Some were in wheelchairs, others lay in beds and some walked with canes, but the veterans at the St. Albans VA center will always be heroes, courageous men and women who served our country and protected our freedoms. That fact is not lost on comedian Charlie Murphy, who visited the servicemembers on Tuesday to thank them for all they had done.
The event was part of National Salute to Veteran Patients Week. Murphy, a Navy veteran, is serving as the chairman for the 2013 festivities, which will include visits from dignitaries, deliveries of Valentine’s Day gifts and cards and performances by various entertainers.
“It’s a reminder that I am enjoying the lifestyle that I am enjoying because somebody made a sacrifice,” Murphy said of his visit. “These guys went out and served the country. They protected our liberties, and the fact that I’m a vet compounds my awareness of the sacrifice they’ve made.”
While in the Navy, Murphy worked as a boiler technician, taking temperature readings off the machinery and fixing valves, among other tasks.
The famous funny man has enjoyed a prosperous career, but is perhaps best known for his appearances on “Chappelle’s Show.” He was featured in a series of skits called “Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories,” which famously lampooned stars such as Rick James and Prince. He is also the older brother of film star Eddie Murphy.
Murphy visited with vets who had gathered in the recreation room at the VA and then went on to the hospice area, a ward for patients expected to live only another six months or less. There he spoke with Navy vet King Lee and Air Force vet Frank Torre, both of whom appeared to be in good spirits and were happy about the visit.
“I didn’t do that much,” Torre said of his service. But Murphy disagreed, “You did a lot. You served,” he said.
Murphy also took time to speak with VA staffers, who were just as excited to meet him as the veterans. He posed for pictures with them and signed autographs.
“I think that Mr. Murphy is doing a wonderful thing,” said Yvette Cintron, chief of volunteer services at the St. Albans VA. “Not everyone volunteers to do this kind of thing. It’s wonderful that as a military person himself he is coming back and giving of his own time.”
Some asked whether he would be doing any standup comedy for the veterans and he said that he would not because his material is too dirty. Then someone yelled out, “Tell them about Rick James,” referring to his popular “Chappelle Show” spot. Others made references to Murphy’s brother, saying things like “Tell Eddie I said ‘Hi,’” or “When are you and Eddie going to make a movie together?” but to that Murphy did not respond.