Navy Lieutenant Michael Patrick Murphy was
born and raised in Suffolk County, NY. He graduated from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in political science and philosophy in 1998. In September 2000, “Murph” joined the Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Florida. In January 2001, he started training for the NAVY SEALs and became a member of the SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team ONE (SDVT-1) in Pearl Harbor. In early 2005, Murphy was assigned to SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team One as officer in charge of Alpha Platoon and deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
On the night of the 27th of June 2005, Murphy led a four-man reconnaissance team on a mission against Taliban Leader Ahmad Shah. Operation Red Wing was a counter-insurgent mission including Murphy, Sonar Technician 2nd Class (SEAL) Matthew G. Axelson, Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class (SEAL) Danny P. Dietz and Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class (SEAL) Marcus Luttrell.
The mission was compromised when the team was spotted by local goat herders, who presumably reported its presence and location to the Taliban.
A fierce firefight erupted between the four SEALs and a much larger enemy force of more than 50 anti-coalition militia. The enemy had the SEALs outnumbered. They also had terrain advantage. They launched a well-organized, three-sided attack on the SEALs. The firefight continued relentlessly as the overwhelming militia forced the team deeper into a ravine.
Trying to reach safety, the four men, now each wounded, began bounding down the mountain’s steep sides, making leaps of 20 to 30 feet. Approximately 45 minutes into the fight, pinned down by overwhelming forces, Dietz, the communications petty officer, sought open air to place a distress call back to the base. But before he could, he was shot in the hand, the blast shattering his thumb.
Despite the intensity of the firefight and suffering grave gunshot wounds himself, Murphy is credited with risking his own life to save the lives of his teammates. Murphy, intent on making contact with headquarters, but realizing this would be impossible in the extreme terrain where they were fighting, unhesitatingly and with complete disregard for his own life, moved into the open, where he could gain a better position to transmit a call to get help for his men. After Murphy called for help, an MH-47 Chinook helicopter loaded with reinforcements was dispatched to rescue the team, but was shot down with an RPG, killing all 16 personnel aboard; eight SEALs and eight service members from the 160th SOAR.
Murphy, Dietz, and Axelson were killed in the action. An estimated 35 Taliban were also killed. Luttrell was the only American survivor and was eventually rescued, after several days of wandering the mountain and being protected by the people of an Afghan village. All three of Murphy’s men were awarded the Navy’s second-highest honor, the Navy Cross, for their part in the battle. Their team is the most decorated Navy SEAL team in history.