Michael P Murphy

A Fallen Soldier

Recognizing the Honor of a Son — Together Again

I live in the town of Chappaqua, about forty miles north of New York City. Lt. Michael P.Murphy’s family also lives in the suburbs of New York City, on Long Island. Being in the suburbs is not the same as living in the city, but as a suburban subscriber to the New York Times, I receive a special supplement.

A recent issue of that supplement, published on November 11, 2007, has a long and very well-written piece by Michael Winerip, Parenting: Recognizing the Honor of a Son .

The article appeared on the weekend before Veteran’s Day. It also appeared in the “Parenting” section, and so has much about Lt. Murphy’s family, especially his parents. Here are some excerpts about Lt. Murphy and his parents.

This is Daniel and Maureen Murphy’s third Veterans Day without their son Michael, but it’s different this time. This Veterans Day, so many people now know the story of Lt. Michael P. Murphy, the Navy Seal from Patchogue killed in action in Afghanistan on June 28, 2005, at age 29 and posthumously selected for the nation’s highest military award, the Medal of Honor, presented by President Bush to his parents on Oct. 22.

“The media treated us very well, the reporting was excellent as far as getting Michael’s story and Michael’s life out,” said Mr. Murphy, 60, a lawyer.

Mr. Murphy, himself a wounded veteran of Vietnam, knows firsthand how differently the press and the public have responded to the veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.

“This time, people are not taking it out on returning soldiers,” Mr. Murphy said. “They have been able to draw the distinction: honor the warrior no matter what your attitude about the war.”

Lieutenant Murphy’s mother, who works for a local title company, said, “I haven’t met anybody negative.”

His parents said they never worried whether Michael the boy could take care of himself, but they did fear he was a little too altruistic for his own good. “We always worried he’d get killed standing up for some kid or swimming out to rescue someone,” his father said.

Every few months, something else is named for their son: Lt. Michael P. Murphy Post Office Building in Patchogue; Michael P. Murphy Beach at Lake Ronkonkoma; Navy Seal Lt. Michael P. Murphy North Patchogue-Medford Youth Athletic Club Ballfield No. 3 (where the father coached the son).

Mr. Murphy’s own life — as a Vietnam veteran wounded by an enemy grenade; as a prosecutor in the Suffolk County district attorney’s office, used to dealing with the press; as the current law clerk to a State Supreme Court justice in Riverhead; and as a self-described “nonideological,” moderate Republican — has made him an unusually expert and balanced witness to both his son’s death and his son’s elevation to national hero.

His views are not easily pigeonholed.

While he urged his son not to join the military, based on his own experience in Vietnam as “cannon fodder,” he said, he strongly supported his son once he did.

Since combat began in Afghanistan and Iraq, the families of about 4,300 American servicemen and servicewomen have had the visit. For the Murphys, it lasted a week. On the afternoon of June 28, 2005, Michael’s fiancée, Heather Duggan, called saying she had heard a news report about a helicopter carrying Navy Seals that had been downed in Afghanistan. The Murphys did not know it then, but that helicopter was answering their son’s call for help, and when it crashed after being struck by a rocket-propelled grenade, eight soldiers and eight Seals died.

That night, a Navy officer visited the Patchogue home where Michael had grown up and where his mother, Maureen, still lives with his brother, John, now 20. (Daniel and Maureen have been divorced for several years, but they have remained close.) The officer told the Murphys that his team was missing. For the next week, the family got updates four times a day from a Seal commander who spent all his waking hours with them.

Because of the rigorous Seal training — of the 196 candidates in Michael’s class, only 28 made it to Seal — the Murphys were hopeful about their son’s chances.

And third, he said, his son would never have seriously considered killing noncombatants.

“He wouldn’t be able to live with himself,” Mr. Murphy said. “Michael’s view was there are more good people in this world than bad, and he gave people the benefit of the doubt. He was definitely not going to kill a 14-year-old boy who would have reminded him of his brother.”

Mr. Murphy said that “even knowing the outcome” he was proud that his son let the herders go.

The conclusion is so heart-wrenching it deserves a special section of its own:

THE only serviceman to win the Medal of Honor for heroism in Afghanistan is buried in Section 67, Plot 3710 at Calverton National Cemetery, off Exit 68 of the Long Island Expressway, 12 miles from the home where he grew up. “I go every Friday,” Ms. Murphy said. “I talk to Mike, tell him what’s new. I told him about the Medal of Honor. I said, ‘You probably already know.’ I said, ‘You did good, kid.’”

