think-- I think- - and maybe that-- that's because I'm medical. But they didn't really concern us with that. Um, so I think-- I think there definitely was something that's changed. I think more it was just letting us know, like, "Yeah, you're not gonna be digging foxholes." You know? We'll be in-- you know, just more letting us know what type of setting we were gonna be in. And I think the main thing that they were concerned about 20:00with medical was convoys.

GAYHEART: So tell me about your boot camp experience.

MURPHY: Boot camp. Well, I went to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Fort Lost in the Woods, that's what everybody calls it. Um, I-- I had a great drill sergeant. I don't know if everybody tells you that, but I loved my drill sergeant. (laughs) He was actually, um, I think he was either going to ranger school or pre ranger school, and they actually pulled him to be a drill sergeant. Um, I think he was an E5. But he was, like, he was hard on us if we did something wrong. But other than that, um, although we all and we exercised, 'cause he was an exercise buff. So, like, we exercised all the time. But he didn't just smoke us for no reason. Uh, smoke us. I probably should define that. He didn't just make us do all sorts of crazy exercises and-- for hours on end for no reason. He, um, you know, we would have to do something, which we always-- I mean, they find stuff that you do. But a lot of, um, the other platoons in my company, they would be running up and down stairs, uh, changing-- they'd go upstairs, change into something that 21:00they told them to change into, like some kind of uniform and then come back down. And they'd go back upstairs and change into something else. We never did that kind of stuff, um, for no reason. So.

GAYHEART: Were you an all girl unit?

MURPHY: No, actually (laughs) and there was problems with that, we-- we were-- we were mixed. So the bottom floor was all girls, and then there was-- because it was big barracks. Um, and then the second and third floor was all guys. So-- and-- and it wasn't-- the platoons were mixed too, so it wasn't like a girl platoon and then the rest were guy platoons. It was mixed platoons. So.

GAYHEART: So what was that like?

MURPHY: Um, I didn't have a problem with it. But there was obviously problems with people doing things that they shouldn't be doing. Um, apparently-- and apparently I wasn't involved-- I didn't know anything about this until after the fact. But apparently during, like, our, um, field training exercise, at the end people were doing things in the woods with each other and so, um, I think, uh, you know, I didn't have a problem with it. But a lot of (laughs) other people did. So.

GAYHEART: Hmm. Did you excel in boot camp at anything in particular?


MURPHY: Um-- not really. I-- I'm little-- I'm kind of little. So, like, exercise, um, was hard for me, like pushups. I had to really work on those really-- a lot. Now sit ups, oh, I can do sit ups. I think the most sit ups I ever did was ninety-nine in two minutes. Yeah, that was in the training-- our school training right after that, I did ninety-nine in two minutes. So I-- I do well in sit ups. But I'm-- I'm not real great at exercise. So I didn't excel in that. Um, and they didn't pick me for a leadership position, which that's probably when you first you get there. Like I don't know how they-- what their choices are, but I'm sure they like, kind of, like, look at people or whatever. Um, I excelled at staying under the cover. Like I didn't-- like they didn't even know my name for a long time. (Gayheart laughs) So I didn't even get-- I-- I didn't even get-- 'cause, like, you know, they start individually smoking-- like, you know, smoking you at Fort Leon-- about the third week. You know, first-- first three weeks it's if one person does something wrong, you all get in trouble. After the first three weeks it's-- they start doing it on individual. So if you do something wrong, you're gonna get in trouble and you're gonna be made to do all these exercises. If I do something-- well, I-- 23:00that didn't hap-- I didn't have any problem with that until my second to last week and then I got in trouble.

GAYHEART: They learned your name.

MURPHY: Yeah, yeah. They learned my name. Yeah. (laughs)

GAYHEART: So what was your most memorable moment in boot camp?

MURPHY: (laughs) My most memorable moment? Actually was probably me getting sick. Uh, I was really sick, um, coughing, dizzy, fever, uh, I mean we would be doing exercises and-- and the, you know, drill sergeant would walk out of the room and then all of the sudden like I'd feel myself get light headed. (laughs) And the people behind me would catch me. So everybody knew I was really sick. But I would-- didn't want to go to the hospital, 'cause if you go to the hospital and you have to get-- if you go too long, you'll get pushed back training. Last thing I wanted to do was be pushed back. So I, um, kept this up for a while (laughs) And then we went through the, uh, the-- the-- the tear gas chamber. And, um-- and I was like, oh, this will be great, 'cause it's gonna clear me out. That's what they tell you. 'Cause you go through the tear gas, it-- you know, open-- opens-- opens up every orifice and everything comes out. So I thought, well, this will 24:00be great. You know, I won't be sick after this. You know? Yeah, well I got out of that, um, and I could breath well. And, you know, I-- I felt pretty good in this area. But I couldn't stop coughing. And I kept coughing. And, you know, I thought at first it was just a normal effect. Everybody else was coughing. Well, I was one of the first ones to go through and I'm still coughing. And I-- I mean, we're-- we're-- we're marching home and we're-- and I'm still coughing. And I'm like, "Okay, something's not right." Well then we got back and they started making us do some kind of exercise, I mean, like they always do. And all of a sudden, like, I got this shooting pain down my side. You know? And-- and nobody saw me 'cause I was in the back at the time. But then when we-- to the chow hall and I got another shooting pain. Well, come to find out my drill sergeant figured it out that I was-- 'cause I almost fell the one time I got a shooting pain. So he was like, "You're going to the hospital." So I come to find out I had walking pneumonia. (laughs) So that would be probably my most memorable monet-- moment, is, um, yeah, being-- sitting there coughing for hours and hours and hours, not understanding that I actually had pneumonia. Was probably a bad idea that I did that.


GAYHEART: So you're seventeen years old. You're in boot camp. You have walking pneumonia.

MURPHY: Um-hm.

GAYHEART: What were your peers doing at that moment do you think?

MURPHY: Oh, gosh. Probably most of 'em were in college, probably partying it up. You know? Partying up and having fun. And the ones that didn't go to college, they were back home still doing things they shouldn't be doing, doing, you know, sitting in that black hole. I call Dunkirk a black hole because it, uh, kind of sucks people in and you get in-- you get-- you get stuck there. So, but, yeah.

GAYHEART: Did you ever have a self-reflecting moment in boot camp, like, I wonder what they're doing?

MURPHY: You know what's funny? I don't remember that. But it was so long ago. I mean, you're talking eleven and a half years ago.


MURPHY: So I don't-- I don't remember that and I didn't really get much letters, like, I wasn't-- I mean I got some letters from some family and stuff and some, like, close cousins. But I didn't really get a whole lot of letters. So I don't-- I don't know if I really thought much about that.

GAYHEART: So would you say that you joined the military to get out of 26:00Dunkirk?

MURPHY: Yes, yeah, yeah. Yeah, that would be a fair statement, (laughs) for sure. 'Cause I was afraid of being stuck there. Um, even though I was so determined to get out, I probably shouldn't of been afraid looking back on it. Um, I think, yeah, that's-- that's definitely a fair statement, so.

GAYHEART: What would have happened to you if you stayed?

MURPHY: Well, let's see. I probably still could of went to college, 'cause there is-- I mean there's a big college right in the town next to us. Um, but I probably would be working at a job making, you know, even if I had a college degree, I wouldn't be making near as-- I mean, as much as I could make anywhere else because the economy there is bad, way before this economy ever dropped. Like, it's just-- it's one of those places you get paid, you know, probably twenty percent less than what you would get paid anywhere else. Um, you know, you walk to the store, you know everybody. You know? So I would continue-- I don't know anybody now. But I would-- I would continue to know everybody there. I-- I just don't think it would be-- I wouldn't want to raise my kids there. I would be afraid what they would get theirselves involved in 'cause it's one of those places that there's nothing to do but to get yourself in trouble. So-- so, yeah, it would of been a bad idea. (laughs)

GAYHEART: So after boot camp you went to AIT [Advanced Infantry 27:00Training] and--

MURPHY: Um-hm.

GAYHEART:-- what was your occupation?

MURPHY: I was, um, (coughs) the MOS [Military Occupational Specialty] was 91 Delta, which is a, uh, operating room specialist, or a surgical technologist. So I called myself a surgeon's caddy. (laughs) I don't know if they would like that. But I do. Um, essentially, it-- they're in surgery and they're doing their things and they just ask for stuff. So scalpel. So I give them a scalpel. You know? Hemostat, which is, like, a little pinchy thing. So I give 'em I hemostat. Um, it's a little bit more complicated than I'm making it sound. But that's the basic of it.

GAYHEART: And what was that training like?

MURPHY: Um, you know what's funny? I think at the time I thought it was hard. But, uh, looking back on it, I just didn't try-- I didn't study. So, I think it was hard 'cause I didn't study. But, um, no, I actually did really well. I was top ten of my class. Um, you know, but I think-- I think more importantly there I made a lot of, uh, friends I still talk to today. I think that's, like, the main thing I remember of AIT, is, um, making, you know, long lasting-- and in basic too, cause a lot of 'em went from basic to-- to AIT with me. So-- so I 28:00made a lot of friends there.

GAYHEART: So at that point were your parents-- did they have kind of a relief and were they proud of you?

