Monthly Archives: January 2014

The $.77 Cent Solution!

Don and Derek

The Book Kahuna and his Corgi, Derek!

The Book Kahuna

Whether you work in publishing or not there is one part of being employed that no one can avoid. You work all week so that you can see a balance growing in your bank account. Everyone has a bank account hopefully, everyone has a savings account hopefully, and everyone deals with the bank in an ongoing situation.

Some Background

Let me give you a little background on my situation before I get into the details of this story:

1.   I was laid off on February 21, 2013 from my job at a publishing company that produces history reference materials.

2.  Before I could receive unemployment I had to exhaust all of the severance pay that I was given.

3. Unemployment would not tell me what my benefits would be or when they would start after the severance was gone.

4.  Having purchased a house in 2006 and seriously wanting to remain in the house and not living on the street, I was forced to take a lump sum payout of all of my 401(k) money that I had been saving for the past nine years working for this company in number one above.

5.  Once I had taken this lump sum payment, unemployment looked at it as income and then moved the effective date of my unemployment payments another five months further out. This forced me to exhaust all of my severance, all of my retirement money, and collect unemployment benefits that do not pay all of my bills.

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401(k)-less

Working in publishing I’ve been laid off twice in the past 12 years and both times I have been forced to use 401(k) money to support myself so that I could actually live until a new employment situation was acquired. These two layoffs have drained me of over $100,000 of money that the old Book Kahuna would need to live on.

My story is not unique and I am not putting this into a blog post so that many people can start playing small violins, I give you this background so that you can have a better understanding of what I am about to relate. I’ve been paying my mortgage to a very large Midwest lending company. I’ve been paying my mortgage on time for the past seven years. I have never had a late payment. Before I was laid off my FICO score and credit rating were extremely high. All that has changed and fiscal survival is the only thing that is on my mind at this point in time.

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 All it Takes is $.77 Cents and a Dream

Last Friday, after saving the two unemployment pay periods necessary to pay my mortgage, I walked into my local branch and handed them a check for what I thought was the total amount of the payment plus another extra dollar. Unfortunately on my end I had miscalculated and my payment which totaled almost $2000 was $.77 short. What can you buy this day and age for $.77? Tuesday morning I received a phone call from my lending company hunting down the $.77. Apparently $.77 is a big deal to this particular company. The seven years of on-time paying and the last payment which was almost $100 over the stipulated mortgage payment does not mean very much. I was given a call from the mortgage department of this company because apparently they couldn’t process my check until the $.77 was received. They started asking all kinds of questions about whether the house was my primary residence, whether I was planning on staying there, if my payments would be late in the future and if I could pay the $.77 immediately.

Pass the Friskies Buffet and the Triscuits, Please

Sometime today I urge you to think about three-quarters and two pennies and how this amount of change can actually have an impact on your life.  Things can happen for the worse if it does not get paid to the correct people at the right time. I am in the process of building a new business, using social media to get visibility and build an online profile in my chosen profession of book publishing.  I am using my skills to help other people avoid being ripped off by the connivers and charlatans who abound in the independent publishing realm.

I have a “go fund me” campaign that is still up and running and accepting donations. Even if you want to give $.77 it will still go a long way towards helping me reach my final goal of building a digital reference business that extracts me from a publishing corporate environment forever. I’d seriously prefer not to be sharing the Friskies Buffet with my cats when I am 75 years old. I have heard that Friskies Buffet has a nice taste on Triscuit…  NOT!!

Sometimes you need a HAND-UP, and not a HAND-OUT!

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Independent Publishing Versus Traditional Publishing: A Few Possible Answers

Don and Derek

The Book Kahuna and his Corgi, Derek!

The Book Kahuna

http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2014/author-survey-results-expectations-of-traditional-publishing-and-self-publishing/

Independent Publisher=Self-Publisher (one in the same for my blogpost)

I just finished reading the newest article on the DBW website:  Author Survey Results: Expectations of Traditional Publishing and Self-Publishing and wanted to weigh in on a couple of things that crossed my mind as I was reading through this wealth of information. In this article that was put together by Jeremy Greenfield and Dr. Dana Beth Weinberg, authors were asked numerous questions on different aspects of the publishing process to arrive at a dichotomy between the two different processes. I thought that many of the statistical findings were interesting but some of them were actually surprising. I’d like to look at just a couple of the statistical answers and give a production/manufacturing viewpoint of why this information might be what it is.

