I just found out about the loss in February of an old friend and mentor. Many knew him as “Two Dogs,” a nickname picked up in his younger days from a bawdy joke. I call him the father of Special Tactics Intelligence. All of the rest of us who served in that community worked in his shadow.
Lieutenant Colonel Murphy was my first boss in the Air Force as a Lieutenant right out of Goodfellow. By that time he was long retired and was DAF Civilian at the 720th Special Tactics Group at Hurlburt Field where he served as Director of Intelligence. I was the second officer he hired for ST and for me, the process started while I was still an NCO in the Army. As soon as I found out I had been selected for USAF Officer Training School I started calling around to units looking for possible assignments as an Intel Officer. Joe and I hit it off and he worked behind he scenes over the next year to steer me towards the 720th while I completed my training. It worked out and I ended up being assigned as Joe’s assistant for intelligence programs, although I spent most of my time on the road going to schools and supporting units. I did a short stint down at the 23rd STS, mostly deployed to Operation Desert Thunder, before Joe had me reassigned to Pope as the Chief of Intelligence for the 21st STS. He steered the careers of quite a few of us, officers and NCOs alike, building the ST Intel community from scratch.
Special Tactics owes a lot to that guy. So do I. He always had the wildest stories of his active duty time and pushed me to produce quality intelligence products. He taught me a great deal and was the most supportive boss I ever had. I will miss him.
My heart goes out to Sally and his kids.
Here is Two Dogs’ obituary…
LtCol Joseph Edward Murphy Jr.
1941 – 2021
Fort Walton Beach – Lt. Col. Joseph Edward “Two Dogs” Murphy, Jr. passed away on February 4, 2021 in Fort Walton Beach, FL. Joe was born September 14, 1941 in St. Louis, Missouri to Joseph Edward Murphy and Evangeline Marie Kelly Murphy both of whom predeceased him. Joe grew up in St. Louis, attended St. Louis University High School and St. Louis University where he was a member of AFROTC and was commissioned into the U.S. Air Force on August 23, 1963. He married his high school sweetheart, Sandra Jean Mason, in St. Louis in May, 1964. Together they embarked on an Air Force career that spanned 3 continents, 10 assignments and 28 years. They welcomed a daughter, Kathi, while stationed at Shaw AFB, South Carolina, and a son, Jay, at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia. Traveling to and living in countries all over the world was a tremendous thrill for the family. Together, they worked to absorb as much international experience as possible through travel and engagement with local communities.
Joe began his Air Force career as a cartographer, then spent 8 years as a targeting officer followed by more than 15 years as an intelligence officer. Joe Murphy loved his work in the Air Force, especially working with US and allied Special Operations Forces. He was an enthusiastic mentor to many, including young “troops” who were as sharp-minded and as committed to the U.S. and the Air Force as he was. Joe developed a strong affinity for and connection with Special Operations activities and was privileged to work closely with USN SEALs, USAF Special Tactics, USA Special Forces and similar units from Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia. Over the years, he was given the nickname “Two Dogs” because of an off-color joke he frequently told. His combination of Intel skills and Special Operations interest led to the practice of intelligence-trained operators being inserted into the teams on the ground. This initiative of providing relevant information to operators in the field has undoubtedly saved lives and improved the effectiveness of countless missions. As such and rightfully so, many consider “Two Dogs” to be the “Grandfather of Special Operations Intelligence”. His major awards include the Meritorious Service Medal with Two Oak Leaf Clusters, the AF Commendation Medal with Two Oak Leaf Clusters, the AF Achievement Medal, The AF Outstanding Unit Award with Valor Device and Four Oak Leaf Clusters, The Vietnam Service Medal with Three Stars and the Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm.
Shortly after completing his 28 year active duty service in 1991, Joe returned to Hurlburt Field, where he continued his service to our country for another 23 years as a civilian intelligence expert for a number of AF Special Operations organizations. A patriot and true servant, Joe finally retired from civil service in 2016, after giving a total of 51 years of service to the U.S. Air Force, a record few have ever achieved.
In 1990, Joe was remarried to Maria (Sally) Balaoro from the Philippines who survives him and lives in Mary Esther, Florida. Their son, Joey, provided Two Dogs with many years of enjoyment as a soccer dad and #1 fan of Joey and his friends. Joey lives locally and continues to be involved in soccer.
In addition to Sally and Joey, Lt. Col. Murphy is survived by his daughter, Kathi Heapy and husband, Gary of Shalimar FL, and son, Jay and wife, Terri, of Keystone Heights Florida. He is also survived by sister, Mary K. and husband Mick McGuire of Somerset OH, and sisters-in-law Marisa Lopez and husband Jaime of Ft. Walton Beach, Nimfa and Ramon Bilasano, and Nancy and Gener Baylon of the Philippines. His grandchildren are Nicholas Heapy (Allie), Mary Flores (Daniel), Renee Murphy, and Erin Heapy, and one great- grandson, William Edward Heapy. Joe has several adored nieces and nephews in Ft. Walton Beach, Ohio, and the Philippines. Joe will be missed by all, but most certainly by his very special friends, Sally and Ted Quarles, Chief and Linda Jennings, Sheila and Dennis Quirao, his AF Intel ‘partner in crime’ Jay Clanton, and the worldwide AF SOF and Stray Goose International communities.
A Celebration of Life will be held at the Hurlburt Field Memorial Air Park on March 17, 2021 at 2:00pm. This will be an outdoor event which will offer the safest way that we can gather to honor him during this time. Interment of Lt. Col. Joseph Murphy will be at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia at a future date.
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