Thursday, July 12, 2007

Thanks to Joe bello of NY MetroVets for sharing this story I thought I would pass it on .

For your information. Please take a look at the links to see the pictures of Michael Murphy. This is a great story by the Daily News and I hope that they will continue with more. I look at this article as an extention of Newsweek's April 2nd issue - Voices of the Fallen. God Bless Mike and his family. Honor him and those who have died by fighting for those who return and need help! Read on...Joe

An American hero
How a loving son from New York lived and died for us all (Part 1)



Posted Sunday, April 15th 2007, 4:00 AM

Shot in the gut after holding off a swarm of Taliban militia fighters, Navy SEAL Lt. Michael Patrick Murphy dashed out to a ledge on an Afghanistan mountain to get a clear signal to call for help on his satellite radio, exposing himself to fatal gunfire.

He made the decision to give his life to save three men who served under him; one is alive today. The sacrifice has earned Murphy consideration for the nation's highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor.

What led this brave New Yorker to such a selfless act in the brutally inhospitable mountains of Afghanistan, thousands of miles away?

Those who knew him weren't surprised at how he died. Throughout his life, there were glimpses of the American hero he would become. The Daily News proudly tells the story of Michael Murphy.

Michael Murphy was 2 years old when his family moved into a house in Patchogue, L.I., in 1978, next door to a house with a built-in pool. Mike went right over as his parents spoke with the neighbors, and jumped off the diving board.

"We all headed for the pool in a panic," said his father, Daniel. "He just swam over to the side and got out with a big grin, almost like he knew he'd scare us. I knew then that he'd be okay."

He would be a daredevil all through his life, but he would also be a protector, living up to his namesake, the archangel, the patron saint of warriors and police.

His mother, Maureen, said when he was a toddler he hurt his head, blood was gushing out, and he had a gash above and below his eye.

"Mike was so brave, he saw me panic," said the mother, her eyes filling with tears, "and he said, 'It's okay, Mommy ... it doesn't hurt.'

"He was so unselfish to put his pain to the side."

Murphy was born on May 7, 1976. "He was the cutest little kid, and he picked his head up on the first day home," Maureen Murphy recalled.

He attended Canaan Elementary School and Saxton Middle School, played Little League, and developed a love for scary movies.

The blue-eyed, brown-haired boy grew up in a cozy, elegant house with porcelain teapots and family photos everywhere. He came from a family of fighters with a sense of duty.

Daniel Murphy, 60, was a prosecutor and now works for a Suffolk County judge. He earned a Purple Heart when he was wounded by sniper fire and rocket-propelled grenades on the border of Cambodia and Vietnam while fighting with the 24th Infantry Division — "Tropical Lightning" — out of Pearl Harbor. He was deemed 40% disabled by the Army.

Murphy's paternal grandfather, James, whom he called "Pop," was born on a boat from Ireland as it neared America. He served in World War II with the storied Fighting 69th. He raised a family in Ozone Park, Queens, and worked for B-line buses.

Maureen Murphy, 54, who works for a title company, spent time in Ireland as a girl, and her grandfather was imprisoned for his role in the Irish Republican movement in the 1900s.

Her son, she says, was always for the underdog, always defended people being picked on.

"The closest Mike came to 'getting in trouble' was when his middle school principal called me that Mike had been in a fight," said Maureen Murphy. "Some kids had pushed a special ed kid into a locker, and Mike got into that fight to protect the kid."

She said he was always a good student; history was his favorite subject. She recalled when he was 9, they were at a friend's house, and the friend's son happily announced he got 96 on a test.

"I asked Mike how he did, and he said, 'I did okay.' Later at home I saw he got a 98 ... he didn't want to burst the other kid's bubble," she said.

At his typical suburban sprawling brick high school, Patchogue-Medford, Murphy was in the National Honor Society and played defensive back for the school's football team, the Raiders.

One teammate, Kieran Sweeney, now a phys-ed teacher at Patchogue-Medford, said Murphy was an unassuming guy but led by example. He never missed practice.