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VOLUME IS THE WORD

Having worked in traditional publishing for a good many years the cost differential between self-publishing and traditional publishing can be summed up in one word: Volume. A traditional publisher is not going to be doing one book and then stopping and will have contracted with or have a stable of vendors and suppliers who are always working on particular titles with said publisher. In this way production/manufacturing departments can trim costs from budgets that a self-publisher would be unable to achieve. Also, the production layout for traditional publishing has most of the typesetting and design work done at an offshore facility:  more than likely in the Indian subcontinent. This also helps to ensure that pricing for composition would be much below what the cost would be if completed by a comparable typesetting facility domestically. The way that a self-publisher could minimize these extra costs would be if they were planning a series of books instead of a one-off title. A series of five books could be volume batched and job-costed to various vendors at a lower pricing based on the timeliness of the project making it into the vendor’s shop.

Independent’s Day

Independent publishers are at a disadvantage when trying to get production services completed. They are at a disadvantage cost-wise, but for the most part they are not at a disadvantage quality-wise. A first-time author would not be willing to have the layout of their project completed overseas. This could be a generalization but I am willing to bet that for the most part this is a true statement. Domestic typesetters are more expert with the language they are laying out and as such the author is paying for a product that has the possibility of being at a much higher quality due to this fact. A product that has been laid out overseas needs a much higher level proofread then a project that has been laid out domestically. I have seen more problems when companies try to cut the proofreading process down on outsourced layouts than I can expound on in this post.

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Where independent publishers have a marked advantage is in the process of picking a printer for their print book. An independent can use a print-on-demand operation to get their title into the mainstream market in a short-run digital or one-off situation. Traditional publishers will normally use a web-press printer to print any number of books from 1000 and up. Under a printrun of 1000, the publisher may use a short-run digital press or might put the title into a print-on-demand situation for very short runs.  The independent publisher has the ability to shop around and find the best print pricing to get the number of books completed when and where they want. The traditional publisher may have a contract with an individual print facility and can only expect to pay the amount that was budgeted initially which could vary due to the design, word count and font that was used in the production process. An independent publisher can have a castoff done on the manuscript prior to submission, whereas a traditional publisher is using estimated projections based on budgetary constraints.

In Final Summary

I think Greenfield and Weinberg have put together a wealth of information that contains some fascinating statistics. This is an article that should be read by everyone who is interested in being an author or working with authors.

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Return Road Trip: Changes in Latitude, Changes in Attitude

Don and Derek

The Book Kahuna and his Corgi, Derek!

The Book Kahuna

There are times in your life when you take a trip and it’s for fun and pleasure.  There is nothing better than going on a vacation to a destination,  bringing a book or magazine and just sitting at the pool soaking in the sun and having a beer every once in a while to power down the stress in your life.  These are the trips you need to keep your mental compass intact.  Then there are the trips that you take in life that are much more difficult because they revolve around helping in dealing with family that are having a rough time.

The Years Advance

I went back to New York for Christmas and New Year’s to spend time with my mother.  My mother’s birthday was five days before Christmas and my drive from Colorado back to New York put me in her driveway the day before, and I made it for her 85th birthday.  My mom is having some problems getting around and it’s difficult to see the person who raised me and taught me and got me through childhood to become the adult that I am now having problems getting around.  It’s hard to see your parents get old.  It sounds selfish but the difficulty watching your parents get old is that it’s also an indicator of how much you are aging as an individual yourself.  The clock keeps ticking, the days keeps rolling by, the year’s keep advancing, and you just wish that you could grab onto a fragment in time and hold it and never let it change.  The problem is that time is like picking up sand on a beach:  it always slips through your fingers.

Pizza, Chinese Food, and Flavor Crisp

The best part about being home in New York was the food.  Now I love Colorado and I love living there, but there are two things that I have to get when I am back in New York State.  The first one is any kind of pizza because you can’t get a New York type pizza in Colorado in any way, shape, or form.  So one of the first things we did when I got home was order a big Sicilian pie with multiple items on it.  The next thing I need to get when I’m back in New York from Colorado is some good Chinese food.  There is nothing like a Chinese restaurant in New York.  The Chinese Food back on Long Island just tastes so much better and I haven’t been able to figure out why because basically it’s just vegetables with some meat, or shrimp added.  Now one more thing I have to do whenever I am back on Long Island, and even though my mother lives an hour away from the town I grew up, West Islip, I always have to get a bucket of Flavor Crisp Chicken with a double order of Jo Jo’s and onion rings.  A nice order of cole-slaw never goes to waste either.  This is my recipe for a great time when I go back to New York.

