Navy SEAL Lt. Michael Murphy was killed after exposing himself to make a desperate radio call for help after his four-man team was ambushed by hundreds of Taliban militants. In a deadly game of hide-and-seek which lasted most of the day, the SEALs were overwhelmed.
I first reported on the possibility of Murphy's Medal last Feb. 2 in "Operation Redwing".
After a searing, two-hour gun fight, three SEALs, including Murphy, died in their final redoubt. The survivor, Marcus Luttrell, was blown off a ledge in the battle and rolled down a mountainside where he lay unconscious and was missed by the enemy. (Later found by villagers, Luttrell was finally rescued and returned to military control.)
While being shot at repeatedly, Murphy calmly provided his unit’s location and requested immediate support for his element. He returned to his cover position to continue the fight until finally succumbing to his wounds.
Murphy's call for emergency extraction was answered to by SOF Quick Reaction Force comprised of 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, it was hit by an RPG (perhaps even a SAM) and crashed, killing all aboard. It is the worst lost of life incident in SEAL history.
Meanwhile, the team on the ground--all gravely wounded, its ammo nearly gone--fought on; just before the end, the pilot of an orbiting escort attack chopper reported the team was putting up "an unbelievable firefight."
Murphy's father, Daniel, said he was comforted when "Mike's admiral said, 'Don't think these men went down easy. There were 35 Taliban strewn on the ground.'
It is fitting that yesterday, Oct. 13, the Navy celebrated its 232nd birthday. The Navy celebrates its origins to the Continental Navy, which the Continental Congress established on 13 October 1775 by authorizing the procurement, fitting out, manning, and dispatch of two armed vessels to cruise in search of munitions ships supplying the British Army in America.
The legislation also established a Naval Committee to supervise the work. All together, the Continental Navy numbered some fifty ships over the course of the war, with approximately twenty warships active at its maximum strength.
Today, the Navy's submarine fleet alone has greater destructive power than all the world's entire militarize combined.
Belated best wishes to all our Sailors, past and present: