The Life of Lieutenant Michael P Murphy

Not everyone is born a warrior. It takes a lot of commitment and courage to look death in the eyes on a daily basis like combat troops in the military do. Most importantly, it takes a special breed of human being to die for that they believe in. Michael P. Murphy has exemplified all the above. Perished Navy SEAL, Michael P. Murphy is a man of honor, courage and commitment. His selfless acts had save the life’s of his teammates in combat. He is a true national hero that has bled red, white, and blue.

They say heroes are born not made. Lieutenant Murphy, born on May 7th, 1976 in Smithtown, New York, is a perfect example of a born hero. Even as a child, it was very obvious that Michael was an individual that displayed many great physical and mental qualities. Garry Williams, author of SEAL of Honor called Michael’s traits the, “Seeds of Greatness.” Michael was a very curious and adventurous child. He was always getting in to things, much to the dislike of his mother. Before Michael was even two years old, he jumped into a swimming pool. His mother ran over and saw him underwater with a huge smile on his face. While his mother, Maureen, was telling him that he was not allowed in the water without a life jacket, he did it again, safely swimming to the side with a huge grin on his face (Williams 33). Because of Michael’s lack of fear, he and his parents made frequent trips to the emergency room for stitches. In SEAL of Honor, written by Gary Williams, Williams notes that during one particular emergency room trip, Michael’s dad, Dan, said, “Thank God I was a prosecutor, because I am sure otherwise they would have thought this kid was being abused.”

Along with his courage and fearlessness, traits commonly held in high regards amongst seals, Michael also was very selfless and willing to help others. He commonly played the “protector” role (Williams 39). When Michael was ten years old, his younger brother John would enter the world. Although many kids may feel jealousy towards a new child in the house, Michael was a polar opposite. He was extremely happy when John arrived and immediately became protective over him, commonly helping him out and being there for him at all times. However, this protective attitude and instinct was not limited to kin. Michael was always helping kids that were being bullied, helping animals, and putting people at ease in stressful situations. The desire to live a life of serving and helping others allowed Michael to thrive in some of the toughest military training in the world.

The above traits would prove to be a very important factor in Michael’s military training and career. SEAL training puts extreme physical demands on the body. But more importantly, SEAL training tests mental strength. The real question at SEAL training is, “How bad do you want it?” Hundreds of star athletes that shine with physical dominance drop out within a few days of SEAL training. Michael was a great athlete, but most importantly he had a mental edge that came naturally to him. Michael did not want to become a Navy SEAL because it’s a “badass job,” Michael wanted to become a Navy SEAL because he felt like it was his duty to protect and defend the United States. He wanted to make sacrifices that not many could not make, and he wanted to go above and beyond the call of duty. As a New York resident, the terrorist attacks really hit home. So much in fact that Michael would wear a New York City Fire Department patch on his uniform in times of combat. In Michael’s eyes, many great men died on that day, and he wanted revenge.

After high school, Michael decided that he would attend college at Pennsylvania State University. He would graduate with honors with two degrees in political science and psychology. Michael’s father had always wanted him to pursue a lucrative degree in law, and after getting accepted to several prestigious law schools, Michael was well on his way. However, Michael had other plans; despite his skeptical parents. Michael had decided to apply to Navy Officer Candidate School, and unsurprisingly, he was accepted. After the completion of Officer Candidate School, Michael’s journey to become a part of America’s most highly trained military unit began.

Michael began his SEAL-hopeful journey with Basic Under Water Demolition School – Class 236 in January of 2001. During this training, SEAL-hopefuls are under maximum physical and mental stress. Michael still thrived in this environment. Day in and day out, the training men were pushed to their limits. Average days involved hundreds and hundreds of pushups, sit-ups, and various other bodyweight exercises, made more difficult and miserable by the freezing cold Pacific waters and gritty sand of Coronado California, home of Navy Special Warfare. SEAL trainees were constantly told by their instructors to get, “wet and sandy!” After being told this, the trainee was required to run to the freezing surf, dive in, and roll around in the sand. Trainees were constantly kept cold and uncomfortable.

