- Associated Press Writer
October 12, 2007
GARDEN CITY, N.Y. – A Navy SEAL from Long Island will be the first member of the armed forces to receive the nation’s highest military award for valor — the Medal of Honor — for combat in Afghanistan, the Navy said.
President Bush announced Thursday that the Medal of Honor would be posthumously awarded to Lt. Michael P. Murphy, of Patchogue, who was killed while leading a reconnaissance mission deep behind enemy lines in Afghanistan in 2005. The medal recognizes valor in action against an enemy force.
|Michael Patrick Murphy|
Navy Lt. Michael Murphy, while shot and wounded in Afghanistan, managed to crawl onto a ridgeline and radio headquarters at the nearby air base for them to send in reinforcements. He later died of his wounds. He will be awarded the Medal of Honor on Oct. 22.
Two Medals of Honor have been awarded posthumously in the Iraq war: to Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham, who was killed in 2004 after covering a grenade with his helmet; and to Army Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith, who was killed in 2003 after holding off Iraqi forces with a machine gun before he was killed at the Baghdad airport.
Bush is to present the Medal of Honor to Murphy’s parents, Daniel and Maureen Murphy, at a White House ceremony on Oct. 22.
Both parents described the honor as bittersweet at a news conference Thursday, balacing their loss with their pride in their son, who was 29.
“It almost is like a snapshot of how he lived his life,” Maureen Murphy said. “We know how he was, but now the nation knows what a brave and honorable man he grew up to be.”
According to a Navy citation, Michael Murphy and three fellow SEALs were searching for a terrorist in the Afghan mountains on June 28, 2005, when their mission was compromised after they were spotted by locals, who presumably reported their presence and location to the Taliban.
A fierce firefight ensued, with more than 50 anti-coalition militia firing on the outnumbered SEALs.
Despite the intensity of the firefight, Murphy _ already wounded _ is credited with risking his own life to save the lives of his comrades by moving into the open for a better position to transmit a call for help.
While still under fire, Murphy provided his unit’s location and the size of the enemy force. 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.
Murphy then returned to his cover position with his men and continued the battle.
By the end of the two-hour gunfight, Murphy and two of his comrades were dead. An estimated 35 Taliban were also killed. The fourth member of their team managed to escape and was protected by local villagers for several days before he was rescued.
“His sacrifice reminds us of the dangers the men and women of our armed forces face in order to defend our nation,” said Rep. Timothy Bishop, a Democrat who represents eastern Long Island. “I can think of no one more deserving of this medal today. It can never make up for his loss, but it extends the honor which he and his family so well deserve.”
A 1994 graduate of Patchogue-Medford High School, Murphy attended Penn State University, where he graduated with honors with bachelor’s degrees in both political science and psychology. He was accepted to several law schools but instead accepted an appointment to the Navy’s Officer Candidate School in September 2000.
Murphy is the fourth Navy SEAL to earn the award and the first since Vietnam. His heroics have been widely recognized on Long Island, with the Patchogue post office renamed in his honor.
“I guess what bothers me most is that he was a man who had so much to offer the world, and now he’s not here anymore to carry on and make the world even a better place,” Murphy’s father said. “He accomplished so much in 29 years, but he could have accomplished so much more.”
Link to the Navy Times: