#WarriorWednesday: LT Michael P. Murphy #NeverForgotten #ORW

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LT Michael P. Murphy
May 7, 1976 to Jun 28, 2005

Photo provided by navy.mil

Photo provided by navy.mil

Unless you live under a rock or don’t keep up with military actions, you probably already know about LT Michael Murphy. Here is an overview of his military career:

Following graduation from Penn State, Murphy was accepted to several law schools, but instead he changed course. Slightly built at 5 feet 10 inches, Murphy decided to attend SEAL mentoring sessions at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point with his sights on becoming a U.S. Navy SEAL. Murphy accepted an appointment to the Navy’s Officer Candidate School at Pensacola, Fla., in September, 2000.

Murphy was commissioned as an ensign in the Navy on Dec. 13, 2000, and began Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training in Coronado, Calif., in January 2001, graduating with Class 236. BUD/S is a six-month training course and the first step to becoming a Navy SEAL.

Upon graduation from BUD/S, he attended the Army Jump School, SEAL Qualification Training and SEAL Delivery Vehicle (SDV) school. Lt. Murphy earned his SEAL Trident and checked on board SDV Team (SDVT) 1 in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii in July of 2002. In October of 2002, he deployed with Foxtrot Platoon to Jordan as the liaison officer for Exercise Early Victor.

Following his tour with SDVT-1, Lt. Murphy was assigned to Special Operations Central Command in Florida and deployed to Qatar in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. After returning from Qatar, Lt. Murphy was deployed to the Horn of Africa, Djibouti, to assist in the operational planning of future SDV missions.

In early 2005, Murphy was assigned to SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 1 as assistant officer in charge of ALFA Platoon and deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

On June 28, 2005, Lt. Murphy was the officer-in-charge of a four-man SEAL element in support of Operation Red Wing tasked with finding key anti-coalition militia commander near Asadabad, Afghanistan. Shortly after inserting into the objective area, the SEALs were spotted by three goat herders who were initially detained and then released. It is believed the goat herders immediately reported the SEALs’ presence to Taliban fighters.

A fierce gun battle ensued on the steep face of the mountain between the SEALs and a much larger enemy force. Despite the intensity of the firefight and suffering grave gunshot wounds himself, Murphy is credited with risking his own life to save the lives of his teammates. Murphy, intent on making contact with headquarters, but realizing this would be impossible in the extreme terrain where they were fighting, unhesitatingly and with complete disregard for his own life moved into the open, where he could gain a better position to transmit a call to get help for his men.

Moving away from the protective mountain rocks, he knowingly exposed himself to increased enemy gunfire. This deliberate and heroic act deprived him of cover and made him a target for the enemy. While continuing to be fired upon, Murphy made contact with the SOF Quick Reaction Force at Bagram Air Base and requested assistance. He calmly provided his unit’s location and the size of the enemy force while requesting immediate support for his team. At one point, he was shot in the back causing him to drop the transmitter. Murphy picked it back up, completed the call and continued firing at the enemy who was closing in. Severely wounded, Lt. Murphy returned to his cover position with his men and continued the battle.

As a result of Murphy’s call, an MH-47 Chinook helicopter, with eight additional SEALs and eight Army Night Stalkers aboard, was sent in as part of the QRF to extract the four embattled SEALs. As the Chinook drew nearer to the fight, a rocket-propelled grenade hit the helicopter, causing it to crash and killing all 16 men aboard.

On the ground and nearly out of ammunition, the four SEALs, continued to fight. By the end of a two-hour gunfight that careened through the hills and over cliffs, Murphy, Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class (SEAL) Danny Dietz and Sonar Technician 2nd Class (SEAL) Matthew Axelson had fallen. An estimated 35 Taliban were also dead. The fourth SEAL, Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class (SEAL) Marcus Luttrell, was blasted over a ridge by a rocket-propelled grenade and knocked unconscious. Though severely wounded, the fourth SEAL and sole survivor, Luttrell, was able to evade the enemy for nearly a day; after which local nationals came to his aide, carrying him to a nearby village where they kept him for three more days. Luttrell was rescued by U.S. Forces on July 2, 2005.

By his undaunted courage, intrepid fighting spirit and inspirational devotion to his men in the face of certain death, Lt. Murphy was able to relay the position of his unit, an act that ultimately led to the rescue of Luttrell and the recovery of the remains of the three who were killed in the battle. Source: Medal of Honor, USN Recipients

I’ve wanted to do a post about Operation Red Wings for a few years now, but for some reason it is one of the more emotional battles for me. So, I will direct you to a few resources for more info about Murphy and the other ORW military personnel.

First, I can’t recommend enough the film biography Murph: The Protector. It doesn’t give a great deal of information about the actual military operation, but it shares insight into Michael Murphy’s personality and what drove him. The trailer is here. I also recommend the book Seal of Honor: Operation Red Wings and the Life of LT. Michael P. Murphy, USN.

If you are into war movies, Lone Survivor is among the best out there. It’s based on the book by Marcus Luttrell the only survivor of Operation Red Wings.

Also check out:

Here are just a few of the places named after Michael Murphy:

  • Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy United States Post Office in Patchogue, NY
  • Michael P. Murphy Memorial Park (formerly Lake Ronkonkoma Park)
  • Navy Seal Lt. Michael P. Murphy North Patchogue-Medford Youth Athletic Club Ballfield No. 3
  • Lt. Michael P. Murphy/Penn State Veterans Plaza
  • Michael P. Murphy Memorial at Penn State
  • 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.)
  • Lt. Michael P. Murphy Combat Training Pool at Naval Station Newport, R.I.
  • LT Michael P. Murphy Division Naval Sea Cadets Corps unit in West Sayville, NY
  • Long Island Medal of Honor Recipients Memorial Plaque
  • Navy (SEAL) LT Michael P. Murphy Campus (formerly Patchogue-Medford High School in Medford, NY)
  • LT Michael P Murphy Distinguished Citizen Award
  • Murph CrossFit Workout
  • The Fort Hamilton MEPS main lobby has a memorial wall dedicated to Murphy.

The following video is a nice tribute to Murph and his Medal of Honor ceremony video is at the end of the post:

Burial: Calverton National Cemetery, Calverton, Suffolk County, New York

Medals: Medal of Honor, 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.

Sources:

The protagonist of my WIP is a physical therapist who works with wounded vets (I am working on the first draft now). Through my research I’ve discovered patriots that leave me awe-filled, many of whom gave their life for their country. If I’ve learned only one thing, it is that these soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines don’t do what they do for notoriety, they love their job, their country and their brothers (and sisters) in arms. I encourage you to do a bit of research on these warriors, but keep in mind that initial media reports often contain unverified information and for security reasons many details of operations are never revealed.