MURPHY: I have no idea. I know I should know these things, but I-- they just don't-- my family doesn't talk like that. So I'm-- I mean I'm assuming they were-- they would be. I mean they're not-- you know, cold hearted people. But they don't-- we don't say in my family, like, "I'm proud of you." It's just not-- it's gotten more than-- I think-- I think if my parents-- especially my mom-- my dad's gotten older and I think he realizes that he's-- it's-- soon-- you know, sooner or later he's not gonna be alive, I think he's realized that he needs to say that kind of stuff. So it's better now. But we didn't-- I didn't grow up with "I love you's" and-- you know, I just knew that they loved me. I didn't have to hear it. So we just-- I just didn't-- so I don't know. So--


MURPHY:-- I'm assuming they were proud of me though. I never felt like they weren't proud of me. (laughs)

GAYHEART: Hmm. So from there, where were you stationed? Where-- did you go back to--

MURPHY: Well, actually I was at-- that was at Fort Sam Houston, which is where all the medical people are. And then actually because I was top ten in the class I got to choose-- 'cause you-- okay, so you do your-- 29:00your bookwork. But then you have to do a, um, like on the job training as well, especially for Reservists and Active-- or-- and Guard, because when we go home, we don't have that. Um, so actually because I was top ten I got to choose where I got to go. So I went to Hawaii. (laughs) So I got to go to Hawaii for ten weeks, um, in, like, February. So that was-- that was great 'cause it was, uh, perfect time. You know? You don't want to go over the summer, it's too hot. But, like, that was the perfect time to go. So I got to spend ten weeks in Hawaii, you know, pretty much free. So, making money. Um, I probably didn't utilize that time as much-- well as I should have. Uh, but it was still, uh, very enjoyable and um, I went and saw a lot of things. So.

GAYHEART: So then from there, you went back home?

MURPHY: Yeah, I went back home. I went back home, immediately started applying-- 'cause, you know, for Reserves and you only do it one weekend a month. So I went home, immediately started applying for jobs, um, as a surgical tech, which, you know, you can make in my hometown, I think-- I think made, like, nine something starting out. And I think eleven something when I was finished or whatever. But, 30:00um, you know, that's quite a bit for an eight-- I think at the time I was eighteen. So that's quite a bit for an eighteen year old to make. You know, I was happy. You know, my friends are making, you know, minimum wage at, you know, McDonalds and I'm making, you know, nine, ten, eleven dollars. Um, so I-- I applied for, um, surgical tech jobs. Um, and actually really there's only one place you can go in my hometown, and that's the only hospital in my town. (laughs) So-- and it just happened to be that they actually needed a small tech. In a small hospital they only keep, like, five-- four or five surgical techs, and one had just quit. So I got in. So it was-- it was great. I worked there for about two and a half years.

GAYHEART: So did you know after you got home that you-- this is something you wanted to do for life?

MURPHY: The military? Hm, I'm trying to remember when I figured that out. You know, I don't think at that time. I don't think it was at that time that I decided-- like I think-- 'cause when you get back from basic training, I mean you're just so, um-- I think-- well I guess-- I guess some people have, like, this big sense of "I'm cool" or whatever, 31:00so they want to stay-- they say they want to stay in. But I think for me I was just ready to be done with the active duty part of it. Like I'm-- I'm not an active duty kind of girl. I-- I love my military, but I love it-- in part time. (laughs) So I think at that point-- I think-- I think at that point I was just ready to be home. And I-- I-- I don't think I ever thought about it at that point, staying in the military, um, more than my six-- my six year commitment.

GAYHEART: Did you come across-- you said you came from a small town.

MURPHY: Um-hm.

GAYHEART: Did you come across any-- any people that might a-- did you come across any stigmas or stereotypes about women in the military?

MURPHY: Hmm, I don't know that-- uh, really not. No.


MURPHY: I mean-- I think-- I think I come-- my-- my town's really patriotic. I mean there's a lot of, um, military type organizations in there, VFWs, American Le-- every town wrought-- from where I come from, you know, and there's several towns in one little area, have an American Legion. (laughs) So it's-- it's like a really patriotic town. And we, for Memorial Day we have a parade going up the, you know, 32:00um, up the street. For July fourth we have stuff. I mean it's-- it's a-- so I think that they just really appreciate military and, um, they didn't really care if, you know, you were a woman or a guy. So.

GAYHEART: Did, um, let's see-- so you went back and you worked for two years as a surgical tech. Um, and then I'm assuming about that time it was 2001 and September 11 attacks happened and can you kind of tell me what was going on in your unit and what happened? What was--

MURPHY: Yeah--

GAYHEART:-- went through your head when that happened?

MURPHY: Yeah, I actually was going-- working and going to school at the same time. Um, and I was actually at class when all that happened and I freaked out, actually. 'Cause all I could think was, Oh my God, my brother was gonna be deployed. I don't know if I'm gonna be deployed. I think I was more worried about my brother 'cause he's activity duty infantry. Um, and at the time he was Fort Bragg. So he was a-- he 33:00was, um, 82nd Airborne. So, I mean, to me, you know, he-- that's not a safe position for him. And so I think I was more worried about that. So I kind of freaked out about that. Um, I'm trying to think if they called-- I mean they had to have called us. I'm sure. I just-- like, I don't remember. They had to have called us. But, um, I know, you know, we-- there-- after that is when things kind of started kind of gearing up, um, as far as our training got a lot more intense. Uh, I think we had more intense training than what I think the typical civilian things. 'Cause I think-- I think the National Guard and the Reserve, before that, I think they got-- I think they got a bad rap in, like, the early '90s about all you do is sit there and drink beer. And that's not true. I-- not-- not since I've ever been. I've never sat there all weekend and drank beer. Um, but I think our-- our training definitely geared up, um, you know? They-- they made sure that, you know, we knew how to put our tent up quickly, 'cause that was part of, um, my unit's thing, was that we had to get our tent up within, like, twelve minutes. So, you know, we had a lot more drills as far as that go. A lot more, um, night time, uh, navigation and trying to get through, you know, the woods. Uh, just a lot more combat type stuff, I 34:00think, um, and a lot more, uh, NBC type stuff. So.

GAYHEART: So what was your opinion on going to combat--

MURPHY: Uh, I think I was--

GAYHEART: I mean--

MURPHY: afraid. Um, I don't think-- I generally don't let things bother me too much, uh, unless it's gonna happen. 'Cause there's nothing I can do. I can't change it. So at-- at first I mean I know I was afraid, cause at first I was, like, in tears, um, you know. But I think at that time, like I knew that I'd have some kind of warning. I didn't realize it would be so little warning. But I did have-- I knew I would have some kind of warning. So I think at that time I was just like, well, you know, I'll probably be deployed at some point. I kind of-- and of course my-- of course everybody's calling me, my friends and my family, um, and, you know, I said, "Yeah, I'll probably be deployed. I just don't-- I don't know." And-- and at the time I think I thought it was gonna be sooner than what it was. Um, I didn't think it was gonna take us two years. But, you know, I-- I don't-- I don't think I really dwelled on it at all. So.

GAYHEART: Um-hm. And so what were you studying?

MURPHY: At the time I was in a junior college. So I was just kind of going for that, general, like arts and science, just, you know, trying to get my pre-reqs in, um, in a cheap school before I decided, you 35:00know, to move onto a bigger school. So.

GAYHEART: And where did you move on to?

MURPHY: Um, actually originally I went to (laughs) a-- a school-- a-- a four year college, private college, um, in Buffalo. It's called D'Youville. Um, and actually I went to-- I went to a bachelors program for PA there. I was actually part of the PA program and it was a bachelors degree. Um, and I was there for a semester and I got deployed. (laughs) So and I didn't-- I didn't end up finishing there. I ended up finishing at UK. But--

GAYHEART: So, and when you returned to-- what-- what brought you to Kentucky?

MURPHY: Hm, my husband. (laughs)

GAYHEART: Okay. Okay.

MURPHY: That's a whole 'nother story. That's a story that happened in Iraq. I don't know if you want to start that now but--

GAYHEART: No, we will-- (Murphy laughs) we're gonna-- you want to take about a--

CAMERMAN: Yeah, we can take a fifteen.

GAYHEART:-- ten, fifteen?


GAYHEART: And then we'll go in and you can start telling us about your story.

MURPHY: Okay, okay.

CAMERMAN: Let me, uh, just turn this off.

[Pause in recording.]

CAMERMAN: Just a second. And I'll let you know when we're rolling.


MURPHY: So eventually you guys are gonna make this bigger, right?

GAYHEART: What's that?

MURPHY: Are you guys gonna try to make this bigger? Is that-- was that 36:00your plan?

GAYHEART: Yeah, this is a pilot. It's a fifteen part pilot and, um--


GAYHEART:-- basically this is the pilot to be able to package all this together and--

MURPHY: Gotcha.

GAYHEART:-- um, I hope-- luckily we've got the state.



CAMERMAN: Um, we're all set.

GAYHEART: Okay. So we were talking about, um, how you were surprised at the deployment in the middle of your, uh, undergraduate--

MURPHY: Oh, yeah. Yeah. That was, um, you know, actually things had-- had calmed down at that point, 'cause-- because it's-- it's-- you're talking this is '03, beginning of '0-- right at the beginning of '03. So, like, things had calmed down. You know? You-- I mean you know it's still there. You know it's going on. But you didn't-- you know, nothing. There was no talk of war or anything like that. So we were still doing, you know, a lot of training. But it wasn't-- you weren't-- you-- I wasn't really thinking that I was gonna get deployed at any minute. Um, so I started my semester. I was a week into the semester and, um, I get home-- one-- my roommate was in the mil-- was in-- was in my-- was in my unit with me. So I get home and her whole 37:00family's at the house. And I'm like, "Hmm, why is your whole family here?" She's like-- and I didn't have a cell phone. I don't know-- I-- it seems weird, but I didn't have a cell phone in 2003. Um, so she was like-- and-- and she told me. They-- they told us-- so this is a Wednesday. They told us. And she-- she was like, "Yeah, I got a call. You know, we're being deployed." I'm like, "Are you serious?" And of course this is in the evening 'cause I had went to school all day. So I immediately started calling my family and friends, letting them know. Um, and it-- I pretty much found out that we-- we were told on a Wednesday and I had to leave on Saturday. So I had two days, essentially, um, to get my official business type affairs in order. You know? Withdraw from school. I actually had applied to the PA program and had an interview, um, that Saturday. (laughs) So I had to call them and tell them I couldn't make it to the interview. Um, and they were kindly enough to reschedule and I actually had to prepare for that inter-- for that interview that day. Like I called them and they were like, "Okay, well we'll meet you at noon." So I had to prepare for a really large interview that day. So that-- and I withdrew from school. And my parents, um, me and my-- since it's both me and my 38:00roommate, we had to move out of our apartment, we weren't gonna keep our apartment empty, um, so we-- she called her parents and I called my parents and my parents came-- I was in Buffalo at the time. So my parents came up from Buffalo and, uh, you know, helped us move very quickly out of our house. They actually finished while we were gone. Um, but yeah, we had two days to pack up, get our affairs in order and we-- now with that said, they had prepared us probably, I don't know, a year or so before that. They-- we-- we had done, like, all our power of attorneys. They-- that's something that they were doing amongst our training, was-- was making sure that we had all of that little stuff in order. So, um, well, we did it again anyways when we went to Fort Dix, New Jersey, which is where our-- we were deployed out of, 'cause it's not like active duty, active duty you-- you just deploy. In reserves you go to a base first. And-- and then you deploy out of that base. So, so we--

GAYHEART: So what was going through your head?

