SEAL Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy
(KIA on June 28, 2005 in Afghanistan)
Medal of Honor
to the Family
SEAL Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy
President George W. Bush
(White House ...
October 22, 2007)
|"Good afternoon, and
welcome to the White House. The Medal of Honor is the highest
military decoration that a President can bestow. It recognizes
gallantry that goes above and beyond the call of duty in the face of
an enemy attack. The tradition of awarding this honor began during
the Civil War. And many of those who have received the medal have
given their lives in the action that earned it.
Today, we add Lieutenant Michael Murphy's name
to the list of recipients who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
Deep in the mountains of Afghanistan, this brave officer gave
his life in defense of his fellow Navy SEALs. Two years later,
the story of his sacrifice humbles and inspires all who hear it.
And by presenting Michael Murphy's family with the Medal of
Honor that he earned, a grateful nation remembers the courage of
this proud Navy SEAL.
I welcome the Vice President; Senator Ted Stevens; Senator Chuck
Schumer, from Lieutenant Murphy's home state. I appreciate very
much the fact that Congressman Tim Bishop, from Lieutenant
Murphy's district, is with us today. Welcome. Thank you all for
I appreciate the fact
that Deputy Secretary Gordon England has joined us; Secretary
Pete Geren of the Army; Secretary Don Winter of the Navy;
Secretary Mike Wynne of the Air Force; Admiral Mike Mullen,
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs; Admiral Gary Roughead, Chief of
Naval Operations; and all who wear the nation's uniform.
I appreciate the fact that we've got Barney Barnum, Tom Kelley,
Tommy Norris, and Mike Thornton, Medal of Honor recipients, with
We do welcome Dan Murphy and Maureen Murphy,
father and mother of Michael Murphy; John Murphy, his brother;
and other family members that are with us today.
It's my honor to welcome all the friends and comrades of
Lieutenant Michael Murphy to the White House. And I want to
thank Chaplain Bob Burt, Chief of Chaplains, for his opening
Looking back on his childhood in Patchogue, New York, you might
say that Michael Murphy was born to be a Navy SEAL. SEALs get
their name from operating by sea, air, and land -- and even as a
toddler, Michael could find his way through any obstacle. When
he was just 18 months old, he darted across a neighbor's yard,
and dove into the swimming pool. By the time his frantic parents
reached him, Michael had swum to the other side with a big smile
on his face. As he grew older, Michael learned to swim from one
side of a nearby lake to the other -- and he developed into a
talented all-around athlete.
President George W. Bush presents the Medal of Honor to Daniel and Maureen Murphy, the parents of Navy
SEAL Lt. Michael Murphy, during a ceremony at the White House. Lt. Murphy was killed during a reconnaissance mission near Asadabad, Afghanistan, while exposing himself to enemy fire in order to call in support after his four-man team came under attack by enemy forces June 28, 2005. Murphy is the first service member to receive the honor for actions during Operation Enduring Freedom and the first Navy recipient of the medal since Vietnam. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brien Aho
But beyond his
physical strength, Michael Murphy was blessed with a powerful
sense of right and wrong. This sense came from devoted parents
who taught him to love his neighbor -- and defend those who
could not defend themselves. Well, Michael took these lessons to
heart. One day in school, he got into a scuffle sticking up for
a student with a disability. It's the only time his parents ever
got a phone call from the principal -- and they couldn't have
been prouder. Michael's passion for helping others led him to
become a caring brother, a tutor, a lifeguard, and eventually, a
member of the United States Armed Forces.
Michael's decision to join the military wasn't an easy one for
his family. As a Purple Heart recipient during Vietnam,
Michael's father understood the sacrifices that accompany a life
of service. He also understood that his son was prepared to make
these sacrifices. After graduating from Penn State with honors,
Michael accepted a commission in the Navy -- and later, set off
for SEAL training. Fewer than a third of those who begin this
intense training program graduate to become Navy SEALs. Yet
there was little doubt about the determined lieutenant from New
York. And in 2002, Michael earned his Navy SEAL Trident.
Michael also earned the
respect of his men. They remember a wise-cracking friend who
went by "Mikey" or "Murph." They remember a patriot who wore a
New York City firehouse patch on his uniform in honor of the heroes of 9/11. And they remember an
officer who respected their opinions, and led them with an
understated, yet unmistakable, sense of command. Together,
Michael and his fellow SEALs deployed multiple times around
the world in the war against the extremists and radicals.
And while their missions were often carried out in secrecy,
their love of country and devotion to each other was always
On June 28th, 2005, Michael would give his life for these
ideals. While conducting surveillance on a mountain ridge in
Afghanistan, he and three fellow SEALs were surrounded by a
much larger enemy force. Their only escape was down the side
of a mountain -- and the SEALs launched a valiant
counterattack while cascading from cliff to cliff. But as
the enemy closed in, Michael recognized that the survival of
his men depended on calling back to the base for
With complete disregard for his own life, he
moved into a clearing where his phone would get reception.
He made the call, and Michael then fell under heavy fire.
Yet his grace and upbringing never deserted him. Though
severely wounded, he said "thank you" before hanging up, and
returned to the fight -- before losing his life.
Unfortunately, the helicopter carrying the
reinforcements never reached the scene. It crashed after
being struck by a rocket-propelled grenade. And in the end,
more Americans died in Afghanistan on June 28th, 2005 than
on any other day since the beginning of Operation Enduring
Freedom. This day of tragedy also has the sad distinction of
being the deadliest for Navy Special Warfare forces since
World War II.
of Michael's fellow SEALs did make it off the mountain ridge --
he was one of Michael's closest friends. Petty Officer Marcus
Luttrell of Texas, author of a riveting book called "Lone
Survivor," put it this way: "Mikey was the best officer I ever
knew, an iron-souled warrior of colossal and almost unbelievable
courage in the face of the enemy."
For his courage, we award Lieutenant Michael Murphy the first
Medal of Honor for combat in Afghanistan. And with this medal,
we acknowledge a debt that will not diminish with time -- and
can never be repaid.
Our nation is blessed to have volunteers like Michael who risk
their lives for our freedom. We're blessed to have mothers and
fathers like Maureen and Dan Murphy who raise sons of such
courage and character. And we're blessed with the mercy of a
loving God who comforts all those who grieve.
And now I ask Michael's parents to join on stage, and the
Military Aide will read the citation."