Military Wiki
Michael Patrick Murphy
Nickname "Murph"
Born (1976-05-07)May 7, 1976
Died June 28, 2005(2005-06-28) (aged 29)
Place of birth Smithtown, New York, U.S.
Place of death Kunar Province, Afghanistan
Buried at Calverton National Cemetery
Calverton, New York, U.S.
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 2000–2005
Rank Lieutenant
Unit United States Navy SEALs
SDV Team 1
Battles/wars War in Afghanistan
Operation Red Wings

Medal of Honor ribbon.svg Medal of Honor
Silver Star ribbon.svg Silver Star
Purple Heart BAR.svg Purple Heart
National Defense Service Medal ribbon.svg National Defense Service Medal
USN Expert Rifle Ribbon.png Navy Rifle Marksmanship Medal

USN Expert Pistol Shot Ribbon.png Navy Pistol Marksmanship Medal

Michael Patrick Murphy (May 7, 1976 – June 28, 2005) was a United States Navy SEAL lieutenant and the first person to be awarded the U.S. military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions during the War in Afghanistan. He was also the first member of the U.S. Navy to receive the award since the Vietnam War. His other posthumous awards included the Silver Star and Purple Heart.

Michael Murphy was born and raised in Suffolk County, New York. He graduated from Pennsylvania State University with honors and dual degrees in political science and psychology. After college he accepted a commission in the United States Navy and became a United States Navy SEAL in July 2002. After participating in several War on Terror missions, he was killed on June 28, 2005, after his team was compromised and surrounded by Taliban forces near Asadabad, Afghanistan.

Since his death, a United States Navy destroyer, a post office, a combat training pool at Naval Station Newport, a Sea Cadet unit and a park have been named in his honor.

Early life

Murphy was born May 7, 1976 in Smithtown, New York to Irish American parents Maureen and Daniel Murphy, a former assistant Suffolk County district attorney.[1] He was raised in Patchogue and as a boy attended Saxton Middle School where he played youth soccer and pee-wee football with his father as coach. In high school, he continued playing sports and took a summer job as a lifeguard at the Brookhaven town beach in Lake Ronkonkoma. He returned to the job every summer through his college years.[1]

Murphy was known to his friends as "Murph" and he was known as "The Protector" in his high school years. In 8th grade he protected a special needs child who was being shoved into a locker by a group of boys. He also protected a homeless man who was collecting cans. He chased away the attackers and helped the man pick up his cans.[2]

In 1994 Murphy graduated from Patchogue-Medford High School and left home to attend Pennsylvania State University (Penn State). He graduated from Penn State in 1998 with degrees in both political science and psychology.[1]

Military career

Michael Murphy in tan and brown desert camouflage looking at the camera. He is wearing several pieces of green military combat gear and is holding a weapon. There is a hill behind him covered in rocks, dirt and sticks.

Navy photo taken in Afghanistan

After graduating from Penn State, Murphy was accepted to several law schools, but decided to attend SEAL mentoring sessions at the United States Merchant Marine Academy. In September 2000, he accepted an appointment to the U.S. Navy's Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Florida. On December 13 of that year, he was commissioned as an Ensign in the Navy and began Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training in Coronado, California in January 2001, eventually graduating with Class 236.[1]

Upon graduation from BUD/S, he attended the United States Army Airborne School, SEAL Qualification Training and SEAL Delivery Vehicle (SDV) school. Murphy earned his SEAL Trident and checked on board SDV Team ONE (SDVT-1) in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii in July 2002. In October 2002, he deployed with Foxtrot Platoon to Jordan as the liaison officer for Exercise Early Victor. Following his tour with SDVT-1, Murphy was assigned to Special Operations Command Central (SOCCENT) in Florida and deployed to Qatar in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. After returning from Qatar, he was deployed to Djibouti to assist in the operational planning of future SDV missions.[1]

Combat in Afghanistan

Operation Enduring Freedom is the official name used by the United States Government for its War in Afghanistan, together with three smaller military actions under the umbrella of its Global War on Terror.[3] The war began on October 7, 2001 with the response of the United States and United Kingdom to the September 11 attacks in New York City and Arlington, Virginia. In early 2005, Murphy was assigned to SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team ONE as officer in charge of Alpha Platoon and deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.[1]

Operation Red Wings

A color image of six military personnel dressed in their combat uniforms and holding weapons.

SEALs of Operation Red Wings, Murphy is on the far right.

Operation Red Wings was a failed counter-insurgent mission in Kunar province, Afghanistan, involving four members of the United States Navy SEALs. Murphy and two other SEALs were killed in the fighting in addition to 16 American Special Operations Forces soldiers who were killed when their helicopter was shot down while attempting to extract the SEAL Team. Prior to a helicopter being shot down in 2011,[4][5] it was both the largest loss of life for American forces since the invasion began[6] and the largest loss for the SEALs since the Vietnam War. Marcus Luttrell was the only surviving American sailor from the squad; he was protected by local villagers who sent an emissary to the closest military base allowing a rescue team to locate him.