MURPHY: Um, I think that it was-- I think I was so shocked that it was that quick, um, that I didn't have time to think, except for to, "Oh my God, I have to get all this stuff done. You know? I-- and the main 39:00thing is, I think from at the time, was my interview, 'cause that was like gonna be a big thing for me. So, um, and I remember driving back and forth from Dunkirk to Buffalo a couple times, you know, trying to get stuff set. Um, I know I called my friends and that was hard because I think-- it's funny, my-- my-- I think my-- I think my parents were upset later. But, um, it wasn't like hard calling my parents. It was hard calling my friends 'cause I-- they kept crying on me. (laughs) And that doesn't make it easy. What-- you know, I mean was-- I was okay with it 'cause I think I was-- I'm the kind of person when you get-- when I get busy, uh, I-- I don't think about that kind of stuff. I just kind of go. But when they would get upset, then I'm like, "Okay, you can't get upset. Like, you know, I'm-- I'm just going stateside for now. I mean I'm definitely going overseas, but wait, let's worry about that when I leave for overseas." So. So, but I think I was just so busy. (laughs)

GAYHEART: Yeah, your--

MURPHY: So-- and I went to adma-- I was advanced team too. So I left, I think, two days before everybody else, so.

GAYHEART: So you said your parents aren't that vocal.

MURPHY: Um-hm.


GAYHEART: Did they have any reaction?

MURPHY: I-- I-- you know, I don't-- I don't think that my dad had a reaction at all, except for "okay." Um, I think my mom was, like, "What?" You know? And I think she just-- I don't-- I don't really remember a whole lot, but I think it was just like everybody else, like shocked. Like "You're going when?" (laughs) You know, not-- not a month from now. I'm going now. (laughs) So I think it-- for everybody it was just so quick that nobody really had time-- and I had to enlist their help to get everything take care of. So I think my mom just kind of kicked into, you know, go-mode too and my dad just does what he normally does. And just kind of sat there, so. (laughs)

GAYHEART: So what was your unit's task when you were going over to Iraq?

MURPHY: Well, that changed multiple times. Um-- uh, so I'm part of a forward surgical team, or I was. Um, and they-- are-- we were a twenty man unit. It's ten officers, ten enlisted. And our job, um, in general, our mission in general is to provide immediate life saving surgeries to, you know, front line people. So-- so essentially we're attached to, like, an infantry division, um, a front line group. And 41:00we actually-- you-- you-- well, if-- it depends on if they're moving or not. But if they're moving, we're-- we'll be-- we're gonna be right with them, like right behind them so that we can drop our stuff, which is why we got to put a tent up in twelve minutes. We'd drop our stuff. Throw a tent up. Throw our field-- you know, throw our-- our field, uh, like operating room table and stuff together and, you know, try to, like, stop any bleeding. Just basic-- we don't do anything serious. We just stop bleeding. Um, you know, finish any amputations that are already started. Um, just basic lifesaving stuff so that you can get back to, um, a CASH, a Combat Support Hospital, and they can fix you and make you look pretty, (laughs) but we just do lifesaving stuff. So that's our general mission. Um, when we first were tasked-- well, I don't think I knew every little bit 'cause I wasn't that high up. I was E5-- I had just gotten my E5 at the time, so I didn't really know a whole lot. But I know at one point originally when we were go-- tasked to go to Iraq, we were tasked to come down from Turkey, 'cause, you know how they were gonna smash every-- they were gonna, like, come up from Kuwait, down from Turkey, over from Jordan, all of that. 42:00Well, then Turkey-- so we were tasked to come down with-- and I don't remember-- I don't remember what unit it was at the time, but some infantry unit. And we were tasked to come down with them. And, um, Turkey didn't let us in, I don't know if you remember that, but Turkey apparently cordoned the command, did not let us in. They decided at the last minute that "Nope, we're not gonna let you actually cross the border. You can be in Turkey, but we're not gonna let you cross the border into Iraq," 'cause I guess they didn't want to get involved. So that completely shot our mission. So we were stuck at Fort Dix, New Jersey, which is the mo-- place we mobilized out of. Um, we were stuck there for, I think my thing said seventy-eight days when I was looking at my journal. I think it said seventy-eight days. So that's like three months (laughs) we were stuck at Fort Dix, New Jersey 'cause we didn't have a mission. So-- but, yeah.

GAYHEART: So I guess you all got adequate training in the meantime?

MURPHY: Oh yeah. And we went to-- we actually, um, well we did a lot of-- you know, obviously we did a lot of weapon training, um, a lot of chem training. I mean they were so worried about, you know, Saddam, 'cause-- you know, Saddam doing biological weapons against us that we did a lot of chem training. The main thing we did far-- as far as job 43:00specific, we actually went to, uh, uh, Florida, Miami, Florida. We went to, uh, Ryder Trauma Training Center and, for two weeks-- I think it was two weeks, two weeks I believe it was. And we actually had, um, we actually worked in their trauma center. Like they're a level one, like, trauma center. I mean they see anything you can think of and they see 'em all day long. So we actually worked there for two weeks and, um, got serious training on, uh, you know, taking care of bad injuries.

GAYHEART: So obviously going into the situation you felt that you had adequate training?

MURPHY: Um, like actually when I-- by the time I got to Iraq? Yeah. Yeah, I-- I mean as far as medical-- you know, I think things more medically, I know, like, a lot of infantry people think more, like, firing and stuff like that. But as far as medically, yeah, I felt-- I felt pretty-- pretty good. Um, and we had a brand new surgical tech (laughs) so she didn't feel so confident. But she was, like, I'm talking right out of school. So she hadn't had any, you know, work outside of her on-the-job. Um, as far as-- it's hard to prep-- to prepare medical people for war 'cause (laughs)-- warfare, 'cause we're 44:00not-- we--that's not in our mindset, our job. Um, and I'm not, uh, really great at firing weapons. Like I barely always pass the tests, you know, test to pass the little pop up targets and stuff. So, um, you know, I felt-- I felt like if I had to, I probably could have done it. But, you know, I was just hoping that we didn't really have to do a whole lot of, like, warfare. I was hoping we could get to our base safely and then once I'm at my base I'm good. (laughs)

GAYHEART: Was there any situations where you might have had to fire your weapon?

MURPHY: Like once I was there? Yeah. Oh yeah. Yeah, it was different when I got there of what I thought. I mean I thought we were gonna just go to a base, um, you know, I knew we'd have to convoy. But I didn't think I realized how bad it was gonna be when we convoyed 'cause we had prob-- we had a lot of issues with convoys. Um, but, um, I thought we would just stay on the base when we got there. Um, but me being stir crazy was-- I kind of volunteered, my parents would kill me, but I volunteered to go off base sometimes. Plus I was, um, 45:00the-- I'm-- I'm also a supply sergeant, on top of this, like I had an extra duty, so I was a supply sergeant. And we were hurting bad for supplies. They did not give us the supplies we need. So, um, I had to make regular trips to a larger place to get supplies. And I had to convoy. So there was a situation specifically where I thought I was-- I didn't-- never had to fire. But I thought I was gonna have to fire. We actually, um, we were-- I was in the back of a humvee. Um, my lieutenant and I think my-- and one of the-- an NCO was in the front-- was in the front of the, um, so it's a two seater humvee. And I was in the back. And we were coming out of the gate and we turned the corner to head over to, um, going from Camp Warhorse to, um, at Camp Anaconda, which is Balad. And my lieutenant kind of yells back to me, you know, "Hey Cack," that's my maiden name, part of my maiden name anyway. He's like, "Hey Cack, you know, (laughs) something's going on," 'cause he heard this over the radio. He's like, "Something's going on. I don't know what it is. But be at the ready." So, you know, of course-- and you know, you can't-- they tell you not to put your weapon off safe, so I-- you know, I got down and, you know, had my weapon, my finger ready 46:00to turn it off of safe. But there's, like, all of these Iraqi people coming out of their houses and along the roads, which makes me nervous anyways because you just never know what those people are gonna do. Well, come to find out, um, there was actually an IED had hit-- like if we had left, like, ten minutes earlier, maybe five minutes earlier we-- this-- we would a got hit. But there's this one place called RPG alley, and a convoy was coming back towards us and they got hit with an RPG, um, and one of their-- one of the contractors, like, the American, you know, contractors, he got hurt. But that's what happened. So, um, by the time we got there, uh, the medics had already been-- the medics that were with him had already took care of that guy, otherwise I would have to take care of that guy. But, um, but yeah, we were just lucky that I didn't have to end up doing anything. That they kind of had got it all, you know, the people dispersed before we got there. So.

GAYHEART: In what part of Iraq was this?

