Jack Murray Aims to Serve

Zag Grads 2019

Jack Murray. (GU photo by Dale Goodwin)
All-star history major Jack Murray leaves Gonzaga bound for the U.S. Marines.
May 08, 2019
By Dale Goodwin

SPOKANE, Wash. — Jack Murray treasures his conversations with his grandfather, a former Naval aviator, and his uncle, a onetime Marine drill instructor. From them he learned the fraternal aspects of the military, and a lot about life.

Whenever he wasn’t studying, Murray was reading about the past, with a particular fondness for military history.

So when he arrived at Gonzaga University in summer 2015, he was able to satisfy both his passions — he enrolled in GU’s Army ROTC program, and majored in history.

“I can’t remember ever wanting to pursue anything else other than becoming a Marine,” says Murray, who was raised near Pasadena, California.

He had to exit the Army ROTC program after a year and a half as it was clear the U.S. Marine Corps would be his destination. However, he stayed connected, serving as the opposing force in leadership labs and field training exercises for the Bulldog Battalion.

“I see him running on the Centennial Trail and doing pull-ups on the apparatus near the baseball field,” says retired Lt. Col. Alan Westfield, military science instructor. “During Jack’s second year in our program, he served as a mentor to a first-year cadet. He met him at the airport, showed him around campus, helped him settle into his dorm and made a major impact on the new recruit. He went above and beyond. Jack is that kind of a selfless leader,” Westfield says.

He was an all-star in the history department, as well, working as a student assistant. Professor Eric Cunningham says Murray is among the top three or four students he has ever taught as a university instructor, closing in on 20 years.

“He writes eloquent, error-free prose in any length required. He turns a phrase that I wish I had written, and has a dialectical skill in argumentation that frankly exceeds that of a number of humanities Ph.Ds I could name,” Cunningham says.

Murray shows an enthusiasm for all knowledge, and an amazing capacity to work, his professors say. His penchant to challenge the toughest intellectual tasks provides his faculty substantial validation of the work that they do.

Murray will receive his second lieutenant bars in a special commissioning ceremony May 11, and his bachelor’s degree in history the following day. He plans to work for the Marine Corps’ Spokane recruiting office this summer, and enroll in basic training for newly commissioned officers in Quantico, Virginia, in September.

Murray leaves Gonzaga with a passion to serve others.

“I’ve been fortunate to be raised by people who have grounded me in taking responsibility,” he says. “Whenever I can, I take as much responsibility for the work and the people as possible. That’s what being a Christian is about, and coming to a place like Gonzaga has solidified that for me.”

The most important lesson he has learned at Gonzaga?

“To take responsibility for our actions and we will make a difference in the world,” Murray says.

Cunningham confirmed Murray’s desire to make a difference.

“The quality he brings to bear in his work is the expression of quality itself, and those who work with him benefit from it.”

Added Westfield: “America will be able to sleep well with officers like Jack Murray defending us.” 

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