Nebraska nursing helps Murphy extend family's military legacy
Nebraska’s Molly Murphy is extending a family legacy that weaves the dedication of Husker Nation with the leadership of the U.S. Army.
A senior from Lexington, Murphy is a fourth-generation military recruit with plans to be the ultimate in U.S. Army nurses — working near frontlines, stabilizing injured soldiers in a combat support hospital. She is also a third-generation Husker and joins her grandmother and mom as Delta Gamma sorority sisters.
“Being a Husker and serving in the military are traditions in my family,” Murphy said. “I’m a big believer in keeping our legacy going. And, I like the idea of serving my country and helping as much as I can.”
Murphy’s family traces its military roots back to the late 1920s when her great grandfather, Monte Kiffin Sr., father to Husker football player Monte Kiffin Jr., served as company commander of the Lexington National Guard Unit.
The unit has also been led by Murphy’s grandfather, “Big” Jim Murphy, and uncle, “Little” Jim Murphy. Her father, Dan Murphy, also served in the guard unit.
On the Husker side, both Big Jim and Little Jim played on the Nebraska football squad. Big Jim was a team captain in 1956. Little Jim walked on as a Husker defensive back, earning varsity letters on Orange Bowl teams in 1981 and 1982. Murphy’s father and mother, along with other family members, are also Nebraska alumni.
She is the third member of her family — along with Big Jim and Little Jim — to join Nebraska’s ROTC program. And, Murphy is the second in her family to complete Airborne school.
“My grandfather (Big Jim) was in the 872nd Airborne and a Black Hat instructor,” Murphy said. “That training was crazy and intense. But, it felt good knowing my grandfather had been there before me. I figured if he could do it, so could I.”
While most of her journey has followed family paths, she’s charting a new course as the clan’s first woman to enlist in the military.
“It’s been great sharing stories with my family, learning how things have and have not changed in military training and the ROTC program,” Murphy said. “But, I’ve also gotten to experience unique parts of the military through my training to become a nurse.”
Alongside lessons learned in pre-med courses at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and nursing classes through the University of Nebraska Medical Center, Murphy has received military training through duty stations in Chile and Brooks Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas.
“Right before I went to Airborne school two summers ago, I went to Chile to train with the Chilean army,” Murphy said. “That really helped me with my language skills.”
Her training at Brooks Army Medical Center was more hands-on, allowing her to work in the nation’s best intensive care units for burns and one of the most respected trauma units.
“That was easily the coolest experience of my life because they let us do procedures and really learn it,” Murphy said. “I got to pull people off of choppers and take them to the ER. I worked a lot of trauma cases. And, they let us start things like IVs and catheters.
“They let us really help people and that reinforced why I wanted to become an Army nurse.”
During that experience, she also learned about the Army’s combat support hospitals — a modernized version of the mobile Army surgical hospital concept made popular by the MASH movie and television series.
“They throw up a tent and set up an ER and ICU in the same tent,” Murphy said. “Nurses in that situation get to learn and do so much more than in a civilian setting. For me, it’s about the adrenaline of doing that kind of work, using your skills to stabilize wounded soldiers quickly so they can be moved to a hospital for additional care.”
When she graduates in May, Murphy will be commissioned as a second lieutenant and go — as all Army doctors and nurses do — to Brooks Army Medical Center. She’ll complete the basic Army officer leadership course before putting in 10 options for hospitals at which she would like to work. Her top three choices will most likely be Germany, Hawaii and Washington.
Her other military goals include completing ICU training, working in the combat support hospital and, ultimately, serving as a White House nurse.
“You have to be the best of the best even to consider that,” Murphy said. “I figured, with my family, I need to set the bar high.”