MURPHY: Um, I was actually was-- was in, uh, northeast Iraq. Um, it's in the Sunni triangle. It's, uh, called Baqubah. And it's Camp Warhorse. It was, um, a small airbase there. Uh, it's like-- I think they said it was for-- forty miles northeast of Baghdad, I think is 47:00what it was. So, and then Camp Anaconda, which I know was a common one, was maybe, like, a half hour north of us, so.

GAYHEART: So at that point when your sergeant yells back at you--

MURPHY: Um-hm.

GAYHEART: and he tells you to get your gun up, what-- what were you thinking?

MURPHY: (laughs) Well, I was m-- more on alert than anything else. I mean it was just me, which is kind of unusual 'cause normally there's more than one person in the humvee and I don't know why it was just me; I mean there was more people-- we're-- they're-- we-- we were-- we were the first people in the convoy 'cause he was-- the lieutenant was controlling the convoy. But, um, so there was more than one humvee. But it was just me in the back, um, and I had to cover the lieutenant- - the driver, who's lieutenant side. So, um, I just-- I think that I just wanted at the time-- I don't know-- I don't remember being scared. I think I just wanted to make sure that-- I think I remember being paranoid, like, looking at everybody. Like 'cause you just don't know; there's all these people on the street and you don't know who's good and who's bad. So I think that was-- that was my main thing, was just 48:00paranoid about, you know, I mean I was down. I had my weapon. I'm looking. I'm looking. You know, of course my back is completely-- you know, I'm trusting on the-- the-- the passenger to fix that, to-- you know, take care of that. But I wasn't really concerned about that. I was just more concerned about the people on the side of the road. Um, so, and, you know, I was just-- we just got lucky. We got lucky a lot of times actually. (laughs)

GAYHEART: Do you wish--


GAYHEART:-- maybe at that point, maybe you wish you were back in Dunkirk?

MURPHY: I don't remember thinking that. But I'm sure there were plenty of times-- I'm sure it was plenty of times when I was over there that I wished I was back in Dunkirk.


MURPHY: Um, we had a lot of scary moments. And, yeah, I'm sure there was plenty of times that I was like, "Yeah. I'm ready to go home." (laughs)

GAYHEART: What's another instance that, close call?

MURPHY: Oh, well we got mortared, like, all the time. Like pretty much, um, I was reading my journal (laughs) today, looking at it. Pretty much the whole month of July and the whole month of August we got mortared. Like I think I counted eleven days that we went once without getting mortared. But pretty much I'd say we got-- like our base got mortared all the time. Now with that said, we kind of had 49:00a lot of bare areas. So the-- at first they were hit-- they just happened to hit a lot of our areas that nobody was in. But, um, as time got on they got closer and closer. So like they actually hit our TOC [Tactical Operations Center] once, which is the command pas-- the command post. They hit our TOC. They hit-- we had-- (laughs) we had a chow hall go up, 'cause I went to bare base. We had nothing. Our chow hall went up and that night it got hit. (laughs) And our-- and our Brown and Root employees, which are, like, people they bring in to, like, run our-- our chow hall, yeah, they quit. So we had no chow hall after that because they said it was too dangerous. So they quit. So, um, one time actually, uh, it was a dud; we had a lot of duds. Um, I was in my friend's tent and, um, a bunch of mortar started hitting. So you just drop to the ground. It's just what you do. And, uh, we got up once every thing was calmed down, looked out there, there was some shrapnel, like, holes through his tent. And we got to the back-- went to the back of the tent, come to find out there was a dud, like, five feet from our tent. So, just lucky that it was a dud. Um, but that happened a couple times where we had duds hit, um, our tent. We 50:00put up a Morale, Welfare and Recreation tent right behind our-- where our hospital was. Our hospital was in, like in a old building. So we put it right behind-- we put the morale, welfare tent right behind there. Um, and that night, was it that night? Yeah. That night. So we think-- we think somebody on the base, one of our Iraqis on the base knew and was reporting stuff, 'cause we'd put something up and then it would get hit. (laughs) But, yeah, so, um, and I think I sent you a picture on that one, with a big hole in the side of the tent, yeah that-- that got hit that night and we were actually having a party, um, right in front of that. And, um, it just happened to be that there was-- there was buildings that were kind of blocking us from where the tent-- to the tent was. So nobody got hurt. But if that building-- those buildings weren't blocking, people would a got hurt, 'cause we had a-- we had a big party, like, on the other side of that building. Um, so, yeah, we had a bunch of close calls.

GAYHEART: What's the feeling like when you're being mortared?

MURPHY: (laughs) You know, it's funny each-- well it changed. I mean at first you're just-- I mean it-- actually what's funny is-- is at first it was instinct. Like, we-- we heard the first hit and I remember 51:00me and my friend, um, my roommate (laughs) she-- we both yelled, "Incoming." 'Cause that's what you're taught to do. You're taught, you know, from basic training on that when you hear something like that hit, you yell "incoming" and you drop. So we both yelled "incoming" together and dropped. And of course everybody else in-- I think we were in the-- we were in the tent at the time 'cause that was-- we most got mortared at night. Everybody else in the tent dropped. Um, and then we got-- we got-- we had, like, a bunker, um, underneath, uh, like a ground-- in-ground. So then once everything, like, got quiet we ran into the bunker. Um, and that's-- so at first you're-- at first you're like, "Oh my God, I can't believe we just got mortared." You know? And then-- you know, then your medical knowledge kicks in, you're like, "Oh did anybody get hurt?" So then, you know, our next step is to go right to the hospital. And luckily at first nobody got hurt. We didn't have any problems with that, like they kept hitting bare-- well, as time goes on you get mortared every night, (laughs) you tend to get used to it. So, like, several times I woke up on the floor because you get mortared and it's just instinct in your head, and I would just roll onto the ground. So I would wake up and I'd be like, Oh, yeah, we-- and-- and of course they're still-- there's still things hitting. So you-- you still-- you know you're getting mortared, but that's-- what-- just before you even wake up your bod-- mody-- tell-- your mind tells 52:00you just to roll on the ground. So I woke up on the floor several times in my sleeping bag, rolled with my sleeping bag on the ground. So, (laughs) um, yeah. So that was-- that was, um, fun.

GAYHEART: So did you ever have to run to the aid station?

MURPHY: Like to take care of people?

GAYHEART: To take care of--

MURPHY: Yeah, as time went on, the more-- they-- they-- so, like they started getting more accurate. So we had, um, let's see, um, I don't think we had any-- any su-- we had nobody on base when it got mortared actually needed surgery. 'Cause, you know, we only do the surgical part of it. Uh, but we did help the battalion aid station, uh. We had a bunch of MPs got hit one time, uh, and they all had, like, little shrapnel wounds and stuff. So, nobody got seriously seriously injured. Um, but we had to go in there and help 'em, like, take out shrapnel out of people and just to get 'em back to duty and that kind of thing. Um, but actually right after we left though, um, towards the end when they left, they actually, um, they actually had a serious one on base where somebody actually got-- well, he was killed on base from a mortar. So, 53:00once-- once again we were lucky that we left right before that. So.

GAYHEART: What's the mood like when somebody's killed or hurt on base?

MURPHY: (laughs) Well, we had a lot of people-- you know, from off-- most-- most people that we-- I mean most of my patients died. So, I mean just-- it's-- it's the-- it's just how the job is. Like we're there to save the one percent of people who aren't gonna make it. So like in-- that's what Desert Storm, what they found was there was people who could have made it, you know? They either bled out or whatever, they could have made it if they didn't have to go so far to a combat, um, um, support hospital; so that's what they made us. So that they can get us-- so we-- we were closer so they can get-- get to us quicker, we could stop any, you know, lifesaving-- or do any lifesaving stuff and then get-- move 'em out. So, um, what was your question? There was a reason why I was telling that.

GAYHEART: What-- what was the mood like--

MURPHY: Oh yeah.

GAYHEART: when someone's injured--

MURPHY: So most people that we got were off base that were brought back on. Uh, and so we had a lot of people die. (laughs) Um, and it's just somber. Like, it-- it depends on if it's-- you know, we-- we had kids that were brought in. We had a lot of Americans, some Iraqis. So you 54:00had anger when there was an ang-- when there was an Iraqi enemy that just shot and killed a bunch of people. But they still-- we still have to take care of 'em. So, you know, there's-- there's-- you know, a lot of, um, anger and that kind of stuff. The Iraqi families, their families would come there on base, so we had them outside crying. They-- I mean they're a very, um, emotional people. So the-- at least-- at least the ones I met were very emotional and they'd be on the ground screaming and crying and, you know, just very-- very emotional people. So, and then as far as when it came to a soldier, you'd have their commanders checking out-- I mean you'd have their-- their-- there'd be, like, half their unit in-- in our hospital just trying to find out, you know, where we are in the surgery and what's going on. Um, so and, you know, of course the commanders are always coming in and checking on 'em, and asking us, you know, how-- like "How's it going," you know, "What's, um," you know, "What's-- what's the situation," that kind of thing. Uh, so but it's just-- I think afterwards, like, everybody just kind of went their separate ways. Like once, you know, when we lost somebody, um, I think everybody-- you know, we cleaned up 'cause it's a mess and we had to clean up. Um, but I think everybody just went their separate ways. Like people-- you know, I think (laughs) although we started out very cohesive-- 55:00as a cohesive unit and we were always together, I think toward-- I think we started to, like, find our own groups outside of the unit, just because, I think it-- I don't-- I don't-- I don't-- like I guess if you don't have to be with each other, you don't-- like you have to talk about it; so that you can go to somewhere else. I don't-- I don't really know why we did that, but a lot of us did that. And that's what would happen, we'd all go to our own little-- like our one friend that wasn't in the unit. You know? That we'd go to that person. So, and I don't know if they talked about it or not. So I-- I talked about it. But I don't-- no, I don't think everybody did. So.

GAYHEART: How did it affect you?

