The Navy has confirmed that a US Navy SEAL is under consideration for the Medal of Honor for his posthumous heroism in Afghanistan in what may become the most highly-decorated small unit for a single engagement in U.S. history.
It was also one of the costliest engagements for US spec ops forces in the Iraq-Afghanistan war, and stands as the deadliest day in SEAL Team history.
Lieutenant Michael Murphy (right) and two other members of the four-man recon team were killed in action in 2005 when they were ambushed and overrun by a numerically superior enemy force in the Hindu Kush mountains.
Those who follow Medal of Honor news and rumors have long assumed that Murphy would receive the nation's highest valor award since the three others in the team, including the sole survivor who has since returned to covert ops, have been awarded the Navy Cross--second only to the Medal of Honor.
On 14 September, 2006, Petty Officer 2nd Class Danny P. Dietz (left) and Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew G. Axelson (below, right) were awarded the Navy Cross for "undaunted courage" and heroism. The survivng SEAL was also awarded a Navy Cross in a private cerermony. Great details about "The One"-- the surviving SEAL -- are found here.
Based on the level of heroism being acknowedged, and that Murphy was not mentioned along with the others, indictes to many that a Medal of Honor for him will be forthcoming.
These are the basics: 28 June--As "Operation Red Wing", Murphy's team, thought to have been inserted along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border at an elevation of 10,000 feet, was tasked not for recon but as as a high-value target sniper team... the target--either Taliban commanders Mullah Muhammad Omar or Ahmad Shah, or perhaps Bin Laden himself.
Almost immediately the SEALs were fighting for their lives. Murphy called for an emergency extraction which was responded to by an eight-man SEAL team and eight members of the 160th Special Ops Airborne Army troops. As the rescue chopper, an MH-47 Chinook Night Stalker, was on final for rescue, it was hit by an RPG (perhaps even a SAM) and crashed, killing all aboard. The SEAL team fought on despite grave wounds; the pilot of an orbiting escort attack chopper reported the team was putting up "an unbelievable firefight."
According to the lone surviving SEAL who escaped and evaded the pursuing enemy and was hidden by a local Afghani shepherd until he was rescued, Lt. Murphy saved him from being killed at one point during the fight.
He said that Murphy was shot as he climbed to open, higher ground to report the situation by satellite phone. Despite his wounds, Murphy completed the call, and returned to the fight until he was killed. (Axelson is shown above).
Operation Red Wing Casualties
Army KIAs were all assigned to the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) from Georgia. They were:
- Staff Sgt. Shamus O. Goare, 29, of Danville, Ohio.
- Chief Warrant Officer Corey J. Goodnature, 35, of Clarks Grove, Minn.
- Sgt. Kip A. Jacoby, 21, of Pompano Beach, Fla.
- Sgt. 1st Class Marcus V. Muralles, 33, of Shelbyville, Ind.
- Master Sgt James W. Ponder III, 36, of Franklin, Tenn.
- Maj. Stephen C. Reich, 34, of Washington Depot, Conn.
- Sgt. 1st Class Michael L. Russell, 31, of Stafford, Va.
- Chief Warrant Officer Chris J. Scherkenbach, 40, of Jacksonville, Fla.
- --Chief Petty Officer Jacques J. Fontan, 36, of New Orleans, La.
- --Senior Chief Petty Officer Daniel R. Healy, 36, of Exeter, N.H.
- --Lt. Cmdr. Erik S. Kristensen, 33, of San Diego, Calif.
- --Petty Officer 1st Class Jeffery A. Lucas, 33, of Corbett, Ore.
- --Lt. Michael M. McGreevy, Jr., 30, of Portville, N.Y.
- --Petty Officer 2nd Class James Suh, 28, of Deerfield Beach, Fla.
- --Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric S. Patton, 22, of Boulder City, Nev.
- --Petty Officer 1st Class Jeffrey S. Taylor, 30, of Midway, W.
Healy, Patton and Suh were from SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team One out of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The others were assigned to SEAL Team 10 out of Virginia Beach, Va.
May all of these fine men be remembered on the day that LT Michel P. Murphy, United States SEAL, is singled out for the kind of bravey we would find unbelievable, but SEALs consider just doing their job.
May they rest in peace.