Navy SEAL to be awarded Medal of Honor


Story Number: NNS071011-08Release Date: 10/11/2007 3:19:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Michelle L. Kapica, Naval Special Warfare Command Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The White House announced Oct. 11 that the family of U.S. Navy SEAL, Lt. Michael P. Murphy will be presented the Medal of Honor, awarded posthumously, during a ceremony at the White House Oct. 22.

The Medal of Honor is the nation's highest military award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States.

Murphy's father, Daniel, will accept the award on behalf of his son. Murphy will receive the award for his extraordinary, selfless heroism and steadfast courage while leading a four-man, special reconnaissance mission deep behind enemy lines east of Asadabad in the Hindu Kush of Afghanistan June 27 to 28, 2005.

"We are thrilled by the President's announcement today, especially because there is now a public recognition of what we knew all along about Michael's loyalty, devotion and sacrifice to his friends, family, country, and especially his SEAL teammates," the Murphy family said in a statement. "The honor is not just about Michael, it is about his teammates and those who lost their lives that same day."

Murphy was the officer-in-charge of the SEAL element, which was tasked with locating a high- level Taliban militia leader to provide intelligence for a follow-on mission to capture or destroy the local leadership and disrupt enemy activity. However local Taliban sympathizers discovered the SEAL unit and immediately revealed their position to Taliban fighters. The element was besieged on a mountaintop by scores of enemy fighters. The firefight that ensued pushed the element farther into enemy territory and left all four SEALs wounded.

The SEALs fought the enemy fearlessly despite being at a tactical disadvantage and outnumbered more than four to one. Understanding the gravity of the situation and his responsibility to his men, Murphy, already wounded, deliberately and unhesitatingly moved from cover into the open where he took and returned fire while transmitting a call for help for his beleaguered teammates. Shot through the back while radioing for help, Murphy completed his transmission while returning fire. The call ultimately led to the rescue of one severely wounded team member, Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Marcus Luttrell, and the recovery of the remains of Murphy and Gunner's Mate 2nd Class (SEAL) Danny Dietz and Sonar Technician 2nd Class (SEAL) Matthew Axelson.

Eight more SEALs and eight Army "Nightstalker" special operations personnel comprising the initial reinforcement also lost their lives when their helicopter was shot down before they could engage the enemy. The entire battle, the culmination of Operation Redwing, resulted in the worst single day loss of life for Naval Special Warfare personnel since World War II.
The sole surviving SEAL, Marcus Luttrell, wrote a book about the battle after he departed the Navy this summer. In his book Luttrell credited all three of his teammates for their heroism, including Murphy's sacrificial act that eventually led to his rescue.

Murphy will be inducted into the Hall of Heroes at the Pentagon during a ceremony scheduled Oct. 23. His name will be engraved beside the names of some 3,400 other service members who have also been awarded the nation's highest honor.

Awarded by the President in the name of Congress, the Medal of Honor was created in 1861 as personal award of valor for members of the Navy. Soon thereafter another version was created for the Army and ultimately the Medal of Honor was presented to more than 1,500 Civil War veterans. Later the Air Force created its own unique Medal of Honor design. Marines and Coast Guardsmen are awarded the Navy's version of the Medal of Honor.

For more information on Naval Special Warfare, visit www.seal.navy.mil .

For more information on Lt. Michael P. Murphy, visit www.navy.mil/moh/mpmurphy/index.html .

For more news from Naval Special Warfare, visit www.navy.mil/local/nsw/.

 
RELATED PHOTOS
Navy file photo of SEAL Lt. Michael P. Murphy, from Patchogue, N.Y., and Sonar Technician (Surface) 2nd Class Matthew G. Axelson, of Cupertino, Calif., taken in Afghanistan.
071001-N-0000X-001 Navy file photo of SEAL Lt. Michael P. Murphy, from Patchogue, N.Y. Murphy was killed by enemy forces during a reconnaissance mission, Operation Red Wing, June 28, 2005, while leading a four-man team tasked with finding a key Taliban leader in the mountainous terrain near Asadabad, Afghanistan. The team came under fire from a much larger enemy force with superior tactical position. Murphy knowingly left his position of cover to get a clear signal in order to communicate with his headquarters and was mortally wounded while exposing himself to enemy fire. While being shot and shot at, Murphy provided his units location and requested immediate support for his element. He returned to his cover position to continue the fight until finally succumbing to his wounds. U.S. Navy photo (RELEASED)
October 11, 2007
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