Veteran, Age 99, Gets Back to Living After Rehabilitation

11/09/2015

Nittany Valley Veteran Robert MurrellHe'll tell you that he's "just Bob," but spend some time with 99-year-old Robert (Bob) T. Murrell, and you'll have an even deeper appreciation for the men and women who serve our country.

Murrell, of Lewistown, Pennsylvania, served in The 80th Infantry Division of the U.S. Army during World War II from 1942 to 1945. He spent 274 days in heavy front line combat.

In his first days at war, he had his pistol belt shot off of him and a bullet went through his helmet.  As he tried to move under barbed wire using his clippers, several rounds from enemy machine guns clipped the wire for him. The officer from Murrell’s platoon, along with two of his sergeants, were killed three feet away from him. Through it all, Murrell was unscathed.

“I was taught that after you fire your gun, you roll to the side,” Murrell said. “There were many times when I would look to the side from which I rolled and see the marks of the enemy’s bullets. I fought through D-Day and until the end of the war, and came out without a scratch.”

Murrell was a recent inpatient at HealthSouth Nittany Valley Rehabilitation Hospital in Pleasant Gap, Pennsylvania. After a hip fracture, he needed to regain strength. 

“When I was in the hospital, I was told that I needed rehabilitation and I knew that I wanted more than a nursing home could offer,” Murrell said. “Many years ago, I had some positive experiences at a HealthSouth outpatient clinic in Pittsburgh, so I chose HealthSouth Nittany Valley for my inpatient rehabilitation.” 

Bob is a member of the 80th Infantry Division of the Veterans Association, which was first organized in 1917 and headquartered at what’s now Fort Lee in Virginia. It originally consisted of men mostly from Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, and was nicknamed the “Blue Ridge Division.” According to Murrell, there are only seven members still living.

Their division motto is “only move forward,” which says a lot about Murrell, even at age 99.

“At HealthSouth, with three hours of therapy a day, I was getting around so well that I asked my doctor if I could go home early, and I did!”

Murrell is grateful to be at home. He is still active in helping people whose family members were killed in action during the war. 

“People who never knew a parent because they died during the war have questions, and I like to help them find the answers, like where they died and how,” Murrell says. 

He has friends all over the world and enjoys keeping in touch through email and the Internet.

Murrell has written and published six books about the history of the 80th Infantry Division in WWII, and has appeared on Good Morning America to talk about D-Day. 

He is a highly decorated veteran, holding many honors, including the honorary military title of Colonel for the 80th Division.

Murrell is also the recipient of the National Order of the Legion of Honour, the highest decoration in France, with the highest distinction of Chevalier (Knight). This award is given for excellence in civil or military conduct.  

It was an honor to have Bob at HealthSouth, and to learn about his service during WW II.  The HealthSouth family would like to extend its heartfelt thanks to Bob Murrell, and all veterans, for their service to our country. 

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