Thursday, June 24, 2010
LT Michael Patrick Murphy 1976 - 2005
Michael Patrick Murphy (May 7, 1976 – June 28, 2005) was a United States Navy SEAL posthumously awarded the United States military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions during the current War in Afghanistan. He was the first person to be awarded the medal for actions in Afghanistan; and the first member of the U.S. Navy to receive the award since the Vietnam War.
Michael Murphy was born and raised in New York and after graduating from High school he went to Penn State, graduating with honors and dual degrees in both political science and psychology. After college he accepted a commission in the United States Navy and became a United States Navy SEAL in July 2002.
Murphy was sent on several missions while participating in the Global War on Terrorism but was killed on June 28, 2005 after his team was compromised and surrounded by Taliban forces near Asadabad, Afghanistan.
In addition to the Medal of Honor Murphy received other awards including the Silver Star and Purple Heart as well as a United States Navy destroyer, a post office and a park named in his honor.
Murphy was born May 7, 1976 in Smithtown, New York to Irish American parents Maureen and Daniel Murphy, a former assistant Suffolk County district attorney. He was raised in Patchogue and as a boy attended Saxton Middle School where he played youth soccer and pee-wee football with his father as coach. In high school, he continued playing sports and took a summer job as a lifeguard at the Brookhaven town beach in Lake Ronkonkoma. He returned to the job every summer through his college years.
In 1994 Murphy graduated from Patchogue-Medford High School and left home to attend The Pennsylvania State University (Penn State). He graduated from Penn State in 1998 with degrees in both political science and psychology.
After graduating from Penn State, Murphy was accepted to several law schools, but decided to attend SEAL mentoring sessions at the United States Merchant Marine Academy. In September 2000, he accepted an appointment to the U.S. Navy's Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Florida. On December 13 of that year, he was commissioned as an ensign in the Navy and began Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training in Coronado, California in January 2001, eventually graduating with Class 236.
Upon graduation from BUD/S, he attended the United States Army Airborne School, SEAL Qualification Training and SEAL Delivery Vehicle (SDV) school. Murphy earned his SEAL Trident and checked on board SDV Team ONE (SDVT-1) in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii in July 2002. In October 2002, he deployed with Foxtrot Platoon to Jordan as the liaison officer for Exercise Early Victor. Following his tour with SDVT-1, Murphy was assigned to Special Operations Central Command in Florida and deployed to Qatar in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. After returning from Qatar, he was deployed to Djibouti to assist in the operational planning of future SDV missions.
Operation Enduring Freedom is the official name used by the United States Government for its War in Afghanistan, together with three smaller military actions under the umbrella of its Global War on Terror. The War began on October 7, 2001 with the response of the United States and United Kingdom to the September 11 attacks in New York City. In early 2005, Murphy was assigned to SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team ONE as assistant officer in charge of Alpha Platoon and deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Operation Red Wing was a failed counter-insurgent mission in Kunar province, Afghanistan, involving four members of the United States Navy SEALs. Murphy and two other SEALs were killed in the fighting in addition to 16 American Special Operations Forces soldiers who were killed when their helicopter was shot down while attempting to extract the SEAL Team. It was the largest loss of life for American forces since the invasion began and was the largest loss for the SEALs since the Vietnam War. Marcus Luttrell was the only surviving American sailor from the squad; he was protected by local villagers who sent an emissary to the closest military base allowing a rescue team to locate him.
Murphy led the four-man reconnaissance team on a mission to kill or capture a top Taliban leader, Ahmad Shah, who commanded a group of insurgents known as the "Mountain Tigers," west of Asadabad. The group was dropped off by helicopter in a remote, mountainous area east of Asadabad in Kunar Province, near the Pakistan border. After an initially successful infiltration, local goat herders stumbled upon the SEALs' hiding place. Unable to verify any hostile intent from the herders, Murphy asked the team what should be done with them. Sonar Technician (Surface) 2nd Class Matthew Axelson reportedly voted to kill the Afghans, and Gunner's Mate 2nd Class Danny Dietz did not offer an opinion, causing Murphy to state that he would vote the same as Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Marcus Luttrell, who said the herders should be set free. Hostile locals, possibly the goat herders they let pass, alerted 80 to 200 nearby Taliban forces, who surrounded and attacked the small group. After Murphy called for help, an MH-47 Chinook helicopter loaded with reinforcements was dispatched to rescue the team, but was shot down with an RPG, killing all 16 personnel aboard, including an additional eight SEALs and eight Army Night Stalkers.
By the end of the two-hour battle, approximately 35 Taliban soldiers, Murphy, Dietz, and Axelson were killed in the action. Luttrell was the only American survivor and was eventually rescued after several days of wandering the mountain and being protected by the people of an Afghanistan village. All three of Murphy's men were awarded the Navy's second-highest honor, the Navy Cross, for their part in the battle making theirs the most decorated Navy SEAL team in history.
Lt. Murphy was killed June 28, 2005 after exposing himself to enemy fire and knowingly leaving his position of cover to get a clear signal in order to communicate with his headquarters. He provided his unit’s location and requested immediate support for his element and then returned to his position to continue fighting until he died from his wounds.
On July 4, 2005 Murphy's remains were found by a group of American soldiers during a combat search and rescue operation and returned to the United States. Later that month Murphy was buried on Long Island in Calverton National Cemetery, Calverton, New York, Section 67, Grave No. 3710.
Medal of Honor Citation
Rank and Organization: Lieutenant, United States Navy
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as the leader of a special reconnaissance element with Naval Special Warfare Task Unit Afghanistan on 27 and 28 June 2005. While leading a mission to locate a high-level anti-coalition militia leader, Lieutenant Murphy demonstrated extraordinary heroism in the face of grave danger in the vicinity of Asadabad, Konar Province, Afghanistan. On 28 June 2005, operating in an extremely rugged enemy-controlled area, Lieutenant Murphy's team was discovered by anti-coalition militia sympathizers, who revealed their position to Taliban fighters. As a result, between 30 and 40 enemy fighters besieged his four-member team. Demonstrating exceptional resolve, Lieutenant Murphy valiantly led his men in engaging the large enemy force. The ensuing fierce firefight resulted in numerous enemy casualties, as well as the wounding of all four members of the team. Ignoring his own wounds and demonstrating exceptional composure, Lieutenant Murphy continued to lead and encourage his men. When the primary communicator fell mortally wounded, Lieutenant Murphy repeatedly attempted to call for assistance for his beleaguered teammates. Realizing the impossibility of communicating in the extreme terrain, and in the face of almost certain death, he fought his way into open terrain to gain a better position to transmit a call. This deliberate, heroic act deprived him of cover, exposing him to direct enemy fire. Finally achieving contact with his Headquarters, Lieutenant Murphy maintained his exposed position while he provided his location and requested immediate support for his team. In his final act of bravery, he continued to engage the enemy until he was mortally wounded, gallantly giving his life for his country and for the cause of freedom. By his selfless leadership, courageous actions, and extraordinary devotion to duty, Lieutenant Murphy reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.