S1c James Joseph Murphy

Unknown Sailor

S1c James Joseph Murphy

James Joseph Murphy was born Aug. 18, 1920 in Whitehaven, Cumberland in the Lake District in northern  England, the son of Richard and Mary Jackson Murphy. He was the fraternal twin of his sister Marie.

The Murphys came to the United States aboard the S.S. Leviathan on Nov. 3, 1923 and arrived in Bisbee, Arizona on March 1, 1925. Richard found employment as a watchman with the Copper Queen Branch of the Phelps Dodge Mining Corp.

Although Richard and Mary were born in England, they were Irish in culture and devout Roman Catholics by faith.

James and his family lived in Old Bisbee at 303 Oak Ave. He and his sister attended the nearby Loreto Catholic School, located next to St. Patrick’s Church where the family worshiped. James dropped out of Loreto after his first year of high school. He found work as a boiler maker’s helper for Phelps Dodge. James, his parents, and sister Marie became naturalized citizens in 1936.

In January 1941 a Navy recruiter visited Bisbee to sign up men to serve on the state’s namesake battleship. James enlisted on Jan. 31. He was assigned to the U.S.S. Arizona (BB 39), a Pennsylvania-class battleship assigned to the U.S. Pacific Fleet and based at Pearl Harbor.

James was aboard the Arizona on Dec. 7, 1941 when bombers and fighter planes of the Imperial Japanese Navy flying off six aircraft carriers attacked American air and naval installations. He was a seaman first class when he was killed in the attack.

On Sept. 7, 1943, the patrol frigate U.S.S. Bisbee (PF 46) was launched at the Consolidated Steel Shipyard at Los Angeles. Christening her that day was Mary Jackson Murphy. The Bisbee, named after Mr. Murphy’s hometown, received two battle stars for her combat service during World War II and three more during the Korean War. She served in three navies — the U.S., Soviet, and Colombian — before being scrapped in 1962.

VFW Post 836 in Bisbee was named in honor of Mr. Murphy.

In late November 2016, the Bisbee Unified School District conferred an honorary high school diploma on Mr. Murphy in recognition of his service to and sacrifice for his adopted country.


Source: Many thanks to Bisbee historian Mike Anderson for writing this profile. Little had been documented about James Joseph Murphy until Mr. Anderson did the research. He has visited Pearl Harbor many times, and says he always throws a lei on the water for Mr. Murphy.  Navy photograph. This profile was originally shared with the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.

NOTE: If you are a family member related to this crew member of the U.S.S. Arizona, or have additional information, pictures or documents to share about his life or service to our county please contact us through our FAMILY MEMBER SUBMISSION FORM