Engaged in a fierce firefight and outnumbered by the Taliban, Navy Lt. Michael Murphy made a desperate decision as he and three fellow SEALs fought for their lives on a rocky mountainside in Afghanistan's Kunar Province in 2005. In a last-ditch effort to save his team, Murphy pulled out his satellite phone, walked into a clearing to get reception and called for reinforcements as a fusillade of bullets ricocheted around him. One of the bullets hit him, but he finished the call and even signed off, "Thank you." Then he continued the battle.
A warship bearing the name of the Medal of Honor recipient was christened on Saturday, May 7, 2011 (this would have been Murphy's 35th birthday) at Bath Iron Works, Maine, where the destroyer is being built.
Murphy, who was 29 when he died, graduated from Patchogue-Medford HS, and then Pennsylvania State University and was accepted to multiple law schools, but decided he could do more for his country as one of the Navy's elite SEALS - special forces trained to fight on sea, air and land - the same forces that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.
Murphy's mother, Maureen, will christen the ship by smashing a bottle of champagne against the bow of the 510-foot-long warship as Murphy's father, brother and others watch.
On June 28, 2005, the day he was killed, Murphy was leading a SEAL team in northeastern Afghanistan looking for the commander of a group of insurgents known as the Mountain Tigers.
The Operation Red Wings reconnaissance team rappelled down from a helicopter at night and climbed through rain to a spot 10,000 feet high overlooking a village to keep a lookout. But the mission was compromised the following morning when three local goat herders happened upon their hiding spot. High in the Hindu Kush Mountains, Murphy and other members of his team held a tense discussion of the rules of engagement and the fate of the three goat herders, who were being held at gunpoint. If they were Taliban sympathizers, then letting the herders go would allow them to alert the Taliban forces lurking in the area; killing them might ensure the team's safety, but there were issues of possible military charges and a media backlash, according to the lone survivor.
Murphy, who favored letting the goat herders go, guided a discussion of military, political, safety and moral implications. A majority agreed with him. Murphy was shot in the stomach early in the firefight, but ignored the wound and continued to lead the team, which killed dozens of Taliban attackers. The injuries continued to mount as the SEALs were forced to scramble, slide and tumble down the mountain in the face of the onslaught.
Three of the team members had been shot at least once when Murphy decided drastic action was needed to save the team, Luttrell wrote. With the team's radio out of commission, Murphy exposed himself to enemy gunfire by stepping into a clearing with a satellite phone to make a call to Bagram Airfield to relay the dire situation. He dropped the phone after being shot, then picked it up to complete the phone call with four words: "Roger that, thank you."
By the end of the two-hour firefight, Murphy, and 2 other SEALs were dead. The tragedy was compounded when 16 rescuers - eight additional SEALs and eight members of the Army's elite "Night Stalkers" - were killed when their MH-47 Chinook helicopter was shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade.
It was the largest single-day loss in naval special warfare history. All told, 33 SEALS have been killed in action since the Sept. 11 attacks, officials say.
The entire P-M community shares the pride of the Murphy family in the heroic acts of Navy Seal Michael Murphy and this honor in having a warship named for him.