Navy SEAL Was An Officer And A Gentleman Right To The End




 
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Navy SEAL Was An Officer And A Gentleman Right To The End
 
April 16th, 2007  
Team Infidel
 
 

Topic: Navy SEAL Was An Officer And A Gentleman Right To The End


Navy SEAL Was An Officer And A Gentleman Right To The End
New York Daily News
April 16, 2007
By Patrice O'Shaughnessy, Daily News Staff Writer
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 *****, 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."
 


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