COURTESY U.S. NAVY
Lt. Michael Murphy, killed in Afghanistan in 2005, will be awarded the Medal of Honor.
Pearl SEAL’s valor merits Medal of Honor
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A Pearl Harbor-based Navy SEAL who gave up his life to help reconnaissance team members in a 2005 firefight will become the first serviceman to receive the Medal of Honor for combat in Afghanistan.
On Oct. 22, President Bush will award the top medal to Lt. Michael P. Murphy posthumously.
On June 28, 2005, the 29-year-old was killed when he went to an exposed position to call in reinforcements when his four-man team was in a gunbattle with a larger Taliban force east of Asadabad.
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U.S. Navy SEAL Lt. Michael P. Murphy, 29, of Patchogue, N.Y., will be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
Pearl Harbor-based Navy SEAL Lt. Michael P. Murphy will be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, becoming the first recipient of that honor for combat in Afghanistan, President Bush announced yesterday.
On June 28, 2005, the 29-year-old officer was in charge of a four-man team on a special reconnaissance mission deep behind enemy lines east of Asadabad when the unit came under attack. Murphy risked his life to save his teammates during the gunbattle against a much larger enemy force.
He kept fighting even after he was shot in the back, fellows SEALs recalled.
"Mikey was ignoring his wound and fighting like a SEAL officer should, uncompromising, steady, hard-eyed and professional," recalled Petty Officer 2nd Class Marcus Luttrell in his book, "Lone Survivor," quoted in Navy Times.
Bush will present the Medal of Honor, the highest military award for valor in action against any enemy force, to the parents of Murphy, a native of Patchogue, N.Y., on Long Island.
Murphy becomes the first Navy service member to receive that distinction for actions in the war on terrorism.
He is the third armed forces service member to receive the medal since the beginning of Operations Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) and Iraqi Freedom. Murphy is also the fourth Navy SEAL in history to earn this award, and the first since Vietnam.
The Navy says Murphy "unhesitatingly and with complete disregard for his own life" tried to make contact with headquarters by moving into the open to call for help.
Murphy exposed himself to enemy gunfire but calmly called for help while being fired on.
The Chinook helicopter with eight SEALs and eight Army Night Stalkers sent to rescue them was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, killing all 16 men on board.
The four SEALs continued fighting in what was a two-hour gunfight, leaving Murphy and Petty Officers 2nd Class Danny Dietz and Matthew Axelson dead. The sole survivor was Luttrell, a corpsman who was blasted over a ridge by a rocket-propelled grenade and knocked unconscious.
In his book, Luttrell recalled that Murphy "walked until he was more or less in the center, gunfire all around him and he sat on a small rock and began punching in the numbers to HQ." During the call he saw Murphy take "a bullet straight in the back. I saw the blood spurt from his chest. He slumped forward, dropping his phone and his rifle. But then he braced himself, grabbed them both, sat upright again, and once more put the phone to his ear.
"He'd understood we had only one chance, and that was to call for help," he wrote.
After nearly a day, local nationals rescued Luttrell.
Lt. Sean Chittick described Murphy as a "fiery Irishman" and "quintessential hockey player who was as hard as nails, quick on his feet and relentless in everything he did."
Murphy also excelled in academics, graduating with honors from Pennsylvania State University with Bachelor of Arts degrees in political science and psychology. An avid reader, Murphy enjoyed everything from Greek historian Herodotus to Tolstoy's "War and Peace," friends said.
Although he was accepted into several law schools, Murphy chose instead to attend SEAL mentoring sessions, and in 2000 was appointed to the Navy's Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Fla.
After earning his SEAL Trident, Murphy was stationed in July 2002 in Hawaii with SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 1 at Pearl Harbor, and was deployed to Jordan. Following that tour, he was assigned to Special Operations Central Command in Florida and was deployed to Qatar, then to Djibouti.
In 2005 he once again was stationed at Pearl Harbor with SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 1, and was deployed to Afghanistan.
Murphy was also awarded the Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Ribbon and National Defense Service Medal.