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First Name: Orin

Last Name: Murfin

Birthplace: Ohio Furnace, OH, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)


Middle Name: Gould

Date of Birth: 13 April 1876

Date of Death: 22 October 1956

Rank or Rate: Admiral

Years Served:
Orin Gould Murfin

Graduate, U.S. Naval Academy, Class of 1897


Orin Gould Murfin

Admiral, U.S. Navy

Orin Gould Murfin was born on 13 April 1876 at Ohio Furnace, west of Ironton and Hanging Rock, in Lawrence County, OH. When he was 4 years of age, he and his family moved to Jackson, OH. His father Henry Clay Murfin, was superintendent of the Superior No. 1 Coal plant near Wellston.

After attending the Jackson schools and through the efforts of Daniel Webster Williams, Tenth District Congressman W.H. Enochs appointed Murfin to be a Midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy at the completion of his junior year of high school in 1893. Following his graduation from the Academy in 1897, he completed his two years at sea and, as a passed Midshipmen, was commissioned an Ensign in 1899.

In World War One, while serving as commander of the American mine bases in Scotland, he was credited with breaking the German morale by the effectiveness of a mine barrage. He was credited with laying 1,200 mines in the North Atlantic in a single day. A total of 57,000 mines were laid across the North Sea from the Orkney Islands off Scotland to the 3-mile limit off Bergen, Norway.

In 1928, Murfin was Captain of the Battleship USS West Virginia, the largest battleship in the U.S. Navy at that time. He was selected for Rear Admiral in 1929. President Hoover appointed him Judge Advocate of the U.S. Navy in 1931, and after three years in that position he was appointed Commander of the 3rd Division of the Battleship Fleet, Atlantic Region. In 1935, he served as President of the board of inquiry of the crash of the Navy Airship Macon into the Pacific in 1935.

On 4 October 1935, Murfin was promoted to the four-star rank of Admiral and assigned as Commander-in-Chief of the Asiatic Fleet. The Captain of the USS Augusta, on which Murfin flew his flag, was Chester Nimitz (a future Fleet Admiral).

From there, Murfin became the Commandant of the 14th Naval District, where he led the Navy's participation in the search for Amelia Earhart when her plane went missing in 1937.

Pearl Harbor Court of Inquiry

On 13 July 1944, Secretary of the Navy James V. Forrestal ordered that a Naval Court of Inquiry be convened to investigate the facts surrounding the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor and to assess any culpability borne by members of the Navy. Admiral Orin G. Murfin (recently retired), Admiral Edward C. Kalbfus, and Vice Admiral Adolphus Andrews were the three retired flag Officers named as members of the court; Murfin served as the President of the Court. The Court convened on 24 July 1944 and held daily sessions in Washington, DC, San Francisco, and Pearl Harbor. After interviewing numerous witnesses, it completed its work on 19 October 1944. Its report to the Navy Department largely exonerated Rear Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Fleet at the time of the attack. The Court found that Kimmel's decisions had been correct given the limited information available to him, but criticized then-Chief of Naval Operations Harold R. Stark for failing to warn Kimmel that war was imminent. The court concluded that "based upon the facts established, the Court is of the opinion that no offenses have been committed nor serious blame incurred on the part of any person or persons in the naval service." Because the court's findings implicitly revealed that American cryptographers had broken the Japanese codes, a critical wartime secret, the Court's report was not made public until after the end of the war.

Upon reviewing the report, Forrestal felt that the Court had been too lenient in assigning blame for the disaster. The Court had found that the Army and Navy had adequately cooperated in the defense of Pearl Harbor; that there had been no information indicating that Japanese carriers were on their way to attack Pearl Harbor; and that the attack had succeeded principally because of the aerial torpedo, a secret weapon whose use could not have been predicted. Forrestal disapproved all of these findings, judging that Kimmel could have done more with the information he had had to prevent or mitigate the attack. Forrestal concluded that both Kimmel and Stark had "failed to demonstrate the superior judgment necessary for exercising command commensurate with their rank and their assigned duties."


Murfin was married to Anna Williams, the daughter of Dr. W.E. Williams.

Death and Burial

Admiral Orin Gould Murfin passed away on 22 October 1956 at his home in Coronado, CA. He is buried at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego, CA, in Plot O, 3447.

Honoree ID: 607   Created by: MHOH




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