Many of you have seen the movie, Lone Survivor. It was based on retired Navy Seal Marcus Luttrell‘s gripping story as the actual “Lone Survivor.” In the movie, Mark Wahlberg was cast as Marcus, and Luttrell actually had a small supporting role. The movie was very well done with superb cinematography, acting and stunts. Watching the movie, your lovable Grey Beard Biker could feel the pain of all four Navy SEALs as they literally fell down the mountain in Afghanistan, to get away from the Taliban fighters. That was make believe – a movie adaption of actual events.
Operation Red Wings
In real life, Navy SEALs Michael P. Murphy, Danny Dietz, Matthew Axelson and Luttrell would all inserted into a remote section of Afghani mountains to perform an overwatch of a village believed to harbor a known Taliban leader. Codenamed Operation Red Wings, after the Detroit NHL team, it would become symbolic of the War on Terror. Ultimately, their hiding place would be discovered by a group of Afghan goat herders, and their position would be compromised when the squad commander, Murphy, ordered that the innocents be released, unharmed. This accidental event would bring dozens of Taliban fighters to a position of strength over the four SEALs. After a prolonged small arms battle, only Luttrell would remain alive, to be rescued several days later.
Death on the Mountainside
On this day, 28 June 2005, Lieutenant Michael Murphy would ultimately die on the side of that remote mountain in Afghanistan – far away from his Long Island, New York home. With no direct way to communicate with his superiors, and needing support from AC-130 gunships, Murphy was forced to climb into an exposed position to use a satellite phone. Many other SEALs and Night Stalkers would also perish trying to rescue their Special Forces brothers (which I will write about later).
For his actions there, “Murph” was awarded our Country’s highest military award – the Medal of Honor. He would also have an Arleigh Burke class U.S. Navy destroyer named in his honor.
Murphy’s Medal of Honor citation:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as the leader of a special reconnaissance element with Naval Special Warfare Task Unit Afghanistan on 27 and 28 June 2005. While leading a mission to locate a high-level anti-coalition militia leader, Lieutenant Murphy demonstrated extraordinary heroism in the face of grave danger in the vicinity of Asadabad, Konar Province, Afghanistan.
On 28 June 2005, operating in an extremely rugged enemy-controlled area, Lieutenant Murphy’s team was discovered by anti-coalition militia sympathizers, who revealed their position to Taliban fighters. As a result, between 30 and 40 enemy fighters besieged his four-member team. Demonstrating exceptional resolve, Lieutenant Murphy valiantly led his men in engaging the large enemy force. The ensuing firefight resulted in numerous enemy casualties, as well as the wounding of all four members of the team. Ignoring his own wounds and demonstrating exceptional composure, Lieutenant Murphy continued to lead and encourage his men. When the primary communicator fell mortally wounded, Lieutenant Murphy repeatedly attempted to call for assistance for his beleaguered teammates. Realizing the impossibility of communicating in the extreme terrain, and in the face of almost certain death, he fought his way into open terrain to gain a better position to transmit a call.
This deliberate heroic act deprived him of cover, exposing him to direct enemy fire. Finally achieving contact with his headquarters, Lieutenant Murphy maintained his exposed position while he provided his location and requested immediate support for his team. In his final act of bravery, he continued to engage the enemy until he was mortally wounded, gallantly giving his life for his country and for the cause of freedom. By his selfless leadership, courageous actions, and extraordinary devotion to duty, Lieutenant Murphy reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
USS Michael Murphy
The USS Michael Murphy (DDG-112), an Arleigh Burke Class destroyer, would have her keel laid down on June 18, 2010. Less than one year later, on May 7, 2011, the ship would be christened by Murphy’s mother, Maureen Murphy – on Murph’s birthday. The Michael Murphy would be commissioned in New York City on October 1, 2012 and would arrive in her home port, Naval Station Pearl Harbor, on November 21.
On this, the fourteenth anniversary of your untimely death, the Grey Beard Biker salutes you, “Murph!” Your heroism, leadership and tenacity are a tribute to you and the United States military. May you forever rest-in-peace, knowing a grateful nation honors your memory!