Eagle Profile

Frank Murray

Frank Murray was one of only six pilots to fly the A-12 for the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) legendary Oxcart program. Frank Murray was born into an Army family on 21 September 1930, the son of a professional Army soldier and an Army nurse, William and Agnes Murray. Frank grew up in San Diego, California and graduated from St. Augustine High School in 1948. He was taught to fly by his older brother Bill at the age of 15. He followed in both his brothers’ footsteps by enlisting in the US Air Force in August 1948. Frank’s career in aviation began when he was selected for and attended Airplane and Engine Mechanics School at Keesler AFB, Mississippi, where he graduated and stayed on as an instructor. Frank rose through the ranks over the course of four years until he made Sergeant. He was then accepted into the AF Aviation Cadet Flying Training Program. Frank’s love for flying was solidified in training at Columbus AFB, Mississippi, and Laredo AFB, Texas, in 1952. Murray was commissioned a second lieutenant and soon transferred to Laughlin AFB, then to Luke AFB, for Gunnery School in the T-33 and F-84B. His first operational fighter assignment was to Chaumont, France, where he flew the F-84G and F-86F. Murray was then reassigned to Bergstrom AFB, Texas, where he again flew the F-84F and received his first experience with supersonic speeds in the F-101A/C. From there, Murray was assigned to Otis AFB, Massachusetts, to fly the F-94C and F-101B. His final assignment prior to becoming an A-12 pilot was a three-year tour as an A-12 safety chase pilot in direct support of Project Oxcart in the 1129th Special Activities Squadron at Area 51, Nevada. Lt Col Murray’s transition to the CIA, the A-12, and Project Oxcart came just as he was promoted to the rank of major. He chose to resign his commission to take the job. Lt Col Murray flew four operational missions, most notably the “Hunt for the USS Pueblo” on 26 January, 1968, finding the captured ship in North Korea’s Wonson Harbor. The Oxcart program was officially shut down in June of 1968 and Murray returned to regular Air Force life. Murray’s career picked up where it left off and he was assigned to the 475th Test Squadron at Tyndall AFB flying the F-101 Voodoo. He volunteered for duty in Southeast Asia with the 1st Special Operations Squadron at Nakhon Phanom AB, Thailand. He flew 67 combat rescue missions in the A-1 Skyraider over Laos and Vietnam, ultimately commanding the squadron before returning to Tyndall and retiring from active duty in 1977 with 29 years of service. He received the CIA’s Intelligence Star for Valor and was inducted into Nevada’s Aviation Hall of Fame in 2012. Murray currently resides in Gardnerville, Nevada, with Stella, his wife of 59 years.

Years Honored:


2013 Lithograph

Lithograph Setting(s):

From May 1967 to June 1968, Frank Murray flew three operational CIA A-12 OXCART missions from Kadena, Japan as part of Operation BLACK SHIELD where standard missions were flown at 80,000 feet and in excess of Mach 3.  Murray was the pilot that located the USS Pueblo in the North Korean port of Wonson Harbor.  For his service he was awarded the CIA's Intelligence Star for Valor.