This Q&A with UAP’s newest member of its Board of Directors, Mark Murray, dives into his military background, his post-military career, how he learned about UAP, and what led him to actively defend our defenders.
Q: Can you tell us a little about your military background?
My father was a career officer in the Army Air Corps/USAF and served as a Fighter Pilot in the Pacific during WWII and in Korea so I was brought up with the idea that I would serve. It’s just “what you did”. So initially I was enrolled in Army ROTC until I met two Marine Officer Selection Officers at Florida State University and they showed me a photo of an F/A-18 and asked me if I wanted to fly it. Well yeah, I did! So that’s when I signed up for the Platoon Leaders Class (PLC) program. Fast forward to when I graduated and was commissioned a 2ndLt and reported to the Basic School (TBS). All Aviation contracts had to retake the Flight Physical and I was deemed Not Physically Qualified (NPQ) for eyesight. In the Marine Corps’ infinite wisdom, they figured if I couldn’t fly airplanes, I should shoot them down and I was made a Surface to Air Warfare Systems Officer (Hawk and Stinger Missiles) and reported to 2nd Forward Area Air Defense Battery (FAAD), which became Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion (LAAD). I deployed to the Med with 24MAU(SOC) and the Persian Gulf for Operation Earnest Will and Combat Operation Praying Mantis with Contingency Marine Air Ground Task Force (CMAGTF 2-88). After returning to CONUS and serving as the Battalion S-3A and Training Officer, I was transferred to Marine Corps Security Force Company, NAS North Island and I was assigned as the Guard Officer and Executive Officer. After this tour, I was selected to attend the US Army’s Officer Advanced Course at Ft. Bliss, Texas. Upon completion, I was sent to Camp Pendleton California and assigned to 3d LAADBN where I was the S-4, H&S Commanding Officer and Alpha Battery Commanding Officer. It was then that I decided on a change of career and left active duty and joined 4th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company (4th ANGLICO).
Q: What would you consider your biggest achievement(s) during your time in uniform?
Besides graduating from OCS (Officer Candidates School), being commissioned a 2ndLt in the Marine Corps, and putting on those Dress Blues for the first time, I would say it was a combination of several things that were milestones/proud moments in my career. When I became a Platoon Commander and given responsibly for Marines for the first time, then taking them to combat and repeatedly thinking in my mind “have I done everything I can to prepare them and bring them home?” Fortunately, despite having several combat losses, my detachment of Marines came home safe. Then being given command, twice, was confirmation that my commanders had confidence in my abilities to lead and ensure the welfare of my Marines.
Q: When did you first become aware of the legal injustices that some of our nation’s Warriors face?
Strangely, I didn’t become aware of these injustices until after I retired and started reading accounts where Marines were apparently being charged with crimes with little or no due process or without proper and thorough investigation. I had always assumed (naively) that the UCMJ was fair and equitable and surely the Marines would ALWAYS take care of their own and be just. I had always been of the belief that the welfare of your men and women was your sacred duty – that their welfare always came before your own. I had a hard time seeing officers sacrificing their subordinates for their own advancement, or for politicians to drive investigations for their own purposes, no matter the human toll.
Q: How did you learn about UAP?
I had served with the UAP’s CEO, Bull Gurfein, and we had always remained close friends. When he told me what he was doing and the mission and history of UAP, I became more and more interested. I was invited to an event where President Trump was speaking, and he was recognizing two warriors that had been unjustly accused and convicted of war crimes and he had recently pardoned them. Major Matt Golsteyn and 1Lt Clint Lorance. I met these two and learned more about their stories. When Bull asked me if I wanted to come to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas for the release/parole of 1SG John Hatley, I couldn’t say no. I met members of the UAP team, two of the attorneys that have been instrumental, and met several other warriors that had been freed due to the efforts of UAP. I was impressed by not only the professionalism and dedication these people displayed, but their solid belief in the mission. Additionally, I met two of the MARSOC 3 and listened to and learned more about them and their lives, families and story.
Q: What led you to decide to join UAP as a voting member of the board?
After observing UAP in action and participating in the events in Fort Leavenworth, and the homecoming events for 1SG Hatley, I wanted to do more. I recently retired from the Fire Service so when Bull asked me if I was interested in being a member of the board, I jumped at the opportunity.
Q: If you had to pick one thing to fix within the UCMJ, what would it be?
After learning of the problems associated with Undue Command Influence, where the members of the jury on a Court Martial are actually subordinates, often time, working directly for the convening authority, it’s no wonder these jurors vote to convict. If they fail to, their “loyalty” in the eyes of the convening authority may be suspect and may lead to (and probably will have) an adverse effect on their own career. My suggestion would be to utilize jurors that don’t fall within (or affected by) the chain of command of the convening authority. Perhaps utilize the services of retired officers and senior noncommissioned officers to sit on these panels and juries because they are experienced and have no pressure to vote one way or another.
Q: What is something unique about you that most people would be surprised to learn?
After my dad retired from the Air Force, he went to Vietnam and was a pilot for Air America (the CIA’s Secret Airline). Our family moved to Southeast Asia to be closer to him…first Singapore, then Thailand and finally the Philippines. During breaks from school, my mom would put me on an Air Vietnam flight to Saigon – by myself when I was only 8. My dad would pick me up on his motor scooter and I would stay with him for a couple weeks. Well, he couldn’t leave me alone so he would take me with him on his missions. I’ve flown all over Vietnam and visited multiple forward operating bases. One Special Forces Sergeant gave me a compass he had taken from a captured North Vietnamese Officer. I got to ride in a Huey Gunship and collected all sorts of military equipment (helmets, flak vests, etc.) Good times!