MURPHY: Um, you know, (laughs) I like to say that it didn't really-- I'm the kind of person-- okay first-- first of all in surgery you have to understand there's a sheet up. So you don't have to connect with that person, um, face to face. You can focus on the injury. And that's really what you need to do when you're over there, because if you don't focus on the injury-- injury, you're gonna be-- you're gonna drive yourself crazy. So, like, for me, my focus when I was doing surgery was on the injury. What does the doctor need? What does he need me to do? This is what we're-- you know, I can't do anything about this right 56:00now, about the, you know, the person. I-- I can just fix their injury. Um, but I think-- and then I didn't really want to know too much about them if they passed away because then I think it brings more of a personal-- and I know it sounds kind of bad, but it was my-- it was the way I save-- it's a way I kept myself sane. I just didn't-- a lot-- like I-- like I had a nurse who-- he-- he worked on everything. I mean he has people-- he has everything down about people and he knows, you know, how many kids they had, you know, anything he could find out. It's-- it's just-- he just-- it's-- I guess that's how he dealt with it. He wanted to know. I didn't want to know 'cause I felt, like, you know, it-- it was just-- I felt like if I knew, then it made it more personal. So-- now there was times you-- you couldn't stop it from being personal. But, um, the little-- the less I knew-- like I-- I could see somebody that, you know, I helped, you know, remove their arm. I could see 'em now and not have any idea who that person was. So I just-- I just really tried to avoid that part of it. So-- and I think that's why I don't have problems today, so.

GAYHEART: What about the people that-- that did have problems?


MURPHY: Yeah, we have that. That one-- the one-- the one girl who was new, brand new, and she was-- I was kind of like her person to look up to. She struggled a lot and she's-- she's actually got out for PTSD-- for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Um, she struggled when she was there. Like every patient she would cry, you know? She would come to me, like "I don't understand how can you-- you know? How-- how are you just sitting here?" Like "How are you not crying? How are you not upset?" You know, "I don't understand." Especially when we had kids, the kids really bothered her. So she-- she really struggled with it. And, um, she was only-- like I said, she-- she had just got in. She probably wasn't even at a year when we got deployed. And she got out I think within a year after we got back. So she-- I think-- I think she was only in-- I think she only served three or four years at most, and she got out for PTSD. So-- so and she's the one-- one of the ones I'm closest, I keep close contact with. So.

GAYHEART: Well, here's an interesting thought. You said that you had a very linear childhood--

MURPHY: Um-hm.

GAYHEART: meaning that your parents didn't rear you in a way that was-- 58:00that you-- where you all showed a lot of emotion to each other.

MURPHY: Um-hm.

GAYHEART: How do you think that lends itself in the surgery room?

MURPHY: I think that probably-- it-- 'cause I-- I think that probably helped. I think-- I think my experience in surgery helped too. I-- I think-- I think it was a com-- combination of stuff. But, I mean 'cause I had already done some surgeries, and now I had never seen-- I had seen people-- like I had seen harvestings where they-- harv-- harvest your organs. But I had never actually seen somebody die before that. Um, but I think that I was at-- better able to focus on the problem at hand. Like I had learned that in surgery. But, yeah, I think with my family that probably is probably a factor, that, uh, that I'm able to, like, control-- I'm very in control of my emotions. That's just how I am. So, um, for the most part; I mean, not 100 percent, but for the most I'm very in control of my emotions and I think that's probably why, 'cause it-- 'cause I learned that as a child, that, you just-- you-- you stay very in control of your emotions. And I don't think that she could handle-- could do that. So, yeah, it-- I think it definitely made a difference. (laughs) So.


GAYHEART: What do you think it would have been like if you couldn't? Would you have been in right now?

MURPHY: Probably not, no. No. Because we've seen-- I mean you gotta understand, we've seen-- I believe the nurse who would-- took down all the, um, stat-- you know, who kept all the things. I think he said that we saw thirty-six patients, and this is serious patients. And I think we only saved five of them. So, and-- and that's what we're there for. I mean we're only there to save the one per-- I mean you can't-- you know, most people came in and their hearts-- they were already-- their heart had already stopped, um, so we would, um, I hope this doesn't gross anybody out: but we would, you know, cut their chest open and perform open heart car-- chest compressions. Well, one of the ER doctors at one point told us that really only-- you-- you save-- by doing that you can only save less than one percent of patients who heart-- who had-- who had trauma. So not like a cardiac-- not somebody who had, um, it's hard for me to not use medical language. Um, not 60:00patients who would-- had a disease, you know, or had a heart attack or something like that. But a trauma patient, somebody who was hit, you know, either in a car accident or by, you know, uh, a weapon or whatever, you only save-- you could only save less than one percent of those people. So, and that's pretty much-- I mean we saved probably more than that (laughs) actually. So that's--


MURPHY:-- probably good. (laughs)

GAYHEART: Well, how are you a different soldier than after the Iraq war?

MURPHY: Like because of the Iraq war? Um, how did I change? Well, (laughs) I think-- I think I probably-- well I think I've grown in general, 'cause, um, I also have more rank. And I think I also-- I learned to respect people a little more. But, um, I don't know. I think-- I don't know how I'm a different soldier. I know that I appreciate what I have more. I mean, you know, I hugged a tree when I came home 'cause I was missing my trees. (laughs) You know? Um, you know, I appreciate showers. We-- we didn't have showers for months and months. I mean we made a field shower. But we didn't have real showers 61:00for the first couple months. You know, I appreciate showers. Uh, you know, I appreciate clean water, 'cause we didn't-- we had to ration our water, um, 'cause we only had bottled water that was clean for a while. Eventually they got us clean water, but we didn't have clean water for a while. So I appreciate things a lot more. Um, I think I have my experience and that-- for future, um, things is better. You know? I think if-- I think if I were to go back I would do better-- I would do better at my job, um, you know, than I-- than-- than I did before. And I think I did well, but I think I would do even better. So.

GAYHEART: Right. So (coughs) tell us briefly about the story about how you met your husband.

MURPHY: Oh, (laughs) okay. Alright. Um, well uh, we were actually-- we actually were on our way back, um so and actually-- I was actually dating somebody else before I left for, oh, quite a while, and we were kind of off and on and everything. So I was kind of, like, stuck on him the whole time I was over there. Um, and you know, I had a lot of guys, 'cause, you know, Army girls have a lot of guys interested in them; it's just because there's so few of us. So I had a lot of guys 62:00interested, but I was kind of like, Enh, enh, enh, enh. You know? I didn't really pay attention to anybody. While we were-- um, we went-- drove from Iraq to Kuwait and you stay in Kuwait for a little bit to, like, clean off your equipment and all that kind of stuff. And (laughs) um, to make a long story short; actually his friend who looks very similar to him was-- actually kept following me around the gym. And I was getting really annoyed, because he's good looking, but, you know, he'd put himself in front of me all the time. This is his friend. He'd put himself in front of me. And I'm like-- so finally I got-- so I was like-- I was like, who is this, like, conceited person putting himself in front of me. But anyways, well, then we saw my-- who-- my-- my husband later and I thought it was that guy. (laughs) So I'm like, you know what, if he's gonna put himself in front of me all the time, and I needed a foosball player, so I asked him to play foosball. I went up to my husband and I said, you know, "You want to come play foosball with me?" And this whole time I'm still thinking it's this other kid. And actually I was more annoyed with him than anything, but I just felt like-- I just, you know, felt like, "Okay, somebody's gotta break this ice here. And you're dumb for putting yourself in front of me, so I'm gonna ask you." So I still didn't realize-- spent some time with him that night. Just-- just talking, 63:00you know, he's-- you know, we just talked a lot and stuff like that. Next day we're-- my friends and I were in the gym and they were-- (laughs) and they were both in the gym, him and his buddy. And I was like, "Oh," 'cause that's when we realized-- 'cause then you could tell the difference. But they were close enough if you didn't real know somebody. So anyways, after that-- but it worked out because I would never have dated his friend, but-- long term-- but you know, obviously I'm dating my husband long term 'cause I'm married to him. So that's how we met. And it really-- nothing really kicked off until we actually got back to Fort Dix. We both deployed out of the same place 'cause he was Army National Guard, so we both deployed out of-- of Fort Dix. So I went back to Fort Dix and he-- we-- he went-- he came there shortly after us. And then we just started talking and, um, we dated long distance for a year before we-- before I actually moved up there, or (clap) down here to Kentucky. So.

GAYHEART: So you moved to Kentucky--

MURPHY: Um-hm.

GAYHEART:-- after you got back from Iraq?

MURPHY: Um-hm.

GAYHEART: And from there you went to the University of Kentucky?


GAYHEART: To study?

MURPHY: Um, actually the reason why I came here is because of the PA program for the masters degree. Um, and I figured I'd get a better chance of getting into the masters degree if I went here for undergraduate. So I did my, um, I got my undergraduate in biology, a 64:00BS-- a bachelors of science in biology.

GAYHEART: And what was that like coming to-- coming back to school after you'd been to Iraq, after you'd been active duty for a while?

MURPHY: Yeah, I think-- (laughs) you know, I get really frustrated with people with-- with-- especially in this school because it's, um, a lot of younger kids. And I'm a non traditional student. Um, I get frustrated with disrespect when people are talking, um, and the professor, I get very frustrated with that. Um, so and-- and yeah, so it's really frustrating for me. I get-- I get frustrated when people are on their computers on Facebook. Um, when people are-- who-- like rude to the professors. You-- you know, trying to argue a test point or something like that. So I-- I get very frustrated with, um, younger kids. And that may be just due to my age. But, uh, I didn't really have too many adjustment problems. So.

GAYHEART: Did you feel different than the other students?

