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History and Heritage

From Murph: The Protector to USS Michael Murphy: The Destroyer

A decade later, we still remember

"We had positioned ourselves in an area where we thought no one was going to walk on top of us," said Petty Officer Marcus Luttrell, as he describes Operation Red Wings, which took place June 28, 2005 and killed three of his teammates including Lt. Michael Murphy. "And sure enough, about two hours later, they did."

Luttrell and his team believed goat herders, who they had turned loose earlier in the day, tipped off the Taliban as to their location.

"The place we were at was so desolate; it was the end of the cliff. There wasn't anything else out there. It was a drop off on three sides and there was only one way in and one way out. After we turned them loose, they high tailed it out of there ... out of our sight. We relocated, and then an hour later that militia showed up ... and they were looking for us."

Murphy knew outside help was needed, so he took action.

"We were about an hour into the gun fight, and we had been pushed down the back side of the mountain. The Taliban had the high ground on us and they had completely encircled us, 360 degrees, so no matter where we were hiding in there, we were getting hit. The only way you could prevent yourself from getting shot was to keep moving. We were using each side of the mountain for cover."

At this point, one of the four, Petty Officer Danny Dietz, had already lost his life, and another, Petty Officer Matthew G. Axelson, had been shot pretty bad. Murphy had also been shot quite a few times.

"We were in a straight line down the mountain. I look back up the mountain and Mikey had pushed out to the middle of the draw, we call it the fatal falling, you don't want to be in an area like that, that's the only place he could go to get coverage for the phone. Sure enough he dialed it up ... made that phone call ... and took two more rounds. It actually dropped him. He stood back up, finished the phone call, grabbed his rifle ... and moved back."

By the time the smoke cleared, all men, with the exception of Luttrell, had been killed by enemy forces.
Navy Photo


For his actions, Murphy was awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor and is the first SEAL to have a ship named after him.

"The ship was named after Murphy, not only for that act, which was incredible and for which he earned the Medal of Honor - the only naval officer to win the Medal of Honor since Vietnam - but basically because that act reflected who Michael Murphy was," said Cmdr. Todd Hutchison, commanding officer, USS Michael Murphy. "He lived a life of courage and incredible character and so the ship is named, not only after that one act, but about who Michael Murphy was his whole life."

The USS Michael Murphy is an Arleigh Burke Class destroyer and what's known as a multi-mission destroyer. It means that she is equally capable of executing surface, air and subsurface missions, and the crew is trained to be able to execute all of those simultaneously.

"... The legacy that we strive [for] every day ... would be best summed up in ... four words - Sacrifice, courage, integrity and humility," said Hutchison. "Every day it's a humbling experience for me to have the privilege of leading these Sailors ... they completely inspire and motivated me, and seeing them come together as a team, and this crew, what they have done together; ... and especially on deployment how they've coalesced into such an amazing group and executed every mission we've been tasked on deployment with pride and professionalism, it's truly the greatest privilege of my almost 20-year career."

"It's an absolute honor and a privilege to be the sponsor of the ship, especially because it is named after my Michael," said Maureen Murphy, Michael's mother. "I've been with the crew quite a number of times and I think Michael would really be proud of all of them because they have a lot of the characteristics that Michael had. He was a humble person, but because of what it means to everybody in the crew, myself and the captain, he would be really pleased, he would be honored that a ship was named after him."
Navy Photo



Navy Photo