2017-11-16 / News

Daughter of Korean War hero dedicates benches to senior center

By Sam Tunningley


Carol Olsby, a resident of Seattle, finishes the Alzheimer’s Walk in her father’s honor. Carol Olsby, a resident of Seattle, finishes the Alzheimer’s Walk in her father’s honor. Former Flushing resident Carol Olsby states her father, Thomas J. Murphy, was as enigmatic as he was patriotic. Olsby maintained a close relationship with him for several decades, and yet remained in the dark on much of his past – especially his time in the Korean War.

After his passing last year, Olsby discovered her father’s remarkable history during his time as a service member. In his military trunk bag, which she said had remained untouched and in the same condition since 1953, she found a series of letters to his mother, detailing the grueling conditions of war, the death of his friend and his efforts to take care of two Korean orphans.

Olsby, now residing in Seattle, said her father frequented the Flushing Area Senior Center toward the end of his life. Her mother died when she was 5 years-old, and he found solace in the company of men and women his age. To show her gratitude, as well as honor the memory of her father and local veterans, Olsby donated two commercial benches to the center.


Thomas Murphy, circa 1950, with two Korean orphans. 
Photo courtesy of Carol Olsby Thomas Murphy, circa 1950, with two Korean orphans. Photo courtesy of Carol Olsby “I loved Flushing, and my father loved being here. I could never get him to move here--he said ‘Carol, I am a Michigander.’” Olsby recounted during the bench dedication at the Flushing Veteran’s Day ceremony last weekend. “He was so deeply rooted here.”

Murphy had earned three Purple Hearts for his outstanding service on the front lines, though veterans of the Korean War received little recognition upon returning home. Within the first week of his time in the war, his company went from 250 Marines down to 40.

The experience left him plagued with PTSD nightmares, which worsened with his Alzheimer’s toward the end of his life, but he was never vocal about his suffering. Olsby said by the time her father passed, his disease had progressed to such a degree he believed he was on the frontlines in Korea each time he shut his eyes.

Osby said the senior center was his favorite place to frequent, along with the local YMCA. Murphy, an avid runner, had participated in over 100 races by the time he turned 83.

“The benches that my family are donating to the senior center in my father’s honor are very well made and will be available to visiting seniors well beyond my lifetime,” said Olsby.

Along with the benches, Olsby loaned rare Korean War propaganda kept in her father’s trunk for an exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington.

Return to top

Click here for digital edition
2017-11-16 digital edition