Kim Whitworth of northwest Hall County has no memory of her father, but that hasn’t stopped the flow of emotions through the years as she has sought to learn more about his fate in the Vietnam War.
And those deep feelings resurfaced again Thursday as she attended a POW/MIA ceremony in Atlanta.
“It brought tears to my eyes,” Whitworth said of the ceremony at the state Capitol.
The program included a roll call of the 30 Georgians declared MIA, including Whitworth’s father, Army helicopter pilot Capt. Larron David Murphy.
Family members of 13 of those were invited to the ceremony, which was sponsored by the Georgia Department of Veterans Service.
Whitworth, 46, received a certificate and a commemorative pin during the program.
“Just as we must never forget the sacrifices of those service members still unaccounted for, so too must we remember the burden borne by their loved ones,” Veterans Service Commissioner Pete Wheeler said in a prepared statement before the ceremony.
Whitworth has worked over the years to learn more about Murphy, an Atlanta native raised in Dalton who went on to marry Elaine Roper of Gainesville in August 1966.
He was sent to Vietnam in June 1969 as part of Troop F of the Army’s 8th Calvary.
Murphy was declared MIA after his Cobra helicopter crashed in April 1970 on a rescue mission in South Vietnam.
His status was changed to killed in action in late 1972.
Whitworth was 16 months old at the time of the crash. The news that Murphy was MIA came about six weeks before he was scheduled to return to Fort Rucker, Ala., to teach would-be pilots.
Her mission to learn more about her father started about 13 years ago.
Whitworth’s mother had remarried a Hall County resident who flew combat missions in Vietnam. He encouraged her “to know her roots, to seek them out and be proud of her dad,” she said in a 2003 interview.
“I was gung-ho on doing it for several years, but it got overwhelming,” Whitworth said.
“I was searching online and posting on certain websites, and it did bring out a lot of people who knew him,” she said.
And she received keepsake items, particularly photographs of Murphy in Vietnam or when he was in officer candidate school.
But one person had taken old film footage showing him leading marching practice for a parade and transferred it to DVD, dubbing in Don Henley’s “The End of the Innocence.”
“I bet I watched it a hundred times, just to see him walking and moving around,” Whitworth said. “Before that, I only had pictures. It was very, very emotional.”