A map of the area and plan relating to Operation Red Wings

The map given to the Navy SEALs detailing their mission.

Murphy led the four-man reconnaissance team on a mission to kill or capture a top Taliban leader, Ahmad Shah (code name Ben Sharmak),[7] who commanded a group of insurgents known as the "Mountain Tigers,"[8] west of Asadabad.[9][10] The group was dropped off by helicopter in a remote, mountainous area east of Asadabad in Kunar Province, near the Pakistan border. After an initially successful infiltration, local goat herders stumbled upon the SEALs' hiding place. Unable to verify any hostile intent from the herders,[11] Murphy asked the team what should be done with them. Matthew Axelson reportedly voted to kill the Afghans, and Danny Dietz did not offer an opinion, causing Murphy to state that he would vote the same as Marcus Luttrell, who said the herders should be set free.[9] Hostile locals, possibly the goat herders they let pass, alerted 150 to 200[citation needed] nearby Taliban forces, who surrounded and attacked the small group. After Murphy called for help, an MH-47 Chinook helicopter loaded with reinforcements was dispatched to rescue the team, but was shot down with an RPG, killing all 16 personnel aboard; eight SEALs and eight service members from the 160th SOAR.[1]

By the end of the two-hour battle, an undisclosed number of Taliban soldiers (which is estimated at 70% by some sources), Murphy, Dietz, and Axelson were killed in the action. Luttrell was the only American survivor and was eventually rescued after several days of wandering the mountain and being protected by the people of an Afghanistan village.[1] All three of Murphy's men were awarded the Navy's second-highest honor, the Navy Cross, for their part in the battle making theirs the most decorated Navy SEAL team in history.[12]

Death and burial

A military grave stone with an image of a man with a cross next to it. Also shows the name of the individual and info about them with an image of the Medal of Honor.

Lt. Murphy's grave in Calverton, Long Island

LT Murphy was killed June 28, 2005 after exposing himself to enemy fire and knowingly leaving his position of cover to get a clear signal in order to communicate with his headquarters. He provided his unit’s location and requested immediate support for his element and then returned to his position to continue fighting until he died from his wounds.[1]

On July 4, 2005 Murphy's remains were found by a group of American soldiers during a combat search and rescue operation and returned to the United States. Later that month, Murphy was buried on Long Island in Calverton National Cemetery, Calverton, New York, Section 67, Grave No. 3710.[13]

Honors and awards

During his military career, LT Murphy received 10 different military decorations, including: the Medal of Honor, Silver Star, Purple Heart, Joint Service Commendation Medal, and Navy Commendation Medal.[1] Since his death, a post office in his home town, a park and a guided missile destroyer, the USS Michael Murphy (DDG-112), have been named in his honor.[14]

Military awards

A gold image depicting an eagle perched on an anchor, clutching a trident with one claw and a gun in the other.
A light blue military ribbon with five white stars with five points each. 
A multicolored military ribbon. From left to right the color pattern is; thin blue stripe, thin white strip, thick blue stripe, thinck white stripe, thick red stripe, thick white stripe, thick blue stripe, thin white strip, thin blue stripe. A purple military ribbon with a thick white line at each end A multicolored military ribbon. From left to right the color pattern is; very thick blue stripe, thick white stripe, thin green stripe, thick white stripe, very thick green stripe, thick white stripe, thin green stripe, thick white stripe, very thick blue stripe
A green military ribbon with a thick white stripe near each end of the ribbon A multicolored military ribbon. From left to right the color pattern is; very thick blue stripe, very thick yellow stripe, thin red stripe, thicn white stripe, thin blue stripe, very thick yellow stripe, very thick red stripe A multicolored military ribbon. From left to right the color pattern is; very thick red stripe, thin white stripe, thin blue stripe, thin white stripe, thin red stripe, very thick gold stripe, thin red stripe, thin white stripe, thin blue stripe, thin white stripe, very thick red stripe.
Bronze star
A multicolored military ribbon. From left to right the color pattern is; thin green stripe, thick red stripe, black stripe, very thick white stripe, thin red stripe, thin white stripe, thin black stripe, think white stripe, thin red stripe, very thick white stripe, black stripe, thick red stripe, think green stripe.
A dark blue military ribbon with three thin green stripes. One stripe is in the center of the ribbon and the other two are at near the edge of the ribbon. The is a large silver E centered in the ribbon. A dark blue military ribbon with 2 think green lines, one at each end of the ribbon with a large silver E centered on the ribbon.
A gold image of a parachute with wings.
SEAL Insignia[1][n 1]
1st row Medal of Honor
2nd row Silver Star Purple Heart Medal Joint Service Commendation Medal
3rd row Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal Combat Action Ribbon National Defense Service Medal
4th row Afghanistan Campaign Medal
w/ 1 service star
Navy Rifle Marksmanship Medal
w/ expert device
Navy Pistol Marksmanship Medal
w/ expert device
Navy and Marine Corps Parachutist Insignia