MURPHY: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah; I mean I didn't really make any friends 65:00here (laughs) um, on my undergraduate because everybody was younger than me. And even the ones that were my age, and I did meet people my age, they didn't-- they were on a completely different level than I was. Um, they just didn't-- there was no-- I don't want to say they didn't understand, 'cause I probably didn't really tell 'em about my experience, I didn't-- I don't really like-- I'm not the kind of person that-- I don't-- I might have told 'em I was in the military, but I probably didn't go into all the details. But I just think that they wouldn't understand, so I just-- you just don't bother to tell 'em. You know? So but they-- but they wanted to go out and party and, you know, I like to go out and hang out and stuff, but I'm not gonna go to, like, a frat party. I did go to one and-- 'cause I was just gonna try it. And I was out. I was gone. It-- it was not fun. (laughs) So.

GAYHEART: So you're on a-- you're on a different plane.

MURPHY: Yeah, yeah. And this is-- and this is a twenty-four year old girl, and I was twenty-four at the time that I went to this frat party with. And I was, like, and of course, you know, I don't drink and drive either, I'm very particular about that. And, "Oh, I'll drive. I'll drive," that's what she kept telling me. And then she started drinking. So I stopped drinking. Do you see? And that's the last time I ever went out with her, because, you know, it-- it's just-- you know, and I had fun. It was alright. But it wasn't-- it's not-- it wasn't, 66:00like, you know, I had fun hanging out with my military guys. You know? I like playing cards and that kind of stuff. So.

GAYHEART: So when you put yourself next to another female biology major--

MURPHY: Um-hm.

GAYHEART:-- you know, you're twenty-four. You've been to Iraq and-- and you've taken a shot at school once, but you were deployed. What's, you know, what do they-- what do they think? What do-- do they ask you a lot of questions?

MURPHY: Um, I don't really talk to people. I mean now-- okay, now it's different 'cause I'm in a smaller group of people that are-- we're a close knit class. But, like, then I didn't really talk to anybody. The few people I did talk to-- I mean I really have-- most-- most people ask me when they do find out, they-- before-- before the election they would ask me about what I think about President Bush, you know? What do I think about the war? Do I-- you know, do I agree with the war? That kind of stuff. But nobody-- nobody-- none of those younger kids really asked me about that kind of stuff. They just-- even-- I don't think-- I don't remember that-- that twenty-four year old even asking me about my experiences in Iraq. And I don't know if I even told her I was in Iraq. So.

GAYHEART: Did you kind of sh-- did you kind of shelter some of that 67:00stuff?

MURPHY: Yeah, I don't really-- I mean first of all there's a lot of-- I mean it's-- it's-- it's a long-- I mean there's a lot of stories. Um, but I don't know. I-- I mean unless-- I-- I don't-- I don't-- I don't really tell people about that unless they ask. You know? I mean if they ask I have no problem telling you. But most people I-- unless you physically ask me, "Oh, did you go to Iraq," I don't generally say, "I went to Iraq."

GAYHEART: Alright.


GAYHEART: Anybody ask you the-- the coveted question, "Did you kill anybody?"

MURPHY: You know what's funny, nobody's ever asked me that. And I don't know if it's 'cause I'm in the medical field or I-- 'cause, I mean, you know, I'm always very medical, or I don't know if they just assume that I didn't. But nobody's ever asked me that. I think that people have asked me if I saw people die. They-- they've asked me that, which obviously the answer is "too many times." But, um, but yeah, people asked me if I-- if I saw anybody die and I said, "Yeah." So. It's probably 'cause--


MURPHY:-- I'm a female. I bet that's why they didn't ask me. (Gayheart laughs) I bet-- I bet it is. I bet it is, now that I think about it, I bet it's 'cause I'm a female, that's why they never ask me that.

GAYHEART: That could be. Speaking of that, it's a good segue, um, 68:00a-- a big issue right now with, um, veteran ad-- advocacy groups, um, Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, um, of America, one of the things that they're focusing on is-- is the transition of, uh, female soldiers back into the civilian world and, um, and the re-- and retaining them in the military.


GAYHEART: And, um, I kind of had a series of questions in lieu of that. Um, you know, with-- with you being eleven-year veteran--

MURPHY: Um-hm.

GAYHEART:-- um, that's still currently serving in the United States military, you know, does the military give you the-- the same opportunities as your male counterparts?

MURPHY: No. No. No- I'd love to say yes; I mean I love the military. But I mean it-- I-- you can't say that when you don't let us be in the infantry. You can't-- you can't say that when we're barred from certain areas and the men are not barred from certain areas. Um, so no, I don't get the same opportunities. Uh, I think it's getting more 69:00common as far as rank, that girls are-- that women are becoming more, uh, you know, higher-- you know, higher up in rank. Uh, I think that's becoming more common as we go. But there's still a double standard, I mean, in-- as far as sexual harassment goes. You know? The-- I-- I get that every year. And, you know, that's all relative. (laughs) So, it happens all the time. So.

GAYHEART: Well, has career progression been an issue for you?

MURPHY: Not because I'm a female. Um, when I switched from-- or at least I don't think it's 'cause (laughs) I'm a female. When I switched from Army to Air, that messed up my rank. But that-- I took-- I knew that going into that. Uh, so I didn't-- so I-- I took that hit initially. Um, I do think that the Air Force is probably-- they've probably been better about initiating my, um, promotions than the Army. I was a little behind on my promotion at the Army and it wasn't-- I mean I was-- I was an E4 doing an E5's job. So it wasn't because I didn't do my job or anything like that, it's just 'cause they weren't 70:00very-- they didn't initiate it. You had to be more responsible for yourself, I think, than in Air Force. So.

GAYHEART: You-- you talked about sexual harassment.

MURPHY: Um-hm.

GAYHEART: Um, a-- a big, black eye in the military is the sexual assault that happens.

MURPHY: Um-hm.

GAYHEART: Was that ever--

MURPHY: I didn't-- I mean I never had any sexual assaults, um, although I do know one girl in AIT who had one, and actually she was Army and it was an Air Force guy, uh, and, you know, we all went to hotel on our-- you know, you get-- you get let off for the weekend and we all went to hotel and drank a little too much and stuff like that. Um, but she never told anybody. We told her to tell, but I think she was just too afraid of getting in trouble, um, because she wasn't-- we weren't supposed to be at that hotel. Um, so, but I know-- I know that happened. Um, but, you know, I-- I think-- I think the sexual harassment that happens more commonly I would say is the more, like, just what they talk about, like-- like lewd jokes, and-- especially Army, Army. And I will be honest, Marines aren't very good about that either. (laughs) Um, lewd jokes and, you know, making-- just making 71:00sexual comments and you know, not-- and it's not-- and it doesn't-- it-- it's hard to perceive it as sexual harassment, um, from my perspective because I don't feel offended by that. Um, unless they're, like, coming onto me. And a lot of 'em aren't coming on to you, a lot of 'em are just-- that's just how guys talk. You know? But that's the problem, is we-- is I-- people like me keep saying that, and it-- it-- and it makes, you know, I don't say that to people normally, but, you know, if you-- if-- if people like me, who think like that, and there's too many of us who think like that, and we gotta stop doing that. So.

GAYHEART: Well what challenges did you face when coming home? You know, what-- what challenges did you face with, you know, if you relived it, you know, every night you would have the same dream or--


GAYHEART:-- if there was something that you-- you carried a lot of stress with? What are some things that were really hard for you when coming home?

MURPHY: Yeah, I think I-- I must adjust really well. I'm-- I'm not saying that it wasn't-- it wasn't perfect, I'll-- I'll give you some examples. But I-- I think I do adjust very well. Um, plus, um, I 72:00didn't have to, like, rush into, like, going back-- I think some active duty people have to-- have to go right to their job. You know? And I didn't have to do that. Um, you know, I had enough money saved up that I didn't have to worry about that. I kind of just went to school and didn't have to worry about that. But I did (laughs)-- did have a couple times where, um, I remember sleeping one time in my bed and I was downstairs and my parents were upstairs and they must have dropped something. I don't-- I don't-- I don't know, but they must have done something. And it triggered me. And I started rolling. And luckily, 'cause that was a pretty high bed, I caught myself before I rolled off the bed. (laughs) 'Cause, you know, just from that-- whatever it was, it triggered my-- it triggered my instinct to roll-- you know, it-- from our mortar attack. 'Cause we got mortared so much that it just became instinct. The other thing I had a trouble with, which I think other people are like, "Well, yeah, that makes sense." Um, and I love fireworks. Love 'em, love 'em, love 'em. That's part of me being patriotic and July 4th; love July 4th. I couldn't be around fireworks for, like, a whole year. 'Cause, like, my heart would start racing, um, you know, I mean I feel like my-- I feel like my heart's beating out of my chest. My pulse would start racing. I would get a lot of anxiety about it and stuff. Um, I forced myself to be around it so that I didn't have to, um, you know, deal with that. Or so I-- so I-- so I could get back to dealing with that. But, uh, you know, every-- 73:00every once in a while, you know, something like that will still-- I-- my heart beats probably a little faster than probably a normal person with that. But it's not, like, bad or anything like that. And then the other day I was actually thinking about this, it's funny you brought this up. I was thinking about this the other day, I don't like to watch shoot-- I call 'em "shoot 'em up, bang, bang" movies, like The Departed where they shoot and kill everybody. I don't like to watch those kind of movies. And I wasn't like that before I went to Iraq. I don't-- I-- it makes-- and I-- and it's not that I-- I enjoy it, I like-- I like the movie, like I like the plot and I'm like, Oh, this is a really interesting movie. But the entire time my heart's beating and, um, you know, uh, I-- I get that same feeling that I used to get when-- with-- with-- with, uh, you know, the fireworks. Like that just, like, where I-- I-- I feel like I'm all, like, tight and uptight and anxious. And I just-- so I-- I-- so my-- my husband watches it by himself now. (laughs) I don't watch those with him because it-- just-- it doesn't make me-- it makes me very uncomfortable. So I think that's probably about it. Nothing big.

GAYHEART: So this is kind of a three part question. Um, you know, (coughs) more than 212,000 uh, women have served over in Iraq and 74:00Afghanistan, that's 11 percent of the total force.


