Why We Serve: Army Captain Embraces Life, Military Service

By Carmen L. Gleason
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 11, 2007 - Much to her parent's chagrin, when Jessica Murphy was in fourth grade she joined the boy's flag football team.

"I was a little 4-foot, 50-pound string bean," she said. "I loved playing, but once I got to the age where the team started tackling, my mom made me quit."

The Milwaukee native said her can-do attitude and tendency to buck stereotypes carried through to her college years when, unbeknownst to her parents, she applied for and was awarded an ROTC scholarship.

After earning a degree in political science from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, in 2001, Murphy was commissioned into the Army's military police corps.

She said her parents weren't exactly thrilled, but once they saw her successes and experiences within the military they were more than supportive of her decisions.

"I've done things that others don't normally get to do," Murphy said, as she listed her experiences in meeting the secretary of defense, working on military assignments associated with presidential visits, and touring the White House.

Murphy is one of eight servicemembers selected by the Defense Department to join the "Why We Serve" outreach program. Members representing each military branch travel to communities across the nation to relate their personal military experiences through speaking engagements ranging from veterans organizations to schools to business groups.

"I've been able to do so many things in six short years," Murphy said. "It's awesome, and I love it!"

Although meeting such dignitaries has been an honor for her, Murphy said that her most fulfilling assignment has been serving as a platoon leader in the 300th Military Police Company at Fort Riley, Kan.

"Honestly there is no better job on this earth," the captain said.

Within a few months of her arrival to the unit at the end of 2002, the 300th MP Company deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Murphy served as a platoon leader for seven months before moving up to become the company's executive officer for the remainder of the year-long combat tour.

Being in charge of every aspect of her soldiers' lives from training and morale, to job evaluations and personal finances, Murphy said that her soldiers became her family.

"It was almost like I was their parent," she said. "I actually call them my kids and stay in touch with them to this day."

The 27-year-old said that other aspects of military life have fit her very well.

Sports have always played an important part in her life from cross-country running and track when in high school to rock climbing and snow boarding while in college.

"The teamwork found among sports teams came naturally to me," Murphy said. "It's very similar to the military too."

Murphy's enthusiasm and zeal for life is apparent when she begins talking about all the things still on her list of things to try.

"My life is all about experiencing 'things,'" she said with a smile. "Life is too short; there are so many things out there to do, and I don't want to be limited by anything."

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