Despite all this physical and mental stress, Michael Murphy succeeded and graduated from Basic Under Water Demolition School. After graduation, Michael attended Army jump school, SEAL Qualification Training, and SEAL Delivery Vehicle School. Upon completion of those courses, Michael earned the Trident, the mark and badge of a United States Navy SEAL. The Trident is highly sought after by many, but earned by few. Michael had officially joined the SEAL Teams.

Upon becoming a U.S Navy SEAL, Michael was quickly deployed to various and often times confidential locations. He deployed multiple times to Iraq and Afghanistan in his SEAL career as an assistant officer in charge. The SEALs were always on call and always conducting missions. Unfortunately, Michael would give his life on June 28, 2005 in support of a mission designated as, “Operation Red Wings.”

Operation Red Wings was an operation that was to be completed by a four-man reconnaissance SEAL Team. Michael, along with fellow SEALs Danny Dietz, Marcus Luttrell, and Matthew Axelson were the Seals assigned to complete this operation. The objective of the operation involved scoping out and eliminating a high-value Taliban leader. On the night of June 28, 2005, the above SEALs fast roped out of a Chinook helicopter, and the operation was in full effect (Luttrell).

The operation began with a lot of slow tedious maneuvering through rocky, mountainous terrain. Hours into the mission, after finding a place to sit back and scope out, the SEAL team was discovered by a group of goat herders. After debating whether or not they should kill the goat herders to save the mission, or to spare them, morals led the men to release the herders. The herders departed, and the SEAL Team remained silently in their hidden positions.

Time continued to pass when suddenly the silence was abruptly broken by a, “Psst” sound commonly made by Michael when he wanted to catch his team’s attention. Marcus Luttrell, author of Lone Survivor, looked up the hill after hearing this, and noted an exponentially larger force. The objective and their lives had been compromised. The SEALs remained hidden and silent when Luttrell noticed an insurgent that looked as if he may have him in his sights. Luttrell took his head off, causing all hell to break loose on the mountain. Marcus Luttrell described the gun and rocket propelled grenade fire as rain.

After a long hard fight, and the deaths of many insurgents, Danny Dietz and Matt Axelson had been wounded by gunfire. Noticing the casualties that his team had taken, Michael had decisions to make. He could hunker down with his unhealthy team and try to defeat a still much larger force, or he could attempt to call in for much needed help. At this moment, Michael did the unthinkable. Knowing that his phone would not get service under cover, Michael moved into a position, under gun fire and facing almost certain death to call help for his team. Luttrell notes in Lone Survivor, that Michael was shot through the back while on the phone. After being shot, Michael still managed to say, “Thank You” to the person he was communicating with, picked up his rifle, and continued to fight until he was mortally wounded. Along with Michael, Matt Axelson and Danny Dietz had been mortally wounded, leaving Marcus Luttrell as the only SEAL living on the mountain with enemies still surrounding the area.

Michael’s heroic actions on the mountain that day had saved the life of Marcus Luttrell. For his outstanding duty in support of the United States of America’s objectives, Michael had been awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest honor and award for valor in combat. He was the fourth Navy SEAL to earn the medal and the first to receive it from acts of valor in the war in Afghanistan. Michael was known to be one of the best SEAL officers that many SEALs have ever seen. Luttrell said, “Mikey was the best officer I ever knew, an iron-souled warrior of colossal and almost unbelievable courage in the face of the enemy.”

Michael is now buried at Calverton National Cemetery in Suffolk County, New York. He is remembered by his mother Maureen, father Dan, and brother John. His death will forever be remembered in the Naval Special Warfare Community, as he will always be known as one of the finest Navy SEALs and warriors to put boots on the battlefield. For those he loved, he sacrificed, and for that, we thank him.

Michael’s legacy is lived on by many. It is very safe to say that Michael has led an exemplary military career as a leader and special operations operator. Those that are in the military or plan on joining should look up to Michael Murphy and strive to be like him. Paper pusher, conventional warrior, or special operator, Michael displays traits that will lead others to success if taken in. If Michael was still alive, he would tell others to be all that they could be. Put family, country, and possibly religion first and look at life as if the sky is the limit, because it is. As our military and country moves forward, we need more brave men and women to take Michael’s place and further improve our military units. Michael has done a fantastic job as an officer and SEAL role model, and we are blessed to have men like him pave the way to greatness for us. “What is the point of being alive if you don’t at least try to do something remarkable?” – John Green

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