Bio / Text:
Michael J. Murayda was a US volunteer of polish decent from Akron, Ohio who in 1939 was only 17 lying about his age but was recruited by the Clayton Knight Committee to enlist in Canada to train as a RAF pilot. Canada did not keep records of his enlistment as it was illegal for him to join under the US Neutrality Act. So from 1939 to 1941 I found no records kept of his enlistment. So it is a mystery what he did during that time. I was able to find evidence of his being trained in Canada from his RAF records in England. After the US entered the war in 1941 Michael was assigned to the RAF Polish 302 squadron with the rank of Flight Sargent, flying Spitfire MK924. Notably Michael flew his spitfire taking part in operation Overlord and operation Neptune on DDay. For his service in the Polish 302 squadron he was awarded the Polish Cross of Valor by the exiled Polish government.
In 1944 Michael switched over and enlisted in the USAAF 56th Fighter Group, 61st Squadron as a Second Lieutenant. Michael flew many missions as a ramrod escort as well as bombing trains and marshaling yards. Michael’s assigned aircraft was a P47M HV-F serial # 44-21193 ‘Beautiful Fredie” flying from Boxsted airfield just outside Colchester in Essex.
Michael survived the war but remained in England with his wife Irene and three children, sons: Robin, Duncan, and daughter Mary. Michael kept flying after the war having his own plane. He made an attempt to go into business with this airplane but was denied by the British government. Michael’s aircraft, was a Beech Staggerwing serial # 39-139. That aircraft has a fascinating history first being assigned as a liaison aircraft to the American Embassy in London, then with 24 squadron until the end of hostilities. After Michael’s ownership, it served in Rhodesia and South Africa before returning to the U.S. in 1985 for restoration and returned to its original Embassy colors. It is still flying today.
Michael settled into and maintained his own hair salon business with his wife Irene. Over time Michael was building an american style ranch home and had finished it only to suffer a fatal heart attack in 1962. He was buried in Colchester. In 1968 Irene and youngest son Duncan were tragically killed in an automobile crash. Robin and Mary eventually moved to the US where they now reside as citizens with grown children and many grandchildren. I made an attempt to acquire Michael's US military records but the archive informed me that in 1973 a huge fire destroyed his records along with many other servicemen. If anyone has information about his US service and what if any citations he received would be greatly appreciated.