A new headstone is being cut to add the new honor. The government’s standard white marble markers stick out of the ground only 26 inches, and it was hard fitting in all Lieutenant Murphy’s information. “It took four versions before we got it right,” says the father.

As a veteran, Mr. Murphy, who now lives in Wading River, is entitled to be buried at Calverton and has requested the plot beside his son. “It’s all spelled out in my will,” he says, including the final line he wants etched on his tombstone: “Together Again.”


November 26, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

President Bush Praises Lt. Michael P. Murphy in Weekly Radio Address, November 24, 2007

I was driving to Brooklyn yesterday when I heard the main local news station, WCBS 880, mention that President Bush had praised a local soldier who had died in Afghanistan. As soon as they said he was a Navy Seal I knew they were talking about Lt. Michael P. Murphy. I also then hoped that many of Lt. Murphy’s friends and family in nearby Long Island heard mention of him in the WCBS newscast.

I just checked via Google and see that President Bush mentioned Lt. Murphy in his weekly radio broadcast on Saturday, November 24, 2007.

Here are some links to reports on the speech, along with excerpts of the parts that mention Lt. Murphy.

Bush Extends Thanks to Troops Overseas:

Bush recalled the story of Lt. Michael Murphy, a Navy SEAL whom the president posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in October. In 2005 in Afghanistan, Murphy exposed himself to deadly enemy fire on the battlefield in order to make a desperate call for help for his elite combat team.

“This weekend, we give thanks for the blessings of young Americans like Lt. Michael Murphy, who risk their own lives to keep us safe,” the president said.

Bush hails LI Medal of Honor winner’s heroism. Newsday is Long Island’s main newspaper. This article includes a picture of Lt. Murphy:

Calling on Americans to be thankful for the sacrifices made by soldiers overseas, President George W. Bush Saturday hailed a Long Island Navy SEAL whose heroism in Afghanistan cost him his life and earned him the nation’s highest military award.

In his Saturday radio address, Bush recalled the actions of Lt. Michael Murphy of Patchogue, who was killed trying to save his three subordinates in a mountainside firefight with insurgents near the Pakistan border in June 2005.

Bush, who posthumously awarded Murphy the Medal of Honor last month, briefly recounted Murphy’s desperate call for reinforcements as his team was surrounded.

“With complete disregard for his own life, Michael Murphy moved into a clearing where he could get a signal,” Bush said. “As he made the call, Michael fell under heavy fire. Though severely wounded, he said ‘thank you’ before signing off, and returned to the fight.”

Murphy, 29, and two members of his team were killed as they fled down the mountainside. The lone survivor, Petty Officer 1st Class Marcus Luttrell, has written a book about the battle.

“This weekend, we give thanks for the blessings of young Americans like Lieutenant Michael Murphy, who risk their own lives to keep us safe,” Bush said.

Reached Saturday, Murphy’s father, Daniel Murphy, of Wading River, said he was unaware that the president had spoken of his son during the Saturday address but was honored by it.

“That was nice of him,” Daniel Murphy, 60, said.

At a Medal of Honor ceremony at the White House last month, Bush met privately with Murphy’s family and told Daniel Murphy that his son was an inspiration.

“The fact that he mentioned Michael during this Thanksgiving season shows that what he portrayed at the White House were his true feelings,” Daniel Murphy said.

Murphy arose early Thanksgiving Day to visit his son’s grave site at Calverton National Cemetery, laying a bouquet of autumn flowers near the tombstone before having dinner with in-laws.

He said most Americans are so preoccupied with day-to-day challenges that they often lose sight of the sacrifices made by military personnel. But he said most Americans do appreciate those sacrifices during reflective moments, particularly during the holidays.

“It’s not like World War II when there were sacrifices on a daily basis in terms of collecting clothes and rationing, so it’s not as immediate for people now,” Murphy said. “So we rely on the press and families like mine to remind them that there are people out there who put their lives on the line to defend us.”

The New York Islanders held a brief ceremony last night in recognition of Lt. Murphy and his family, Daniel Murphy said.

Transcript: President Bush’s Radio Address. This article has the complete transcript of President Bush’s speech, which is reproduced below. I have emphasized the instances of Lt. Murphy’s name.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Good morning. This week our Nation celebrated Thanksgiving. American families and friends gathered together to express gratitude for all that we have been given. We give thanks for the freedoms we enjoy. We give thanks for the loved ones who enrich our lives. And we give thanks for the many gifts that come from this prosperous land. Thanksgiving is a time when we acknowledge that all of these things, and life itself, come not from the hand of man, but from Almighty God.

