A Navy SEAL from Long Island who was killed while leading a reconnaissance mission deep behind enemy lines in Afghanistan will receive the nation’s highest military award for valor _ the Medal of Honor, President Bush announced Thursday.
Lt. Michael P. Murphy, 29, of Patchogue, is the first armed forces service member to receive the Medal of Honor for combat in Afghanistan, the Navy said Thursday. The medal is the nation’s highest military award for valor in action against an enemy force.
Two Medals of Honor have been awarded posthumously in the Iraq war: Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham, who was killed in 2004 after covering a grenade with his helmet; and Army Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith, who was killed in 2003 after holding off Iraqi forces with a machine gun before he was killed at the Baghdad airport.
President Bush will present the Medal of Honor to Murphy’s parents at a White House ceremony on Oct. 22.
“His sacrifice reminds us of the dangers the men and women of our Armed Forces face in order to defend our nation,” said Rep. Timothy Bishop, a Democrat from Long Island. “I can think of no one more deserving of this medal today. It can never make up for his loss, but it extends the honor which he and his family so well deserve.”
According to a Navy citation, Murphy and three fellow SEALs were searching for a terrorist in the Afghan mountains on June 28, 2005, when their mission was compromised after they were spotted by locals, who presumably reported their presence and location to the Taliban. A fierce firefight ensued, with more than 50 anti-coalition militia firing on the outnumbered SEALs. Despite the intensity of the firefight, Murphy _ already wounded _ is credited with risking his own life to save the lives of his comrades by moving into the open for a better position to transmit a call for help. While continuing to be fired upon, Murphy provided his unit’s location and the size of the enemy force. At one point he was shot in the back, causing him to drop the transmitter. Murphy picked it back up, completed the call and continued firing at the enemy who was closing in. Murphy then returned to his cover position with his men and continued the battle.
By the end of the two-hour gunfight, Murphy and two of his comrades were dead. An estimated 35 Taliban were also killed. The fourth member of their team managed to escape and was protected by local villagers for several days before he was rescued.
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Blackfive has blogged Lt. Murphy’s heroism for quite a while. Check out all the background links.