Return Trip

It was very hard for me to leave and come back to Colorado, but Derek and I started our journey back at 3:00 AM on Saturday January 11.  We ran into some nasty weather all the way from Long Island to the Ohio border.  Although rainy and foggy, we were lucky because the weather was not cold enough for ice and snow.  I shot some video with my iPhone that I am embedding in this blogpost.  The freedom of the highway is something that everyone should experience.  As I have said on a few different occasions in blogposts and videos it is a great way to “squeeze the sponge” and decompress from any of the stresses that affect us during the course of our lives.  I’m extremely happy that I made the decision to drive back to New York and I was also very lucky that I caught the breaks in the weather that I did.

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Thanks for EVERYTHING, Mom

If my mom calls tomorrow and says, “Come home” again, I will be in the car in a flash with my trusty canine sidekick along for new adventures.

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The Movie: Lone Survivor: A Review

Don and Derek

The Book Kahuna and his Corgi, Derek!

The Book Kahuna

On Tuesday January 13, 2014, I went to the matinee here in Broomfield at the AMC Theater in the Orchard Mall to see the movie Lone Survivor.  Having read the book and also read SEAL of Honor, as well as seeing the documentary Murph: The Protector, I was well versed in the events I was about to see.  The starkness of the imagery and the savagery of the events made for a tearful afternoon.

What is Lone Survivor?

The movie depicts the events that transpired in a military reconnaissance that was known as Operation Red Wings.  Mark Wahlberg plays Marcus Luttrell, who is the lone survivor.  Taylor Kitsch plays Lieutenant Michael Murphy who was the commander of the operation; Ben Foster plays Matthew Axelson while Emile Hirsch plays Danny Dietz.  Another character who is pivotal to the entire movie is played by Eric Bana as Lieutenant Commander Erik Kristensen.  Director Peter Berg has skillfully portrayed a very moving and sad historical event that was conversely filled with teamwork, courage, and humanity.

To completely understand this movie, you have to realize that the Navy SEALS are the most elite warriors we have in our military arsenal.  The movie credits begin with scenes from SEAL training classes.  The BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL) training is so intense that only a small percentage of those who begin a SEAL class actually complete it and receive their SEAL trident.  The training is both physical and psychological to break down the spirit and rebuild and replace it with a new spirit of team supremacy.  You would rather die than let down your brothers on your team!  These men are the best the United States can field, and they are the tip of our anti-terrorist spear in the War on Global Terrorism.

Operation Red Wings

Operation Red Wings was an attempt to eradicate a Taliban terrorist who was building IED’s (Improvised Explosive Devices) for the sole purpose of killing American soldiers.  The terrorist in question was one Amad Shah who was one of Osama Bin Ladin’s main captains in Afghanistan.  The initial planning for this operation had a four-man SEAL team dropped into the Hindu Kush mountain range above the village where Amad Shah was thought to operate.  The operation was put off on a couple of occasions because a visual identification of Shah could not be verified.  The operation was finally given the go ahead, and on June 27, 2005, Murphy, Luttrell, Dietz and Axelson were airlifted to their initial dropzone.

The original plan had the SEAL team being dropped on the landing zone as the chopper touched down.  Instead the team had to repel down from grappling lines suspended from the chopper.  One line became tangled about around some bushes and had to be cut from the chopper so that it could proceed back to base.  This forced the SEAL team to cover up the rope with bushes and underbrush to avoid detection.  At this point the SEAL team started up the mountain to get into their observation positions.  There were specified times that the team was due to check-in with base to make sure that everything was proceeding smoothly.  Initial problems with the radio that was manned by Danny Dietz forced Mike Murphy to use his satellite cell phone (an unrestricted line) to contact the main base.  It was at this point that the team decided to continue up the mountain to get into a better observation and communication position to overlook the village.

