Michael Patrick Murphy
Engagements: • Afghanistan War (Operation Enduring Freedom) (2001 - present)
Michael Patrick Murphy
Michael Patrick Murphy was a U.S. Navy SEAL Lieutenant who was posthumously awarded the United States military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions in 2005 during the 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.
The Early Years
Michael Patrick Murphy was born on 7 May 1976 at Smithtown, NY, to Irish American parents Daniel and Maureen Murphy. His father, Daniel, was a former Assistant Suffolk County District Attorney. He was raised in Patchogue and attended Saxton Middle School where he played youth soccer and peewee 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 Pennsylvania State University (Penn State). He graduated from Penn State in 1998 with honors and dual 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 U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. In September 2000, he accepted an appointment to the U.S. Navy's Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, FL. On 13 December of that year, he was commissioned as an Ensign in the Navy. He began Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training in Coronado, CA, in January 2001, eventually graduating with Class 236.
Upon graduation from BUD/S, he attended the U.S. 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, HI, 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.
Combat in Afghanistan
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 7 October 2001 with the response of the United States and United Kingdom to the attacks in New York City and Washington, DC, on 11 September 2001. 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 Wings
Operation Red Wings was a failed counter-insurgent mission in Kunar province, Afghanistan, involving four members of the U.S. 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, thereby 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. Matthew Axelson reportedly voted to kill the Afghans, and Danny Dietz did not offer an opinion, causing Murphy to state that he would vote the same as 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 on 28 June 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 4 July 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.
Medal of Honor
The President of the United States
Rank and organization: Lieutenant, U.S. Navy, SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 1, Naval Special Warfare Task Unit.
Place and Date: Asadabad, Konar Province, Afghanistan, 27 - 28 June 2005.
Entered Service at: Patchogue, NY. Born: 7 May 1976, Smithtown, NY
On 22 October 2007, the Medal of Honor presentation ceremony was held in the East Room of the White House. President George W. Bush presented Murphy's Medal of Honor to his parents, Daniel and Maureen Murphy.
Medals, Awards and Badges
Medal of Honor
In addition to the Medal of Honor, Murphy has received several other honors including:
Michael P. Murphy Memorial Park
On 7 May 2006, on what would have been his 30th birthday, Murphy's hometown dedicated the Michael P. Murphy Memorial Park; formerly Lake Ronkonkoma Park. The park contains a black granite wall dedicated to the men lost in Operation Red Wings, with each member's name inscribed. A black granite stone embedded in the plaza bears the picture of Murphy and his Medal of Honor.
Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy United States Post Office
On 7 May 2007, the Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy United States Post Office was dedicated in Patchogue, NY. The request to rename the historic United States Postal Office located at 170 East Main Street in Patchogue, NY, was submitted as bill H.R. 4101 to the 109th Congress. On 3 January 2006, the 109th Congress approved the request and on 1 August 2006, it was signed by President George W. Bush and became Public Law No: 109-256.
"The facility of the United States Postal Service located at 170 East Main Street in Patchogue, New York, shall be known and designated as the `Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy Post Office Building.'"
U.S.S. Michael Murphy DDG-112
On 7 May 2008 the U.S. Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter announced that DDG-112, the last planned US Arleigh Burke class destroyer at the time, would be named USS Michael Murphy (DDG-112) in honor of Murphy.
Lt. Michael P. Murphy Combat Training Pool
On 9 July 2009, the newly constructed Combat Training Pool at Naval Station Newport, RI, was dedicated in honor of Murphy. The pool is an L-shaped, 8-lane pool which holds approximately 347,000 gallons of chlorinated water. The training pool also has a training platform three meters above the water which is used for military training, abandon ship drills, etc.
Lt. Michael P. Murphy Award in Geospatial Intelligence
Named in honor of Murphy, a distinguished Penn State University alumnus, the Lt. Michael P. Murphy Award in Geospatial Intelligence recognizes achievement by a Penn State graduate student who is serving or has served in the U.S. Armed Forces or with the U.S. Intelligence community and demonstrated exceptional contributions to the discipline. The award was made possible by the gracious gifts of SPADAC and the US Geospatial Intelligence Foundation. This award is endowed to be given in Murphy's name in perpetuity.
Lt. Michael P. Murphy / Penn State Veterans Plaza
On 2 November 2010, it was announced the senior gift for the Pennsylvania State University (Murphy's alma mater) Class of 2011 will be the Lt. Michael P. Murphy / Penn State Veterans Plaza. The plaza will honor all Penn State veterans and Penn State's only Medal of Honor recipient, Murphy.
Death and Burial
Lieutenant Michael Patrick Murphy was killed in action on 28 June 2005. He is buried on Long Island at Calverton National Cemetery in Calverton, NY, in Section 67, Grave No. 3710.
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