Machine Gunner, Company D, 511th PIR
October 19, 1918 - December 21, 1986 (Age 68)
Citations: Presidential Unit Citation, World War II Victory Medal, Philippine Presidential Unit Citation Badge, Philippine Liberation Medal with service star, the American Defense Medal, and the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with three Battle Stars and one Arrowhead
A Paratrooper’s Love Story “Enjoying Life”
by Beverly Perlman:
Murray Perlman was born in the Bronx, New York, on October 19, 1918, the third child of immigrant Romanian Jews, who worked hard and tried their best to raise four children through the tough depression. Murray sold magazines and dreamed of his hero, Charles Lindberg. He had to finish high school at night so that he could help support the family. In World Was II, Murray was drafter into the Army, and given a “cushy” job handing out uniforms in the Quartermaster Corps. He refused and ended up at Camp Young in the Mojave Dessert in 1941 in a Tank Battalion; testing motorcycles in a feasibility study which proved unsuccessful. He rode for General Patton, another of his heroes. About this time, Murray found out about the Paratroops, when caught by them during War Games. From that time, he wanted to be a Paratrooper, NOTHING else.
In 1943, Murray became a Paratrooper, D-511 at Camp Mackall, and began his love affair with the sky. In 1944 he was in New Guinea and the Philippines in 1945. After many close calls (one being a bullet going through the side of his helmet), Murray was wounded during a raid on a warehouse. The Japanese dum-dum bullet shattered his right arm. At Letterman Hospital, a bone from his leg was put into his arm using screws, then the skin was grafted onto his arm. He received a Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. His closest buddies in D-511 were Billy Pettit, Morris Bryant, Andy Carrico, Joe Mishler, Roy Streck and Willie Walter.
After the war, Murray started a dress contracting business in Tannersville, New York. He started skiing in the mountains. In the early 1960’s he took up skydiving. He was never able to free fall, because what he had so diligently learned in the Paratroops he could not unlearn. After a total of 100 jumps, Murray turned his attention to flying a single engine airplane. He earned his pilot’s license in 1964. In 1965, he met Beverly, and the love and attraction was instantaneous! Murray was 47, a confirmed bachelor, and Beverly was a 22-year old young woman. After a courtship of 3 years, they were married in 1969. The union was blessed with two children, Andrew and Lisa.
In 1984 Murray found about the Airborne reunions, and he and Beverly attended the 1985 reunion in Little Rock. He renewed acquaintances with his old buddies, seeing them for the first time in 40 years. He made the statement “I’ll never miss these reunions again!” Little did we all know that we would never see him again. On December 21, 1986, as Murray was taking off from Kingston Airport, a plane coming in for a landing took his wing off and Murray crashed into the runway. He was dead on impact. His plane went up in flames. All the people in the other plane survived. At his funeral the sorrowing family eulogized him, and played the song, “My Way”.
*Perlman was also an avid skier, motorcyclist, and magician. Beverly would later write, “I…fell madly in love with this Walter Mitty type.”
Murray and Beverly Perlman at 1985 Little Rock, Arkansas, Division Reunion (photo by Jane Carrico)
If you would like to learn more about Murray's exploits within and the history of the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment in World War II, please consider purchasing a copy of the book WHEN ANGEL'S FALL: FROM TOCCOA TO TOKYO, THE 511TH PARACHUTE INFANTRY REGIMENT IN WORLD WAR II, available in the regimental online store, on Amazon or wherever military history books are sold.