Medal of Honor

On October 11, 2007 The White House announced Murphy would be presented the Medal of Honor, awarded posthumously, during a ceremony at the White House on October 22, 2007.[15]

The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government and is bestowed on a member of the armed forces who distinguishes himself "... conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States ..." Due to the nature of the award, it is commonly presented posthumously.[16]

A color image of Murphy's parents standing next to President George Bush in front of an American flag. They are holding Murphy's Medal of Honor in a display case and are looking down at it.

The parents of LT Murphy receive his medal from President Bush.

On October 22, 2007 the Medal of Honor presentation ceremony was held at the White House. President George W. Bush presented Murphy's Medal of Honor to his parents.[15]


MOH right.gif

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, Kunar 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.[17]

Other honors

In addition to the Medal of Honor, his military awards and his inscription on the Hall of Heroes in the Pentagon,[15] Murphy has received several other honors.

Michael P. Murphy Memorial

Penn State class of 2011 senior gift was a memorial named after LT Michael P. Murphy to commemorate all veterans who served the United States

Michael P. Murphy Memorial Park

On May 7, 2006, on what would have been his 30th birthday, Murphy’s hometown dedicated the Michael P. Murphy Memorial Park; formerly Lake Tahoma Park. The park contains a black granite wall dedicated to the men lost in Operation Red Wings, with each member’s name inscribed. A black granite stone embedded in the plaza bears the picture of Murphy and his Medal of Honor.[18]

Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy United States Post Office

A color picture of Daniel and Maureen Murphy standing next to a monument in front of the Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy Post Office in Patchogue, New York. The monument has a purple heart and some wording inscribed on it and there are two men in the background.

Daniel and Maureen Murphy stand next to a monument in front of the Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy Post Office in Patchogue, New York.

On May 7, 2007, the Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy United States Post Office was dedicated in Patchogue, New York. The request to rename the historic United States Postal Office located at 170 East Main Street in Patchogue, New York, was submitted as bill H.R. 4101 to the 109th Congress. On January 3, 2006, the 109th Congress approved the request and on August 1, 2006, it was signed by President George W. Bush and became Public Law No: 109-256.[19][20]

"The facility of the United States Postal Service located at 170 East Main Street in Patchogue, New York, shall be known and designated as the 'Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy Post Office Building'."[20]

USS Michael Murphy (DDG-112)

On May 7, 2008, Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter announced that DDG-112, the last planned U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class destroyer at the time, would be named USS Michael Murphy (DDG-112) in honor of Murphy.[14] On May 7, 2011, on what would have been Murphy's 35th birthday, the USS Michael Murphy was christened by his mother Maureen Murphy, the ship's sponsor.[21]

Lt. Michael P. Murphy Combat Training Pool

Guests tour the new LT Michael Murphy Combat Training Pool during a dedication ceremony at Officer Training Command, Newport. The pool will be used by officer candidates and students at Officer Training Command Newport for swim qualifications.

Guests tour the new Lt. Michael Murphy Combat Training Pool during a dedication ceremony at Officer Training Command, Newport. The pool will be used by officer candidates and students at Officer Training Command Newport for swim qualifications.

On July 9, 2009, the newly constructed Combat Training Pool at the Naval Station Newport, Rhode Island was dedicated in honor of Murphy. The pool is an L-shaped, 8-lane pool which holds approximately 347,000 gallons of chlorinated water. The training pool also has a training platform three meters above the water which is used for military training, abandon ship drills, etc.[22]

Lt. Michael P. Murphy Award in Geospatial Intelligence

The 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. The award was made possible by the gracious gifts of GeoEye and the US Geospatial Intelligence Foundation. This award is endowed to be given in Murphy’s name in perpetuity.[23]

Lt. Michael P. Murphy/Penn State Veterans Plaza

On November 2, 2010, it was announced the senior gift for the Pennsylvania State University (Murphy's alma mater) Class of 2011 will be the Lt. Michael P. Murphy/Penn State Veterans Plaza. The plaza will honor all Penn State veterans and Penn State's only Medal of Honor recipient, Murphy.[24]

Long Island Medal of Honor Recipients Memorial Plaque

The United States Veterans Hospital at Northport Long Island New York maintains a memorial plaque that names all of the Medal of Honor recipients who have lived in Long Island. Lt. Murphy's name was placed in honor on this memorial shortly after he was award the Medal of Honor. Other honored included President Theodore Roosevelt, General Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., and Murphy’s fellow Eastern Long Island hero Garfield Langhorn. The Memorial, which is at the back end of the hospital lobby, is directly outside the workstation of Lt. Murphy’s mother Maureen, where she counsels military veterans daily on their eligibility for benefits resulting from their service.