GAYHEART: According to some statistics out there, uh-- uh, this is according to those statistics--

MURPHY: Um-hm.

GAYHEART:-- how do you feel about that statistic?

MURPHY: That-- oh, I think that's sad that that's only 11 percent. And I think, yeah, I think it's sad it's only 11 percent. I didn't realize-- I mean I guess I would have assumed it was more, but I think being in the medical field you're surrounded by a lot more females. So you don't get the entire gist. So I guess it's not really surprising when I think about it. 'Cause I guess you have the infantry and all those parts that you don't really get involved in. Um, but I think-- I think we need to make it more female friendly so-- for-- so-- so girls will go, so females will go into it. I mean we have a lot to offer, um, and, you know, those people that say, "Well, you know, a man's gonna worry about, you know, worry about you more than his buddy if you get hurt." Well, that's not my fault. I mean-- and I don't-- I don't 75:00know if that's necessarily true. As-- I think it might have been true, you know, fifty years ago when they were still opening car doors for us. (laughs) But that doesn't happen anymore. So, I mean I-- I don't- - I don't see that, uh, I don't see that being a problem. But, at-- but personally it's not my problem. So I don't know. I think that's kind of sad. I don't know.

GAYHEART: Well, what about the fact that over 120 have been killed in action?

MURPHY: I think that's part of our job. You know? I-- I mean, I think we're lucky it's only 120. I mean, uh, my guess would be that-- that's-- that's a lot less than 11 percent of the total force. So I mean I think we're lucky. I mean and obviously that has to do-- a lot to do with the fact that we're not in infantry type positions and stuff like that. But um, I think that's part of your job. And I think if you join the military, especially now, you need to realize that that's something that may happen to you, and you have to accept that. And you have to be realistic about it; I think a lot of people aren't-- they join the military for the wrong reasons and they're not realistic about what may happen to them. So, but I don't think it's any more problem than guys. So.

GAYHEART: Okay, well what about the fact that women are leaving the 76:00military at higher rates than males?

MURPHY: Yeah, I don't know-- I don't know-- well, I-- I won't-- I won't say I don't know why it is. I really don't know what that is. 'Cause I don't feel like my-- I don't-- and I don't feel like-- and now I'm Air Force now, it's different. But I don't-- even if, like, in the Army, like I couldn't have got a certain rank because I was a female. Um, I don't know. You'd have to ask somebody why-- I-- you'd-- you'd have to ask-- I guess-- I guess you'd have to-- ask-- ask-- I don't, I'd be interested to know why those girls left, like what was their reasoning? Was it just because, you know, "Well, I just want to do my six years now." Or was it because of things that happened to them. And I think that sadly my-- sadly enough it might be because of that. Um, so.

GAYHEART: I think it might be.

MURPHY: Yeah. (laughs)

GAYHEART: Do you carry any stress from day to day about any of your experiences?

MURPHY: You know, I-- I-- I would always say no. (laughs) I-- I feel like I don't. I don't feel like I have problems. But I think, um, 77:00sometimes you can have things that you can be a little more, like, you're anxious about or frustrated about and you don't realize it might be related to it, like, the other day in class I got very upset because people were attacking the instructor. Like I felt like they were being, you know. And the-- the environment was a really hostile environment and I had to leave. Like I had-- I had to leave class because I felt like it was a hostile environment. I had to e-mail the instructor later and told her why I left. But I had to leave because I didn't like that environment. So it makes me wonder is-- is that because I don't like-- you know, I mean I can deal with it overseas. I can-- I'm happy to go back overseas and do-- deal with it. But I think I didn't expect it in that situation. So I don't-- I don't-- I don't think I have problems, but maybe that could be something, you know, that's, like, residual. So.

GAYHEART: What's different about-- what is the university doing now, if they have done anything, that's different today than it was when you were in undergrad?


MURPHY: Actually, (laughs) and I wish people would realize this, the veterans' group has done a lot. Um, when I was in undergrad, I mean the-- the VA, if I'm not mistaken, (laughs) and I didn't even really use 'em, not the VA, but the-- the veterans coordinator or whatever, I think she had her own little cubical in-- in the registrar's office, and that was it. Like that was what she got, or he or whoever it was. I mean as you can tell I really didn't know much about 'em. Um, and now it's like you guys have your own office-- they have their own office. You know, they have their own group. Um, you know, it's-- I think-- I think it's a different atmosphere on campus because of the veterans' group. Um, and I wish people who weren't here three years ago would realize that, because I think-- I think-- I think they would be more appreciative of what the veterans' group has done for them since-- since they've-- you know, I think it's only been, what, a year or two? So, you know, I-- I-- I think it's definitely a different-- I think it's-- I think it's-- I think it-- it still needs-- it still needs to go further. But I think there's definitely a diff-- different atmosphere on campus.

GAYHEART: Are you proud of your service?


MURPHY: Oh, 100 percent, absolutely. Absolutely. I'm very proud of, um, I mean I wouldn't be still in if I wasn't proud of my service, but I'm very proud of my service. Um, like I said, people ask me questions, I'll tell 'em about it. You know? They can read my journal of overseas. You know? I'm happy to show people about that kind of stuff. So.


MURPHY: Why? Um, well I think the way when I grew up, like I said, I grew up being proud-- like-- like-- like-- like American pride. You know? I-- that's-- I grew up like that. But, um, (laughs) I've worked hard, I think, in general, to-- I've worked hard with the military. I mean I know I'm only-- I shouldn't say I'm-- I'm only-- I'm only a National Guard, I'm only a reservist. But I really have done a lot for the military. I mean I really work very hard when I'm there and I actually do stuff, not just on the weekends, and I don't get paid for it. Um, so I think-- I feel like-- I feel like just anything else, you have pride in your work and I have pride in how hard I've worked and I have pride in-- on the time that I spent overseas and what I went through and, um, the fact that I did save people's lives. I mean I really did 80:00save people's lives. There's-- there's five people out there that are still walking around today because, you know, not just me, but be-- you know, my-- my entire unit, because we saved their life. So I think I'm very-- just proud of, you know, what I've done. So.

GAYHEART: Well, what are your goals in life?

MURPHY: What are my goals in life? Well, right now I'm just trying to get through the PA (laughs) program. Um, you know, graduate from the PA program in 2012, uh, Ja-- July. And, you know, get a job as a PA. I'm considering going doing VA actually, doing-- doing veterans' affairs, with-- um, to be a PA there. And I'm definitely gonna stay in the military. I'm gonna at least do twenty. From there I'll take it from there. (laughs) You know, I'm not quite sure if I'm gonna do more than twenty. I don't know-- I don't know if I'm-- I'm a more than twenty kind of person. But I'm definitely gonna take it to twenty. Um, we get-- get my commission, 'cause right now I'm an, uh, E6, so I'm gonna get my commission after I get out of my masters degree. And have kids as soon as I get out of school. So that's pretty much it.

GAYHEART: So what if your kid comes to you when they're seventeen and says, (Murphy laughs) "Mom, come sign this."

MURPHY: (laughs) I'm fine with it. My husband's not. But we've talked about this. Um, but I'm fine with it. You know, I-- I-- I-- and maybe 81:00I'll feel different when-- and I'm not a parent. So I think people are parents, they tell you, "No, you're gonna feel different when you're a parent." But as of right now I'm fine with that. Like, you know, I want to encourage my kid to do whatever they want to do. And if-- and if-- if they say "I don't want anything to do with the military" I'm fine with that too. But, you know, I would be proud of my, um, kid if they went into the military. So who knows how I'll feel after I have kids. (laughs)

GAYHEART: Right. Well I really appreciate, uh, you sitting down and sharing your story with us today.


GAYHEART: And that's pretty much it.

MURPHY: Alright.


CAMERAMAN: Go ahead and-- uh, do we have anything we want to show off or--

GAYHEART: Well, no, um--

MURPHY: (laughs) 'Cause I didn't really bring anything. I have a journal, (laughs) I could show the front page.

CAMERAMAN: That ----------(??)--

[End of interview.]

0:10 - Introduction / hometown and childhood

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Partial Transcript: --say and spell your name for me?

Segment Synopsis: Stephanie Lynn Murphy is introduced. She talks about the branches of the military that she has served in and how long she has been involved with the military. She discusses her childhood, including growing up with a father who was a former marine.

Keywords: American Legion; Blue collar workers; Brothers; Childhood; Cooks; Fathers; Military; Money; Mothers; PAs; Patriotic; Physician Assistants; Schools; Small towns; Tough

Subjects: Families. Iraq War, 2003-2011--Veterans. United States--Air National Guard. United States. Army--Reserves

GPS: Dunkirk (N.Y.)
Map Coordinates: 42.479444, -79.333889

8:10 - Enlisting

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Partial Transcript: So, when you went to go enlist at seventeen, what was your mindset leading up to that?

Segment Synopsis: Murphy discusses why she decided to enlist with the Army Reserves and the enlistment process. She talks about what her peers were doing while she was becoming involved with the military.

Keywords: Alternative schools; Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test; ASVAB; Boyfriends; Brothers; Careers; Colleges; Enlisting; Focus; Followers; MEPS; Military Entrance Processing Stations; Money; Nursing; Peers; Recruiters; Tech schools; Training

Subjects: United States. Army--Reserves

GPS: Dunkirk (N.Y.)
Map Coordinates: 42.479444, -79.333889

12:42 - Parents' reactions to enlisting

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Partial Transcript: Well, wh, what was your parents' reaction when you came back and told them what you had done?

Segment Synopsis: Murphy talks about how her parents reacted to her decision to join the Army Reserves and whether their opinions changed over time.

Keywords: Acceptance; Brothers; Colleges; Disagreeing; Letters; Packages; Parents; Reactions; Recruiters

Subjects: Families. United States. Army--Reserves

GPS: Dunkirk (N.Y.)
Map Coordinates: 42.479444, -79.333889

15:57 - Academics / changes after 9/11/2001

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Partial Transcript: So, why--well, let me go back. What were your, what were your academics like in high school?

