Michael P. Murphy was a United States Navy SEAL officer who was awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration, for his actions during the War in Afghanistan. He was killed on June 28, 2005, after he exposed himself to enemy fire to call for help for his team, who were surrounded by Taliban forces.
A Life of Service and Leadership
Michael P. Murphy was born on May 7, 1976, in Smithtown, New York, to Irish American parents. He graduated from Pennsylvania State University with honors and dual degrees in political science and psychology.
He joined the United States Navy in 2000 and became a Navy SEAL in 2002. He was assigned to SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team One in Hawaii and later to SEAL Team 10 in Virginia. He participated in several missions in the War on Terrorism, including Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
The Operation Red Wings and the Final Stand
On June 28, 2005, Murphy led a four-man reconnaissance team, consisting of himself, Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Danny Dietz, Sonar Technician 2nd Class Matthew Axelson, and Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Marcus Luttrell, on a mission to locate a high-ranking Taliban leader in the mountains of Kunar Province, Afghanistan.
The team was spotted by local goat herders, who alerted the Taliban forces in the area. The team was soon surrounded by over 50 enemy fighters, who attacked them with rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, and mortars. The team fought back valiantly, but they were outnumbered and outgunned.
Murphy realized that the only way to save his team was to call for backup. He decided to leave his cover position and move to a clearing, where he could get a clear signal with his satellite phone. He knew that this would expose him to enemy fire, but he did not hesitate to make the sacrifice. He managed to contact the headquarters and request immediate support, but he was shot several times in the process
His call enabled the rescue of Luttrell, the only survivor of the team, and the recovery of the bodies of his fallen comrades. However, the rescue helicopter that was sent to extract the team was also shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade, killing all 16 personnel on board. The total death toll of the operation was 19, making it the worst single-day loss of life for the U.S. Navy SEALs and
The Honors and Legacy
Murphy was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor on October 22, 2007, by President George W. Bush, who presented the medal to his parents at the White House.
Murphy’s heroic actions and selfless sacrifice have inspired many tributes and honors, both military and civilian. Some of them include:
- The establishment of the LT Michael P
- renaming of the Patchogue-Medford High School campus, where he graduated, as the Navy (SEAL) Lt. Michael P.
- The creation of the Lt. Michael P. Murphy Award in Geospatial Intelligence, which recognizes the achievements of a graduate student who is serving or has served in the U.S.
Michael P. Murphy was a true American hero, who gave his life for his country and his teammates. He exemplified the Navy SEAL motto: “The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday”. He will always be remembered and honored for his courage, loyalty, and leadership.