As a young merchant marine, Lt. Murray M. Blum died December 3, 1943 in the North Atlantic swimming to save another man's life. Hear his brother Calvin, niece Robin, and nephew Murray, recount his selfless story of sacrifice during World War II.
CALVIN BLUM: My brother Murray served in World War II. He’s buried in Cambridge, England. Of all my four brothers, my brother Murray stood out the most.
ROBIN BLUM: My uncle, Lt. Murray Blum, was the chief radio operator aboard the Leonidas Polk, and her served in the Battle of the Atlantic.
MURRAY BLUM: My uncle Murray went missing December 3, 1943.
CALVIN BLUM: He lost his life in the North Atlantic, off the coast of Scotland.
ROBIN BLUM: For years my father talked about him as a very gentle man, a lot of humor, and very popular with the ladies. There was a lot of reverence in our household and quiet hush when we talked about Uncle Murray.
MURRAY BLUM: I think the memories that I have of my uncle were really vague but some of the stories my father would tell me would be about him always coming to the rescue of someone who needed help.
ROBIN BLUM: He had an impact on individuals. Everybody he met, I think, found something in him admirable, simply for the fact he made these relationships wherever he went. He was not forgettable.
MURRAY BLUM: My uncle was a person who was very giving, and he was giving to the point where he gave his life for someone else.
ROBIN BLUM: I mean he drowned trying to save a European soldier.
MURRAY BLUM: His ship drifted or rammed into a smaller vessel, and the other vessel sank very quickly.
CALVIN BLUM: Actually there were some survivors in the water yelling for help.
MURRAY BLUM: Everybody was mustered onto the deck from my uncle’s ship, and they took of the boats, one of their life boats was sent into the water to go after men, and there were men in the water everywhere without or with life vests, and trying to cling on to wreckage.
CALVIN BLUM: My brother, at that time, who’s also on deck happened to hear somebody yelling in the distance, “Help me. Help me. I can’t swim.” At that time he noticed the ship was going in the opposite direction, the lifeboat was going in the opposite direction from where this voice was. So he took off his shoes, and leaped overboard. Before he leaped overboard he yelled “Lt. Murray Blum radio operator going overboard.” And then he went overboard, and swam towards this distant voice.
MURRAY BLUM: Hearing the cries of one of the sailors from the other vessel which was beyond the buoy lines, he went after that person because the person was screaming that they couldn’t swim.
CALVIN BLUM: The last they saw it was him swimming towards that voice, and didn’t see him or hear him after that.
MURRAY BLUM: Three weeks later his body washed up in the shores of Scotland.
CALVIN BLUM: Anyone that had children overseas dreaded the words Western Union because it only meant one thing.
MURRAY BLUM: When the family found out that Murray had died, I know from speaking with family members that Calvin was the youngest of all the kids. He was 14 at the time, and was home with Grandma and Grandpa. He heard a knock on the door.
CALVIN BLUM: I answered the door after he rang the bell, and he had me sign for the telegram. After I signed he gave me the telegram. My mother, before I even opened it up, my mother said “Oh my God,” she said. “It’s about Murray.” Anyway, I opened up the envelope and she says “Read it to me. Read it to me.” And I read “The War Department regrets to inform you.”
MURRAY BLUM: I know cause I knew my grandparents that the death of Murray was like their death. They were never the same after Murray died.
CALVIN BLUM: It’s a day I’ll never forget as long as I live.
ROBIN BLUM: I mean he was just a man. He was just an extraordinary man. He was selfless. I want future generations to know, to know his sacrifice.
MURRAY BLUM: He didn’t have to jump overboard to try to save someone, but he did something that many other people would have done also. And so that makes every person in every one of those cemeteries as special as he is. I think that if there’s anything I can tell people who are going to be viewing this, as special as my Uncle Murray was, and as special as he is to me, he’s just like all the young men who are buried in American military cemeteries all over the world.