Segment Synopsis: Murphy discusses her academic record. She talks again about why she decided to join the Army Reserves. She talks about enlisting during peacetime and whether training changed after the 9/11/2001 attacks.

Keywords: Academics; Chem warfare; Chemical warfare; Colleges; Convoy training; Deployment; Guerilla warfare; Medics; Money; National Guard; NBC attacks; Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical attacks; Peacetime; POWs; Prisoners of War; Scenarios; Training; Trying; Unrealistic; World War I; World War II; WWI; WWII

Subjects: Iraq War, 2003-2011. September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001. United States. Army--Reserves

21:03 - Boot camp

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Partial Transcript: So, tell me about your boot camp experience.

Segment Synopsis: Murphy discusses her boot camp experiences. She talks about being part of a mixed gender platoon. She tells the story of getting sick during boot camp. She speculates about what her peers were doing back home while she was in basic training and what her life would be like if she had stayed home.

Keywords: "Smoking"; Barracks; Colleges; Drill sergeants; Dunkirk (N.Y.); E5s; Economy; Exercise; Field training exercises; Gender; Illnesses; Letters; Partying; Peers; Platoons; Sickness; Sit ups; Teargas; Walking pneumonia

Subjects: United States. Army--Reserves

GPS: Fort Leonard Wood (Mo.)
Map Coordinates: 37.7401, -92.126275

27:57 - Training

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Partial Transcript: So, after boot camp you went to AIT. And what was your occupation?

Segment Synopsis: Murphy talks about the training she completed after boot camp, including her Advanced Individual Training at Fort Sam Houston and her on-the-job training in Hawaii.

Keywords: Advanced Individual Training; AIT; Friendships; Hawaii; Military Occupational Specialties 91 Delta; MOS 91 Delta; Operating rooms; Parents; Specialists; Surgeries; Surgical technologists

Subjects: Medical care United States. Army--Reserves

GPS: Fort Sam Houston (Tex.)
Map Coordinates: 29.476255, -98.43083

30:41 - Returning home after boot camp and training

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Partial Transcript: So then from there you went back home.

Segment Synopsis: Murphy talks about what she did when she returned home from her training. She discusses whether she encountered any stereotypes about women in the military in her hometown.

Keywords: Active duty; American Legion; Home; Jobs; Patriotic; Stereotypes; Stigmas; Surgical technologists; Veterans of Foreign Wars; VFW; Women in the military; Working

Subjects: Women and the military--United States

GPS: Dunkirk (N.Y.)
Map Coordinates: 42.479444, -79.333889

33:14 - Preparation for deployment after 9/11

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Partial Transcript: Did, um--So you went back and you worked for two years as a surgical tech, um, and then I'm assuming about that time it was 2001 and September 11 attacks happened...

Segment Synopsis: Murphy discusses how her unit prepared for possible deployment after the 9/11/2001 attacks. She talks about where she was attending school when she got deployed.

Keywords: Brothers; Combat training; D'Youville College; Drills; Fear; Husbands; Intensity; Junior colleges; NBC attacks; Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical attacks; PAs; Physician assistants; Schools; Studying; Tents; Training; UK; Working

Subjects: September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001. United States. Army--Reserves University of Kentucky (Lexington, Ky.)

GPS: Dunkirk (N.Y.)
Map Coordinates: 42.479444, -79.333889

37:18 - Learning about her deployment

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Partial Transcript: So, we were talking about, um, how you were surprised with the deployment in the middle of your, uh, undergraduate--

Segment Synopsis: Murphy talks about how she learned she was going to be deployed and how much time she had before leaving. She discusses how her friends and family reacted.

Keywords: Advance teams; Crying; Dunkirk (N.Y.); Friends; Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (N.J.); Parents; Reactions; Roommates; Shocked; Training

Subjects: Families. United States. Army--Reserves

GPS: Fort Dix Army Air Base (N.J.)
Map Coordinates: 40.019167, -74.522778

41:33 - Mobilization / more training

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Partial Transcript: So what was your unit's task when you were going over to Iraq?

Segment Synopsis: Murphy talks about her unit's mission in Iraq. She discusses their mobilization out of Fort Dix, New Jersey and the training they received treating injuries in Miami, Florida. She discusses whether she felt adequately trained before she deployed to Iraq.

Keywords: CASH; Chem training; Combat Support Hospitals; E5s; Fort Dix (N.J.); Infantries; Injuries; Missions; MOB; Mobilization; Ryder Trauma Training Center; Surgeries; Tasks; Units; Weapon training

Subjects: Iraq War, 2003-2011. Iraq. Medical care Turkey United States. Army--Reserves

GPS: Ryder Trauma Center (Miami, Fla.)
Map Coordinates: 25.791525, -80.212575

45:28 - A dangerous situation

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Partial Transcript: Was there any situations where you might have had to fire your weapon?

Segment Synopsis: Murphy discusses how being in Iraq was different from what she expected. She tells a story about a time she thought she might have to fire her weapon.

Keywords: "RPG Alley"; "Suni Triangle"; Baqubah (Iraq); Bases; Camp Anaconda; Camp Warhorse; Convoys; Guns; IEDs; Local people; Locals; Paranoid; Preconceptions; Supply sergeants

Subjects: Balad (Iraq) Improvised explosive devices Iraq War, 2003-2011. United States. Army--Reserves

GPS: Baqubah (Iraq)
Map Coordinates: 33.75, 44.633333

49:38 - Being attacked with mortars

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Partial Transcript: What's another instance that--close call?

Segment Synopsis: Murphy discusses how often her base was hit by mortars, how she reacted to the attacks, and whether anyone was injured.

Keywords: Aid stations; Bases; Casualties; Chow halls; Close calls; Command posts; Duds; Injuries; Instincts; Morale, Welfare, and Recreation tents; Mortars; MWR tents; Tactical Operations Centers; TOCs

Subjects: Iraq War, 2003-2011. Medical care United States. Army--Reserves

GPS: Baqubah (Iraq)
Map Coordinates: 33.75, 44.633333

54:04 - Dealing with casualties and death / how she changed after the Iraq War

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Partial Transcript: What's the mood like when somebody's killed or hurt on base?

Segment Synopsis: Murphy discusses how she and others in her unit dealt with seeing casualties and death. She talks about how it affected her and how the way her parents raised her contributed to her reactions. She discusses how the Iraq War changed her.

Keywords: Appreciation; Casualties; Changes; Childhood; Children; Control; Death; Emotions; Enemies; Experience; Families; Focus; Friends; Impersonal; Injuries; Kids; Moods; Operation Desert Storm; Patients; Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder; Problems; PTSD; Ranks; Respect; Saving lives; Showers; Soldiers; Surgeries; Trauma; Units

Subjects: Iraq War, 2003-2011. Medical care United States. Army--Reserves

GPS: Baqubah (Iraq)
Map Coordinates: 33.75, 44.633333

62:34 - Meeting her husband / going back to school

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Partial Transcript: So, tell us briefly about the story about how you met your husband.

Segment Synopsis: Murphy tells the story about how she met her husband. She discusses how it feels to go back to school after being deployed and whether she talks to anyone about her involvement in the military.

Keywords: Age; Biology; Dating; Death; Disrespect; Drinking; Females; Foosball; Fort Dix (N.J.); Friends; Frustration; Gyms; Husbands; Long distance relationships; PA program; Partying; Physician Assistants program; Schools; Stories; Students; Women

Subjects: Iraq War, 2003-2011. Iraq. Kuwait. United States. Army--Reserves University of Kentucky (Lexington, Ky.) Women and the military--United States

GPS: University of Kentucky (Lexington, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.033333, -84.5

69:00 - Women in the military

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Partial Transcript: A, a big issue right now with, uh, veteran adv, advocacy groups, um, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans, uh, of America, one of the things that they're focusing on is, is the transition of, uh, female soldiers back into the civilian world and, um, and the r, and retaining them in the military.

Segment Synopsis: Murphy discusses whether she feels that women in the military have equal opportunities. She talks about whether she has encountered sexual harassment or sexual assault.

Keywords: Air Force; Career progression; Double standards; Female soldiers; Infantry; Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America; Jokes; Marines; Opportunities; Promotions; Ranks; Sexual assault; Sexual harassment; Transitions; Veteran advocacy groups

Subjects: United States. Army. Women and the military--United States

72:33 - Challenges she faced coming home / more about women in the military / residual effects of being in war

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Partial Transcript: Well, what challenges did you face when coming home?

Segment Synopsis: Murphy discusses the things that were triggers for her once she came home. She talks more about women serving in the military. She talks more about how being deployed still affects her.

Keywords: Adjusting; Female-friendly; Females; Fireworks; Home; Hostile environments; Infantry; Instincts; Killed in action; Leaving; Medical field; Movies; Ranks; Residual effects; Stress; Triggers; Unrealistic; Violence

Subjects: Iraq War, 2003-2011--Veterans. Women and the military--United States

78:46 - Veterans group at UK / pride / goals

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Partial Transcript: What's different about--what is the university doing now, if they have done anything, that's different today than it was when you were an undergrad?

Segment Synopsis: Murphy talks about whether the veterans group has changed UK over the years. She discusses whether she is proud of her military service. She talks about her goals for the future and what she would do if she had a child that wanted to join the military. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Atmosphere; Children; Commission; Goals; Graduation; Journals; Kids; Military service; PA programs; Patriotism; Physician assistants; Pride; Proud; Saving lives; UK; Undergraduates; VA; Veterans Administration; Veterans coordinators; Veterans groups

Subjects: Iraq War, 2003-2011--Veterans. University of Kentucky (Lexington, Ky.) Veterans--Education (Higher)--Kentucky.

GPS: University of Kentucky (Lexington, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.033333, -84.5
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