His guidance counselor, Patty Fucci, said Murphy wanted to be a lawyer like his dad. "He put 110% into everything he did here," she said, holding his transcripts with all As.

"I knew whatever goals he had, he would achieve them," she said. "He's everything you're hearing now."

Murphy graduated in 1994 and went to Penn State University.

Meanwhile, "Murph" became close friends with Owen O'Callaghan and his twin Jimmy, Jay Keenan and Jim Emmerich, the "Five-O crew" as his father called them.

They worked as lifeguards all through high school, at Holtsville pools, Corey Beach and Lake Ronkonkoma.

"Mike always pushed himself, but he was the biggest clown," said Jim O'Callaghan. "On rainy days at the pool, he'd make a slip-and-slide with a garbage bag."

They hung out every waking moment, listening to DMX, the Beastie Boys, Biggie Smalls, drinking "40s," O'Callaghan said.

Emmerich saw the fearless side of Murphy, who would climb to the top of the flagpole at Corey, and do heart-in-mouth high dives at Holtsville. "He adjusted the spring on the diving board to project him over next to the wall ... he'd do backflips, gainers, he'd go as close to the wall as possible.

"I had a minivan with a sliding door, he'd dive into it while it was moving. He was resilient, he had a ton of courage, he was considerate, compassionate," Emmerich said.

The Murphys' second child, John, came along when Mike was about 11, and he was thrilled.

"We were never the stereotypical fighters. I wasn't the annoying, embarrassing little brother," said John, 20, a junior at New York Institute of Technology who wants to become a cop.

"He'd include me in things."

Such as a keg party when their parents went away, and a visit to Penn State because the cute little boy was "chick bait." They rooted for the Islanders, the Yankees and the Jets.

"John was his world," Emmerich said. "One time we were firing a BB gun around, and I was trying to clear the air out of the gun and Mike really yelled at me about not being careful. 'My brother is here!' he yelled."

Murphy fell in love with another Penn State student from Long Island. He and Heather Duggan met at a firemen's carnival in Patchogue, Maureen Murphy said.

When Murphy graduated Penn State in 1998, he was accepted to three law schools.

"I told him to be a teacher, but he said he couldn't do that," said Daniel Murphy. "He said maybe later ... he didn't want to be behind a desk, he wanted to help people."

Emmerich said his friend was torn between law school and the military. "I think his 'Pop' had a lot to do with his decision to join."

So Murphy approached retired Navy SEAL Capt. Drew Bisset, director of the SEAL Recruiting District Assistance Council.

"Mike was definitely above and beyond just the normal guy," Bisset said. "He was very determined; he had a very strong inner focus. He never drew attention to himself; he was humble and patriotic."

Murphy took a screening test in January 1999, and then reported to Kings Point Merchant Marine Academy every month until September 1999 for scoring tests. Only about a dozen of several hundred hopefuls get into Officer Candidate School, so they strive to improve.

They must swim 500 yards in under nine minutes, do 100 pushups, 100 situps, 20 pullups and run a mile and a half in combat boots and long pants in under nine minutes.

"Every month he'd improve," said Bisset. "He had to work at it, it wasn't easy for him."

The 5-foot-10 Murphy had everybody on the beach at Lake Ronkonkoma training with him, said Jim O'Callaghan.

"He had a pullup bar set up. It was funny; we couldn't keep up."

Murphy swam across the vast, deep lake to train for the swim test, worrying his parents, who thought of the legend surrounding the lake: an Indian princess drowned herself there over an unrequited love, and each year her spirit pulls a young man down to his death.

Murphy aced his tests. He could swim the length of five football fields in seven minutes, 47 seconds. He did 102 pushups, 87 situps, 22 pullups and ran the course in eight minutes, 55 seconds.

"He was an outstanding leader. His actions spoke louder than his words," said Bisset.

