On April 8th, 1944 while flying a routine combat training mission over Napa, Army Air Force Lt. Murphy's aircraft went out of control at 5,000 feet and plunged into the Napa River, not far from this site.
Lt. Murphy, a veteran combat pilot during World War II, was instructing three other pilots on combat maneuvers over Napa when his plane suddenly went out of control and into a dive. Lt. Murphy's aircraft appeared headed directly for the busy downtown Napa business district. Lt. Murphy stayed with his aircraft, miraculously guiding it into the Napa River where it crashed costing Lt. Murphy his life. Lt. Murphy's sacrifice saved lives of the people in Downtown Napa and workers returning from local war plants crossing the Third Street Bridge at the time of the crash.
Shortly after the crash, the Napa city council and Mayor Charles F. Moffitt honored Lt. Murphy for his heroic actions and self-sacrifice.
In memory of Lt. Murphy's actions and self-sacrafice (sic), the City of Napa and citizens dedicated his plaque.