Over 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 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.
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|