MAMARONECK, N.Y. – Mamaroneck’s Leah Murphy grew up hearing her father proudly tell stories about serving in World War II, memories that are especially poignant on the 70th anniversary of D-Day on Friday.
Murphy’s father was not a musical sensation from Liverpool, but his name was John P. Lennon. He served in Battery D of the 386 Anti-Aircraft Artillery in the communications division. He was not part of the June 6, 1944, landings in Normandy, France, but came ashore few days later. He was involved in the Battle of the Bulge in late 1944, Murphy said.
“D-Day was a turning point for the war and thank God that they accomplished the invasion and that they saved a lot of lives by giving up a lot of their lives,” Ed Murray, commander, American Legion Post 90 in Mamaroneck, said.
Lennon, who died in 2012, was Post 90’s last member to serve in World War II. He grew up in New Rochelle in “holes in the shoes, not sure about the next meal kind of poverty,” his daughter said.
So, when he arrived in Europe it was a big deal for him, even though it was in a war. He also believed strongly in what he was fighting for.
“He was somebody who liked a good debate and who was very supportive of people who had dissenting opinions,” Murphy said. “What he fought for meant a lot to him: the freedom of thought; freedom of ideas; freedom of expression. It was a very important value for my father.”
After the war, Lennon went to the Chicago Institute of Television on the GI Bill and went on to work at CBS as a technician for about 45 years. In the early years, Murphy said he would work the camera and hold the boom mike for "The Ed Sullivan Show," "The Jackie Gleason Show," "The Red Skeleton Show" and Ed Murrow. When the Beatles performed on the Sullivan show, he even met John Lennon.
“He was sort of there for all of it,” she said.
Lennon knew his wife growing up in New Rochelle and they got married after he returned from the war. They had four children: John J. Lennon, Christopher, Claire Clayton and Murphy.