The HUMAN Decision

Once further up the mountain each of the four SEALS established their own observation position and hunkered down to wait until they had visual of Amad Shah.  It was at this point that three goat-herders stumbled upon the SEAL team.  The acting of Wahlberg, Kitsch, Hirsch, and Foster really personifies a team spirit that was apparent throughout the book.  These men all cared about each other and were put in a situation where they had to make an incredible decision.  Although all of the team had input, it was Michael Murphy who made the final decision.  This was the pivotal point in the movie.  The choices discussed were:

  1.  Terminate the Compromise.
  2. Tie them up and leave them to continue the operation.
  3. Let them go.

Michael Murphy showed utmost humanity when he ordered that their prisoners should be released.

Final Attack

Within an hour the attack had begun that would cost three of the four their lives.  The movie has been attacked as conservative propaganda but that is not the case.  The depiction of real events that were already written and described in a book that is five years old cannot be considered to have a political bias.  Also, there is no racial prejudice in this movie.  It has to be remembered that the country of Afghanistan is being ripped by a civil war.  Those who support the Taliban and Al Qaeda are on one side, while those who oppose these forces are on the other side working with our forces.  These are all ethnic Afghanis and in this situation there are groups that are with us and there are groups that are against us.  The SEAL team could have terminated the goat-herders, but they did not.  Marcus Luttrell is alive because he was protected by the members of an Afghani village that were anti-Taliban.

In Summary

I encourage everyone to see this movie.  Make up your own mind about whether it is political or not.  Make up your own mind if there’s any racism involved.  The best way to do this is to see Lone Survivor for yourself.  There is one thing that is a certainty: Murphy, Dietz, Luttrell, Axelson, Kristensen and all of the men who died on the helicopter rushing to help after Murphy’s poignant call are American heroes who should never be forgotten.  They all fought to protect us from any and all future 9/11’s.

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Americans Read More Ebooks in 2013

Don and Derek

The Book Kahuna and his Corgi, Derek!

The Book Kahuna

http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2014/more-americans-now-reading-ebooks-new-pew-data-show/

I recently read the article on the digitalbookworld website by Jeremy Greenfield: More Americans Reading Ebooks, New Pew Data Show and thought that this would be a great blogpost now that the new year has begun in earnest.  First let me say it is refreshing to hear that Americans are reading at all.  This in no way is meant to be a slap at the American public, the rationale concerns all of the different pastimes that conspire to eat up more of American’s free-time.  Those who read an e-book in 2013 rose from 23% to 28% of the American public.  Although the print book industry is still the largest in the publishing world, the Ebook market in 2013 again saw an increase in sales of 2.2%

Reading is Fundamental

Although the consumption of e-books has increased the actual sale of Ebooks in 2013 was flat.  This arena of flatness would be inclusive of large publishing companies, and would not be indicative of all the self-published Ebooks that were produced and sold in 2013.  The fact that 50% of American adults now own a tablet or Ereader is an indicator that the future of Ebooks is all but certain to be bright.  This article did not say anything about where the Ebooks were obtained but only that there was an increase of Ebooks that were read in 2013.  That may mean that subscription based services such as Oyster and Scribd are getting more traction in the Ebook world than previously recognized.  Another avenue of Ebook transmission to consumers would be the public library.  We don’t know how many people have read Ebooks that they signed out from their local public library.  My guess would be in this economic climate that more Americans have been getting Ebooks through their public library then had been originally predicted.

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Children’s Books are Read

Children are also reading more Ebooks but their ability is constrained by economic realities.  Children who are born into more economically hard-shipped families will be less inclined to have Ebooks and Ebook readers readily available.  Those at the higher end of the economic levels are much more apt to have the readers and tablets that would make downloading and accessing Ebooks readily available.  The fact that half of the American population now owns a tablet or Ereader will mean Americans reading Ebooks should begin to skyrocket as 2014 progresses.  This does not mean that sales of Ebooks will increase just that those who have the ability to have an Ereader available to them will be able to read an Ebook if they choose to.

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What do We Know and How Do We Know It?

What have we learned from this research?  The first thing we can ascertain is that the print industry is not going to be going away anytime soon.  The second thing we can figure on is that Ebooks sales will continue to grow but possibly not at the rate that Ebooks are being read and consumed.  The Ereaders that are already out in the field will reap high gains in Ebook readers.  With many Americans still unemployed the number of Ebooks read that were borrowed from the public library could skyrocket.  This is not necessarily a bad thing since most public libraries are workforce centers that are heavily utilized by the unemployed labor force in this country.  It would be much more heartening to see the number 2 as the average number of books read per American per year, rather than the number 1.  Only time will tell if sales and consumption will merge into one and the same statistic going forward into the future.

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Murph: The Protector and SEAL of Honor

Don and Derek

The Book Kahuna and his Corgi, Derek!

The Book KahunaOver the Christmas break, I finally set my mind to reading the books that I had purchased a few years ago and catching up on all of the information on SEAL Team 10 and Operation Red Wings.  In order to have a better understanding of who Michael Murphy was, you must read Lone Survivor, SEAL of Honor and then watch the documentary Murph: The Protector to get a glimpse inside the formative background of this American hero.

Who was he?

Mike Murphy grew up in a town roughly 15 miles from where I grew up on the south shore of Long Island.  It’s a panacea of ocean beaches, golf courses, and middle class suburbia that was perfect for a kid growing up in the 1980s and 1990s.  In listening to his friends speak of him; Mike was always a determined foe in any athletic endeavor that was played.  Dan Murphy gave the great recounting of Mike hitting a home run to win a game in Little League with a man on base.  When his teammates mobbed him to tell him he had won the game, Mike’s reaction was that he couldn’t have done it if the other player hadn’t gotten on base.  Even at a young age he was a team player who was selfless in everything he did.

When reading SEAL of Honor and watching Murph:  The Protector one comes away with the incredible feeling that Michael Murphy was always for the underdog.  He was a person who had the best interests of those around him ahead of his own.  Maureen Murphy relayed a story about Mike looking after a disabled classmate when bullies tried to stuff him in a locker.  Mike would have none of that and stopped them and became a guardian for others after the incident as well.

One of the actions that left a very deep impression on me was when Mike’s cousins moved in to live with them after the death of their father.  Mike had the best room upstairs but made a decision on his own to give up his room so that the girls could have a room.  For a young man in his teens this was a very adult decision.

Academic Life and Decisions

Mike Murphy went to Penn State and graduated with honors.  When he graduated he had already applied to four law schools and was accepted at two.  He could have continued his studies and never entered the military in any way shape or form but instead he focused on becoming a Navy SEAL and put his aspirations for law school on hold.  Mike Murphy was Pat Tillman before Pat Tillman was Pat Tillman!  Tillman was the NFL player who turned his back on his three million dollar contract to join the army and become an Army Ranger.  Unfortunately, Tillman was also killed in the mountains of Afghanistan.  Mike Murphy had a burning desire to serve his country.  He loved what his country stood for and wanted to become the best of the best in the American military.  He did not have to serve and could have been very successful and happy, but that was not his mindset or point of focus.

It’s especially sad that he is no longer around when we could really use more people like Michael Murphy.  People who are dedicated, selfless, focused, and patriotic are needed in this day and age. Another indicator of where Mike Murphy stood on global events was the patch that he wore on his right arm.  Mike had asked his friend Owen O’Callaghan, a NYC firefighter, to get 30 patches for him from Engine Company 53, Ladder Company 43, “El Barrios Bravest” of the FDNY.  This patch was to be given to all the men under his command to remember why they were in Afghanistan in the first place.  To inflict justice on the terrorists who killed nearly 3,000 Americans on 9/11 and to keep a similar action from happening again.  Taking the fight to the enemy and keeping more 9/11’s from happening here at home were touchstones of what Mike, Marcus, Axe, and Danny were doing in Operation Red Wings.  The bad guys needed to be stopped before they could do more harm.

Mike Murphy II

Legacy

Mike Murphy is an American hero and his memory is a treasure.  His last words, “Roger that, sir… Thank you!” should be remembered in the same breath as “Let’s Roll”.  As long as there is a United States of America there will be a memory kept alive of a kid from Patchogue, Long Island who made a decision knowing that he would lose his life to keep his team from dying as well.  Greater love hath no man then to lay down his life for his friends.   Thank you Dan, Maureen and John for sharing Mike with all of us:  we mourn and grieve, but celebrate him with you as well.   I didn’t know you, Mike, but I will always remember you and try to live by the high standards you set.

Mike Murphy I

Medal of Honor Citation

LIEUTENANT MICHAEL P. MURPHY
UNITED STATES NAVY

FOR SERVICE AS SET FORTH IN THE   FOLLOWINGCITATION: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

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