October 11, 2007

Navy SEAL Lt. Michael Murphy To Receive Congressional Medal Of Honor

“His objective was clear: to make one last valiant attempt to save his two teammates”

Only the third medal of honor awarded since the start of conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq (h/t Ace):
Murphy, 29, was leading a four-man observation team in Afghanistan’s Hindu Kush mountains when they were spotted by Taliban fighters on June 28, 2005. During the intense battle, Murphy and two of his men — Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class (SEAL) Danny Dietz and Sonar Technician 2nd Class (SEAL) Matthew Axelson — were killed, and a fourth man, former Special Warfare Operator 1st Class (SEAL) Marcus Luttrell, was seriously wounded but managed to escape. Luttrell was rescued days later.

Murphy, known as “Mikey” to his friends and family, shot and wounded, managed to crawl onto a ridgeline and radio headquarters at the nearby air base for them to send in reinforcements. Taliban fighters were closing in on the team’s position, shooting their weapons and firing rocket-propelled grenades.

“Mikey was ignoring his wound and fighting like a SEAL officer should, uncompromising, steady, hard-eyed, and professional,” Luttrell wrote in his recently published book, Lone Survivor, about his military experiences, his team and the events of that day and the deaths of his teammates, his friends.

The fighting grew more intense, but the team pressed on in the close-quarters battle. At one point, Luttrell wrote, Murphy took his mobile phone, “walked to open ground. He walked until he was more or less in the center, gunfire all around him, and he sat on a small rock and began punching in the numbers to HQ.”

“I could hear him talking,” Luttrell wrote. “ ‘My men are taking heavy fire ... we’re getting picked apart. My guys are dying out here ... we need help.’

“And right then Mikey took a bullet straight in the back. I saw the blood spurt from his chest. He slumped forward, dropping his phone and his rifle. But then he braced himself, grabbed them both, sat upright again, and once more put the phone to his ear.

“ ‘Roger that, sir. Thank you,’ ” Luttrell heard Murphy say, before the lieutenant continued to train fire on the enemy fighters.

“Only I knew what Mikey had done. He’d understood we had only one realistic chance, and that was to call in help,” Luttrell wrote. “Knowing the risk, understanding the danger, in the full knowledge the phone call could cost him his life, Lieutenant Michael Patrick Murphy, son of Maureen, fiancé of the beautiful Heather, walked out into the firestorm.

“His objective was clear: to make one last valiant attempt to save his two teammates,” he wrote.
BlackFive has more on this brave American.

Previous Navy SEAL/Danny Dietz blogging.

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