115th Fighter Wing family honored at Lambeau Field

  • Published
  • By Tech Sgt. Don Nelson
  • 115th Fighter Wing
Every Green Bay Packer fan remembers their first visit to the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field; the tailgating, sitting on cold bleachers and an opportunity to "catch" a Packer when they score a touchdown and do a Lambeau Leap. For one 115th Fighter Wing family, this first visit to Lambeau was extra special.

As part of a celebration of the National Guard's 373rd birthday, the Green Bay Packers honored several military families for their service and dedication at half- time of their Monday Night Football victory against the Baltimore Ravens.The Murrays were one of the families that were invited to be honored by the team and participate in the ceremony on the 50-yard line. Of the six members of the family, five were on hand for the event with one carrying a picture of the Murray that is deployed to Iraq.

Lt. Col. David Murray, a nurse practitioner with the 115th Medical Group, is deployed to Balad Air Base, Iraq as a flight commander of the intermediate care ward at the Balad Theatre Hospital. Colonel Murray is not the only Murray with military service as all four of his daughters, Jennifer, Kelly, Julie and Jamie are veterans and two of them are current members of the 115th FW.

"I could not be any prouder of my family," said Theresa Murray, who has watched her husband David and all four daughters enlist over the years. "I have to admit that I was a little surprised that they all decided to follow in their father's footsteps."

Colonel Murray joined the Air National Guard when his girls were all under the age of seven. He began as a nurse and later became a nurse practitioner. Theresa said that he served as an inspiration for his daughters over the years.

Following David into service was Jennifer Murray-Alston who went on active-duty with the Army as a military police member stationed in Germany. While serving, Jennifer spent time deployed to Kosovo and has a keen understanding what deployed life is like for her father and her sisters, all who have deployed while serving.

"I don't look at serving as we have done something unexpected," said Ms. Murray-Alston. "To me, it was my privilege and I loved being part of the military and there are many, many other families that have done the same thing we have."

The half-time ceremony honored three other families as well, all with one of their family members currently deployed. Each family was introduced to a sell-out crowd of more than 72,000 fans and then surprised with a personal greeting broadcast on the stadium scoreboard from their deployed loved one.

The second Murray child to enlist was Kelly McMeans who joined her senior year of high school with the Wisconsin Army National Guard's 13th Medical and Dental in Marshfield.  Ms. McMeans served as a medic and deployed to Kuwait during her service.

"The fans response to us was pretty overwhelming, everyone is just so supportive of the military," said Ms. McMeans about the pre-game tailgating event that the Wisconsin National Guard hosted just outside the stadium. "It makes me feel very proud."

The youngest Murrays are a unique story themselves, not only are they both current members of the 115th FW, they are also twins. Staff Sgt. Julie Murray is an armament systems specialist on the F-16 Fighting Falcon with the 115th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and her sister Staff Sgt. Jamie Murray is a supply specialist with the 115th Logistics Readiness Squadron. Jamie has deployed to Kyrgystan and Julie to Iraq and both have deployed to Qatar with the 115th FW.

"The fact that we are all combat veterans is really important because it shows that a lot of military members and families go through the same thing," said Sergeant Julie Murray about the significance of representing all military families in the ceremony. "Having been to the same place by father is deployed, I enjoy talking to him about our shared experience."

The special experience the Murray family had was made more unique because this was a first time many of them had ever attended a Packer game. Not only did they have a chance to go onto the field, the Packers donated a suite for the family to watch the game from as well.

"This was just amazing and it is an honor and a privilege to be here," said Sergeant Jamie Murray. "We do wish our dad was here though because he is the biggest Packer fan in the world and has a whole room dedicated to them."

The overall event with the families and the combined Army and Air National Guard displays presented an opportunity for the Guard to tell its story said Brig. General Don Dunbar, Wisconsin National Guard adjutant general.

"The National Guard is a community based family and that is one of the best connections we make with the Packers," said General Dunbar. "The Packers are a unique part of the National Football League because it is community-owned much like the National Guard, which is totally community based."

Honoring the families is recognition of an important aspect of military service a Green Bay Packer official said.

"The three legged stool for success is the soldier/airmen, employers and the family," said General Dunbar. "In today's environment, if we don't have the support of the family, we are going to fail."