Earlier this week, I visited Berkeley Plantation in Virginia. The story of this historic setting goes back nearly four centuries to another day of thanks. In 1619, a band of 38 settlers departed Bristol, England for Berkeley. At the end of their long voyage, the men reviewed their orders from home. The orders said, quote, “The day of our ship’s arrival … shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of Thanksgiving to Almighty God.” In response, the men fell to their knees in prayer. And with this humble act of faith, the settlers celebrated their first Thanksgiving in the New World.

Berkeley’s settlers remind us that giving thanks has been an American tradition from the beginning. At this time of year, we also remember the Pilgrims at Plymouth, who gave thanks after their first harvest in New England. We remember George Washington, who led his men in thanksgiving during the American Revolution. We remember Abraham Lincoln, who revived the Thanksgiving tradition in the midst of a terrible civil war.

Throughout our history, Americans have always taken time to give thanks for all those whose sacrifices protect and strengthen our Nation. We continue that tradition today — and we give thanks for a new generation of patriots who are defending our liberty around the world. We are grateful to all our men and women in uniform who are spending this holiday weekend far from their families. We keep them in our thoughts and prayers. And we especially remember those who have given their lives in our Nation’s defense.

One of these brave Americans was Lieutenant Michael Murphy. In June 2005, this officer gave his life in defense of his fellow Navy SEALs. Michael was conducting surveillance on a mountain ridge in Afghanistan, when his four-man SEAL team was surrounded by a much larger enemy force. Their only escape was down the side of the mountain. The SEALs launched a valiant counterattack while cascading from cliff to cliff. But as the enemy closed in, Michael recognized that the survival of his men depended on calling back to base for reinforcements.

With complete disregard for his own life, Michael Murphy moved into a clearing where he could get a signal. As he made the call, Michael fell under heavy fire. Though severely wounded, he said “thank you” before signing off, and returned to the fight. His heroism cost him his life — and earned him our Nation’s highest decoration for valor, the Medal of Honor. This weekend, we give thanks for the blessings of young Americans like Lieutenant Michael Murphy, who risk their own lives to keep us safe.

We’re also blessed by the many other Americans who serve a cause larger than themselves. Each day our Nation’s police and firefighters and emergency responders and faith-based and community volunteers dedicate their time to serving others. While we were enjoying our Thanksgiving turkeys, tens of thousands of these men and women were on the job — keeping their fellow citizens safe and bringing hope and compassion to our brothers and sisters in need. And their sacrifice reminds us that the true strength of our Nation is the goodness and decency of our people.

Since America’s first Thanksgiving, we have changed in many ways. Our population has grown. Our people have prospered. And we have become a great beacon of hope and freedom for millions around the world. Despite these changes, the source of all our blessings remains the same. We are grateful to the Author of Life who blessed our Nation’s first days, who strengthened America in times of trial and war, and who watches over us today.

Thank you for listening.

Bush Urges Americans to Give Thanks for Troops in Iraq, Afghanistan

Bush recalled the story of Lt. Michael Murphy, a Navy SEAL whom the president posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in October. In 2005 in Afghanistan, Murphy exposed himself to deadly enemy fire on the battlefield in order to make a desperate call for help for his elite combat team.

“This weekend, we give thanks for the blessings of young Americans like Lt. Michael Murphy, who risk their own lives to keep us safe,” the president said.

Bush Extends Thanks to Troops Overseas:

Bush recalled the story of Lt. Michael Murphy, a Navy SEAL whom the president posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in October. In 2005 in Afghanistan, Murphy exposed himself to deadly enemy fire on the battlefield in order to make a desperate call for help for his elite combat team.

“This weekend, we give thanks for the blessings of young Americans like Lt. Michael Murphy, who risk their own lives to keep us safe,” the president said.

November 25, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Medal of Honor Citation

Here is the full text of the Medal of Honor Citation for Lt. Michael P. Murphy, as reported by the U. S. Navy:




For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life and 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, Lieutenant Murphy reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

October 30, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Michael P. Murphy: A Protector as a Child, Honored as a Hero

[Copied as published in the New York Times on October 22, 2007. Permission to reprint the article in full is being sought from the Times. DaveShields]

A Protector as a Child, Honored as a Hero


In June 2005, Lt. Michael P. Murphy and three fellow members of the Navy Seals were on a mission in the mountains of Afghanistan when they were pinned down by a swarm of enemy fighters. Trapped in a steep ravine, they were unable to get a radio signal to call for help.