In December 1999, Murphy's grandfather James died. Emmerich remembered the funeral at Calverton National Cemetery. "I'd never seen Mike cry, and he just stood there crying with his hand on the casket."

Within a few months Murphy would attend Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Fla., then go on to Naval Amphibious Base Coronado in San Diego for intense tactical training.

He was on his way to being a Navy SEAL.


An American Hero

Navy SEAL was an officer and a gentleman right to the end (Part 2)


Monday, April 16, 2007, 4:00 AM

There are fewer than 2,500 Navy SEALs, and their training tells you why.

Michael Murphy headed to Naval Amphibious Base Coronado in San Diego for Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training, six grueling months of physical conditioning and instruction in scuba skills, long-distance underwater transit dives, land navigation, small-unit tactics, rappelling, military land and underwater explosives and weapons training.

Then there were months of advanced training at specialty schools for foreign languages, SEAL tactical communications, sniper, and military free-fall parachuting. At jump school, he learned to jump from heights of up to 25,000 feet.

He looked to his father for inspiration.

"He asked me to send him a picture I have of me when I was in the hospital in Vietnam," Daniel Murphy said. "He said, 'I want to hold on to that. If you got through being wounded, I can get through Hell Week.'"

He got through, and graduated Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL as an officer of special warfare three weeks after 9/11. His father, mother Maureen, brother John, and friends Jim Emmerich and Jay Keenan flew out for the ceremony.

"We took the same flight from Boston, on American Airlines, that the hijackers took on 9/11," said Maureen Murphy. "But nothing was going to stop me from getting to San Diego."

Four hundred clean-cut men who all looked alike in their dress uniforms came marching in, Daniel Murphy recalled, "and Maureen spotted Mike right away."

When he came home on leave he never wore any clothes with the SEAL insignia, never told people he was one. "He showed up in ripped jeans, a T-shirt, still Mike," said Emmerich, a high school math teacher.

Murphy sported a Celtic cross tattoo on one shoulder, and when overseas he wore an FDNY T-shirt everyday, honoring his buddy Owen O'Callaghan, who at the time was a firefighter with Engine 53, Ladder 43, in East Harlem. He wore the red-and-orange patch for "El Barrio's Bravest" on the right shoulder pocket of his battle dress uniform.

His mentor, retired Navy SEAL Capt. Drew Bisset, said Murphy was always giving back. When he came home on leave, he'd show up at Kings Point Merchant Marine Academy and give a pep talk to the SEAL hopefuls.

Murphy had been to exotic locales and trouble spots around the globe, but spoke little of his missions. He had been in Jordan before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, in Iraq twice, Qatar, Djibouti in East Africa and Afghanistan.

O'Callaghan's twin, Jim, a Suffolk County cop, said, "Mike would be in Iraq, or Somalia, telling us to be safe. He always thought of other people."

Emmerich remembered meeting Murphy at Irish Times, a bar, after he had been in Iraq once.

"He was different, very blank, I asked how it's going and he said, 'Good,'" Emmerich said. "You could tell Mike's been to war."

Murphy sent his mother gifts, a compact engraved Momma, and an angel figurine of pink glass, packed in a box she cherishes because on it he wrote, "Momma, your my angel. Love, Mike."

Maureen Murphy still marvels at how a big, tough man could pick out such a delicate trinket.

She adorned the living room window of the family house in Patchogue with a small flag made of red, white and blue lights which she'd turn off only when her son was home on leave. Then she decided she'd keep it on until all the service people come home.

At Christmas 2003, Murphy and Heather Duggan got engaged.

"He adored her," his mother said. "He carried the engagement ring with him everywhere in his backpack until he gave it to her at the Rockefeller Center tree."

They were to be married on Nov. 19, 2005.

In January 2005, Murphy was promoted to lieutenant and went on a training mission on the West Coast before deployment to Afghanistan. A fellow lieutenant in Alpha Platoon, Mario Melendez, recalled how the "hard-as-nails" Murphy saved the platoon from failing a tough task.

