GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
A proposal by City Councilman Charles Dijou would rename Makalapa Neighborhood Park after Lt. Michael Murphy, a Navy SEAL who was killed in Afghanistan in 2005. Murphy was stationed at Pearl Harbor.
To honor a hero
Plan would rename park for Navy SEAL
A tiny city park tucked away near a state public housing project close to Aloha Stadium could bear the name of a Pearl Harbor SEAL who was awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism in Afghanistan three years ago.
City Councilman Charles Djou, an Army Reserve lawyer, wants to dedicate the 6-acre Makalapa Neighborhood Park on Memorial Day in honor of Lt. Michael "Murph" Murphy, who was killed in 2005 while leading Operation Red Wing in Afghanistan's Hindu Kush mountains.
Chad Buck, spokesman for SEAL Naval Special Warfare Foundation-Hawaii, was unaware of the details of Djou's idea.
"We're touched," said Buck, whose fledging organization just raised $100,000 last month to support the Navy's special warfare operators and their families. Attending the fundraising dinner held on the battleship USS Missouri were members of Murphy's family.
"I think it's awesome," Buck said.
Navy SEALs are almost always the tip of the spear for military special operations around the world, Buck added. "This proposal from Councilman Djou honors the life of a special warfare operator who sacrificed his life for his teammates and our country. Our foundation is grateful for the recognition and efforts of Councilman Djou and the Honolulu City Council."
Djou said he and fellow City Councilman Romy Cachola chose the Makalapa park because it is the closest city facility to Pearl Harbor -- Murphy's last duty station.
"He lived in Hawaii and was stationed at Pearl Harbor before he was deployed to Afghanistan," Djou added.
The park, at 99-104 Kalaloa St., consists of picnic area, two basketball courts, two volleyball courts, two softball fields and a comfort station.
Djou said he hopes to have his resolution before the City Council next month and adopted by the nine-member body by May 26, Memorial Day.
Murphy was awarded the country's highest medal for valor posthumously in June. He was the first sailor to receive the Medal of Honor from the war in Afghanistan.
Murphy, of Patchogue, N.Y., and Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew G. Axelson, 29, from Cupertino, Calif., were killed in a fierce firefight with anti-coalition forces in the mountains of Afghanistan. They were both members of Pearl Harbor's SEAL Delivery Team 1.
On June 28, 2005, Murphy, 29, was in charge of a four-man SEAL team whose mission was to search for a terrorist. The team was spotted shortly after being inserted into the 10,000-foot-high Hindu Kush.
The fierce firefight and Murphy's heroism are described in a book -- "Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10" -- written by hospital corpsman Marcus Luttrell, who survived the battle. Five sailors were from Pearl Harbor's SEAL Team 1, while five others were from SEAL Team 10, based in Virginia Beach, Va.
Pinned down by a much larger enemy force, the SEALs -- all of them wounded -- were running out of ammunition.
The high walls of the ravine blocked all communication.
At that point, a Navy report said, Murphy moved into the open and "calmly provided his unit's location and the size of the enemy force while requesting immediate support for his team."
Murphy exposed himself to enemy fire while trying to keep his team together and was shot twice in the back, Luttrell said.
A CH-47 Chinook helicopter responding to the call was downed while trying to reach the SEALs, killing eight more SEALs and eight members of an Army special operations unit.
Three other Pearl Harbor SEALs -- Senior Chief Petty Officer Daniel Healy of Exeter, N.H.; Petty Officer 2nd Class James Suh of Deerfield Beach, Fla.; and Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric Shane Patton of Boulder City, Nev. -- were among the 16 troops killed when the helicopter was shot down.