CrossFit Workout

Lt. Murphy was an avid adherent to CrossFit, and after his death one of his favorite workouts was named after him. The workout, which he referred to as 'Body Armor,' is now called 'Murph.' While wearing a 20# weighted vest (substitute for body armor), it is a one-mile run followed by 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups and 300 squats, followed by another mile; done for time.[25]

This workout is performed at thousands of CrossFit gyms around the world on Memorial Day, usually as a fund-raiser for military charities.

Sea Cadet unit

There is a United States Naval Sea Cadet unit named the "LT Michael P. Murphy Division" based in the town of West Sayville in Long Island, NY.

See also

List of post-Vietnam Medal of Honor recipients


  1. Applies to all awards listed in the table.


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 "LT MICHAEL P. MURPHY USN". United States Navy. October 2007. Retrieved July 9, 2009-. 
  2. Williams, Gary (2010). SEAL of Honor. Naval Institute Press. pp. 220. ISBN 978-1-59114-965-1. 
  3. Brown, Derek (September 27, 2001). "Attack and Aftermath: a glossary of terms,". London: Guardian Unlimited.,,559312,00.html. Retrieved May 12, 2010. 
  4. Copter Downed by Taliban Fire; Elite U.S. Unit Among Dead
  5. Worst US loss of life in Afghan war as helicopter crash kills 38
  6. Blumenfeld, Laura (June 11, 2007). "The Sole Survivor – A Navy Seal, Injured and Alone, Was Saved By Afghans' Embrace and Comrades' Valor". Washington Post. p. A01. Retrieved March 10, 2010. 
  7. Luttrell, Marcus (2008). Lone Survivor. Little, Brown and Company. 
  8. Bahmanyar, Mir & Chris Osman. Seals: The US Navy's Elite Fighting Force (October 21, 2008 ed.). Osprey Publishing. pp. 145–146. ISBN 1-84603-226-1. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 Naylor, Sean D. (June 18, 2007). "Surviving SEAL tells story of deadly mission". Army Times. Retrieved July 21, 2008. 
  10. Matt Dupee (April 17, 2008). "Bara bin Malek Front commander killed in Pakistani shootout". long war journal. Retrieved December 10, 2008. 
  11. West, Diane (August 17, 2007). "Death by rules of engagement". Retrieved March 10, 2010. 
  12. "Hall of Valor". Matthew Axelson. Military Times. Retrieved August 6, 2009. 
  13. "Michael P. Murphy". Claim to Fame: Medal of Honor recipients. Find a Grave. Retrieved October 23, 2007. 
  14. 14.0 14.1 "SECNAV Names New Guided-Missile Destroyer USS Michael Murphy". United States Navy. May 7, 2008. Retrieved July 13, 2009. 
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 The White House (October 22, 2007). "President Bush Presents Medal of Honor to Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy, U.S. Navy". Office of the Press Secretary, The White House. Retrieved October 23, 2007. 
  16. "Defense link Medal of Honor history". U.S. Department of Defense. Retrieved March 10, 2010. 
  17. "Medal of Honor citation". United States Navy. Retrieved October 22, 2007. 
  18. "TOWN PARK RENAMED IN HONOR OF FALLEN HERO". Brookhaven City Counsel Website. May 12, 2006. Retrieved July 13, 2009. 
  19. Lykins, Lt. Lesley (May 9, 2008). "Patchogue Citizens Remember Lt. Michael Murphy". United States Navy. Retrieved July 31, 2009. 
  20. 20.0 20.1 Bishop, Timothy H., Congressman, New York (October 20, 2005). "H. R. 4101". 109th CONGRESS. Retrieved August 8, 2009. 
  21. "Fallen Navy SEAL honored with warship". Associated Press. May 7, 2011. Archived from the original on May 10, 2011. Retrieved May 7, 2011. [dead link]
  22. Thornbloom, Scott A. (July 17, 2009). "Newport Combat Training Pool Dedicated to MOH Recipient". Naval Service Training Command Public Affairs Office. Retrieved March 24, 2010. 
  23. "Award Honors Hero’s Memory," GEOINT 2010 Symposium ShowDaily, Nov 3, 2010 PDF
  24. [1]
  25. [2]

Further reading

  • Luttrell, Marcus (2007). Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10. Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 0-316-06759-8. 
  • Williams, Gary (2011). Seal of Honor: Operation Red Wings and the Life of Lt. Michael P. Murphy, USN. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-59114-965-7. 

External links

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