"It was 2 in the morning, and we were cold and tired, and our equipment was flooded and malfunctioning, and we couldn't establish contact," Melendez said. "Mike took another guy and they walked for a couple miles to get a position to establish communication, and we completed the mission. He singlehandedly saved our butts that night. "I'd like to think we're all like that, but he was that way all the time, and very humble about it."

Six months later, Murphy and his reconnaissance and surveillance team were 9,000 feet up in the forested mountains along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, in the Hindu Kush region, sent there to capture or kill high-value Taliban target Ahmad Shah, known as Ismail.

On June 28, 2005, the four-man field team, in camouflage and scruffy beards, encountered a pair of Afghan goatherds, one of them a young boy. Their lives and the classified mission to find Ismail were now at risk.

Murphy decided to let them go, rather than kill or capture them.

Military sources said it was not clear that the goatherds intentionally alerted anyone to the SEALs' presence, but two hours later Taliban militiamen headed toward their position.

A running firefight began as the Taliban attacked from three sides. The SEALs leapfrogged backward down the steep slope, covering each other as they moved.

For about 30 minutes, the four men fought on, as ammunition ran low, according to military officials.

Three SEALs were wounded by gunfire or rocket-propelled grenades. One screamed, "I'm hit!" Murphy yelled back, "We're all hit! Keep moving!"

Forty-five minutes into the harrowing battle, Murphy decided to radio for a quick-reaction force to get the team off the mountain. He crept into the open to get a clear signal.

"Troops in contact!" Murphy radioed, according to a source who heard the transmission.

Murphy was bleeding from severe wounds in his arm and stomach, but still firing his M-4 rifle at the enemy and exhorting his men to escape while he held off their attackers.

Gunner's Mate 2nd Class Danny Dietz, 25, of Littleton, Colo., was the first to die as they tumbled 2,600 feet downhill, firing the whole way. Sonar Technician 2nd Class Matthew Axelson, 29, of Cupertino, Calif., fell next.

Murphy's radio call reached Bagram, about 100 miles west of Asadabad and the military's hub for Operation Red Wing, the campaign against Taliban militia and Al Qaeda terrorists along the border.

Two Chinook helicopters raced to save the team. One, carrying eight SEALs and eight Army Special Forces troops, was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade and crashed, killing all 16 aboard.

With the deaths of Murphy, Dietz and Axelson, it was the worst loss of life for the elite Navy commando group.

It took several days to recover the bodies of the team. Murphy was found July 4, quickly recognized by his muddy FDNY T-shirt.

The fourth member of Murphy's team, Petty Officer Marcus Luttrell, was slammed by a rocket-propelled grenade but managed to crawl through the mountains for four days, until he was found by a local shepherd who bandaged his wounds and gave him sanctuary. He was later rescued by U.S. forces.

Luttrell has written a book about the ordeal, called "The Lone Survivor," due out in June.

"He has told us, and everyone he meets, that Michael saved his life," said Daniel Murphy.

Dietz, Axelson and Luttrell were awarded the Navy Cross, a combat valor medal second only to the Medal of Honor. Murphy earned the Silver Star and Purple Heart, and is being considered for the Navy Cross, and possibly the Medal of Honor.

"They died trying to save him as much as he sacrificed his life for them," Daniel Murphy said. He added that Rear Adm. Joseph Maguire, chief of special operations for the Navy, told him, "Don't think these men went down easily ... Taliban bodies were strewn all over, 30-40 were killed, with a total of 80 casualties from the four-man team. Satellite recon tracked 80-100 people coming over the border."

"We always knew he was a tough son of a bitch, but he was so nice," said Emmerich. "I'd ask him, 'Are you afraid to die?' and he'd dismiss it. I don't think he was." When he called for the helicopter he was already severely wounded, more bullets whizzed toward him and still Murphy kept his cool to give the coordinates of his position.

And at the end of the transmission, ever the officer and gentleman, he said, "Thank you."