Michael P. Murphy

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Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy

Michael Patrick "Murph" Murphy (1976 - 2005) was a United States Navy SEAL lieutenant posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor on October 22, 2007[1] for his actions during Operation Redwing. He was the first person and the first member of the U.S. Navy to be awarded the medal for actions in Afghanistan. Murphy was also awarded the Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Ribbon and National Defense Service Medal.[2]

Contents

Biography

Michael Murphy was born on May 7, 1976 in Smithfield, New York to Dan and Maureen Murphy. He grew up in Patchogue, New York, and had a younger brother named John. Murphy attended Saxton Middle School, and graduated from Patchogue-Medford High School in 1994. He was active in sports, and had a summertime job as lifeguard at Brookhaven town beach in Lake Ronkonkoma in both high school and college.[2]

Murphy attended Penn State University, graduating with honors in 1998. While attending Penn State, he continued participating in sports, and excelled in ice hockey. Murphy earned two bachelor's degrees, in political science and psychology. Instead of attending one of the several law schools where he had been accepted, Murphy decided to participate in the SEAL mentoring sessions at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy held at Kings Point. In September 2000, Murphy was appointed to the Navy's Officer Candidate School at Pensacola, Florida, and was commissioned as an ensign on December 13, 2000.[2]

Military Career

As part of his SEAL training, Murphy completed Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) (January 2001), Army Jump School, SEAL Qualification Training and SEAL Delivery Vehicle (SDV) school. In July 2002, he earned his SEAL Trident and joined SDV Team 1 in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Murphy was sent to Jordan with Foxtrot Platoon in October of that year, serving as liaison officer for Exercise Early Victor. Murphy was next assigned to Special Operations Central Command in Florida and sent to Qatar. From there he was deployed to the Horn of Africa, Djibouti, where he assisted in planning future SDV missions. Murphy was deployed to Afghanistan in early 2005, assigned to SDV Team 1 as an assistant officer in charge of ALFA Platoon.[2]

Operation Redwing

On June 28, 2005, Murphy led a four-man special reconnaissance team on a mission to locate a top Taliban leader. Operating in an extremely rugged enemy-controlled area, the team was discovered by Taliban sympathizers, who revealed their position to Taliban terrorists. As a result, at least 80 enemy fighters besieged the Navy SEAL team. 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, 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, Murphy maintained his exposed position while he provided his location and requested immediate support for his team. After making contact, Murphy was hit in the back by enemy fire, but continued to transmit his unit's location.

The first rescue helicopter to arrive was downed by rocket fire, killing all 16 on board. Before the remaining rescuers could reach the battlefield, Murphy had been killed. Two other members of the team, Petty Officer 2nd Class Danny Dietz and Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew Axelson, were also killed in the action. They had managed to kill an estimated 35 Taliban. The fourth SEAL, Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Marcus Luttrell, who was knocked out when a grenade forced him over a cliff, was able to escape with serious wounds, traveling seven miles on foot to a friendly village. A resident made contact with a nearby Marine base, and Luttrell was rescued on July 2.

Dietz, Axelson and Luttrell were all awarded the Navy's second-highest honor, the Navy Cross, for their part in the battle.

Murphy is buried in Calverton National Cemetery, Calverton, New York.

Medal of Honor Citation

On October 22, 2007, President George W. Bush posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor to Lieutenant Murphy, and presented the medal to his parents, Dan and Maureen Murphy.

CITATION:
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.
Signed George W. Bush[3]

Other honors

Murphy has had a post office in his hometown, a park in Patchogou, New York, and a United States Navy warship named after him.

References

  1. Lt. Michael P. Murphy USN
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Michael P. Murphy biography
  3. Official Citation
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