With the Americans suffering injuries, ammunition running low and roughly 100 Taliban fighters closing in, Lieutenant Murphy made a bold but fateful decision: He left the sheltering mountain rocks into an open area where he hoped to get a radio frequency.

He managed to make contact with Bagram Air Base, calling in his unit’s location and the size of the enemy force, even as he came under direct fire, according to a declassified Navy account of the battle.

He also was shot several times and died.

Today, President Bush will award Lieutenant Murphy, a team leader from Patchogue, the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military award. Mr. Bush will present it to Lieutenant Murphy’s father and mother, Daniel and Maureen, in a ceremony scheduled to take place in the East Room.

Mr. Murphy said his son’s action in battle was typical of the sort of selflessness he displayed even as a child, recalling an episode when he got into a scrap with three bullies in middle school who tried to shove a disabled student in a locker.

“He just jumped in,” Mr. Murphy said, noting that it was the kind of action that led him and his former wife to refer to their oldest son as “the Protector” when he was a boy. “That was Michael’s way.”

Lieutenant Murphy, who was 29 and engaged, is the first member of the military to receive the medal for service in the war in Afghanistan. The war in Iraq has produced two Medal of Honor recipients, most recently in January when Marine Cpl. Jason L. Dunham, a recruit from upstate New York, received the award posthumously.

Early in his life, Lieutenant Murphy appeared to possess the qualities that would make him the kind of candidate sought by the Seals, an elite Navy unit known for daring, physical toughness and mental acuity.

He was a member of the National Honor Society in Patchogue-Medford High School, a lifeguard and a solid athlete. He attended Pennsylvania State University, where he played hockey and graduated with two bachelor’s degrees, in political science and psychology.

His options after graduating in 1998 were wide open, and he was accepted into several law schools. He chose to join the military and train to become a Navy commando. He attended the Navy’s Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Fla., and then completed the Seals’ harsh training program and became a member of the Seals in April 2002.

It was a significant achievement for Lieutenant Murphy, who was not quite 6 feet tall, slight compared with the physically imposing members of the Seals. Each year, 50 to 200 sailors graduate from the training program. The dropout rate is 74 percent, according to the Navy.

His final mission was on June 28, 2005, when he led a four-man Seal unit searching for a Taliban leader behind enemy lines. The Americans were spotted about 24 hours after being dropped in a mountainous stretch of eastern Afghanistan’s Kunar Province, according to the Navy. A firefight erupted. The Americans, vastly outnumbered, took cover in the steep slopes as the batted raged for more than two hours.

But then, according to Hospital Corpsman Marcus Luttrell, the unit’s only survivor that day, Lieutenant Murphy made his way toward the exposed ridge between the mountains, making him an easy target. “I was cursing at him from where I was,” he recalled in an interview. “I was saying, ‘What are you doing?’ Then I realized that he was making a call. But then he started getting hit. He finished the call, picked up his rifle and started fighting again. But he was overrun.”

The call placed by Lieutenant Murphy led American commanders to dispatch a small rescue force that included an MH-47 Chinook helicopter with eight Seals members and eight Army special operations soldiers. But a rocket-propelled grenade struck the slow-moving helicopter as it approached, killing all 16 men aboard. Lieutenant Murphy and two others in his unit were killed in the firefight. Corpsman Luttrell escaped, and took refuge in a village until he was rescued several days later.

Corpsman Luttrell and the other two men who were killed, Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Danny P. Dietz and Sonar Technician 2nd Class Matthew G. Axelson, all received the Navy Cross.

Mr. Bush approved Lieutenant Murphy’s nomination for the medal on Oct. 11, more than two years after his commanders recommended him for an award to recognize his actions in battle.

Since the medal was created during the Civil War, it has been bestowed on more than 3,400 soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and coast guardsmen, according to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society in Mount Pleasant, S.C.

Lieutenant Murphy is the first member of the Navy to receive the medal since the Vietnam War, a Navy spokesman said.

In an interview, Daniel Murphy said that he was not surprised to learn about his son’s actions. “What Maureen and I always worried about was that he would put himself in danger to help someone else, which turned out to be true,” he said.

The article is accompanied by two photos:

Lt. Michael P. Murphy of the Navy Seals died during a firefight in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan in June 2005.

Lt. Michael P. Murphy chose the Navy over law school.

October 23, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Michael P. Murphy

This site honors the memory of Michael P. Murphy, a Navy SEAL who was killed while engaged in combat in the mountains of Afghanistan in June, 2005.

Lt. Murphy was awarded the Medal of Honor.

[more information will be forthcoming — starting this as a placeholder.]

October 23, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment