Skip to comments.Navy Mission of Officer Was Secret to Parents
Posted on 07/08/2005 5:15:01 PM PDT by FlJoePa
July 8, 2005
By PETER C. BELLER
PATCHOGUE, N.Y., July 7 - The only details the parents of Lt. Michael P. Murphy knew about their son's missions were the funny ones. Like the time a pack of hyenas attacked him as he was jogging, or the e-mail message he sent his father about exercising on a running track where a sign read, "Please refrain from using this path until de-mining occurs."
Until last week, when Lieutenant Murphy, 29, was reported missing in Afghanistan, his parents, Daniel and Maureen, did not even know he was in that country, they said, a natural occurrence since their son led a team of elite commandos who cannot reveal where they are or what they do.
"You try and gauge, would this be part of his mission, or somebody else's?" said Mr. Murphy, clasping hands with his wife as they spoke with reporters outside their shingled home in Patchogue on Thursday. "He never talked much about his job at all, except a funny story."
Lieutenant Murphy died while on a secret antiterrorism mission against Taliban and Qaeda forces in Afghanistan, according to the Defense Department. His four-member reconnaissance contingent came under attack, a helicopter carrying 16 soldiers that flew in as a reinforcement was shot down, and all aboard died, military officials said.
Although people often perceive members of the Sea-Air-Land unit of the Navy as gung-ho warriors, Lieutenant Murphy's parents said they were more likely to be respectful and compassionate, which fit the profile of their son all his life. "It has something to do with the fact that they know they are elite," Mr. Murphy said. "They don't have to prove how tough they are."
He put a game face on when his parents went to Pearl Harbor to visit, but the real Lieutenant Murphy was the pale, smiling young man in a photograph taken just after a dunk in San Diego Bay to celebrate his entry into the Seals, his father said.
Above all, his parents said, Lieutenant Murphy was unassuming, the kind of young man who would stand up for someone being picked on in school or serve as a tutor during summers in college without telling his parents. "This would embarrass him," Ms. Murphy said through tears, referring to the reporters, photographers and television cameras assembled on her front lawn. "But you know what, he's a hero."
Their younger son, John, 19, stood quietly in front of the cameras.
Lieutenant Murphy joined the Navy in 2000 on the condition that he could become a member of the Seals, going so far as to have corrective surgery on his eyes so he could qualify, his father said. After officer training school, he started training for the unit in early 2001.
During Hell Week, the intense run-up to graduation, Lieutenant Murphy called home on the verge of tears and asked his father to send him a photo, the father said. Taken in 1970, it showed the father recuperating from shrapnel wounds he suffered as an infantry sergeant in Vietnam. "He said, 'Dad, if you can get through that, I can get through Hell Week,' " Mr. Murphy recalled.
Lieutenant Murphy was engaged to be married in October. He met his fiancée, Heather Duggan, 27, while a student at Pennsylvania State University. The two started out as good friends. "Everyone else knew they were in love, but they didn't recognize it until later," Mr. Murphy said. Lieutenant Murphy eventually asked Ms. Duggan's father for permission to marry her and carried the engagement ring in his pocket for four months before proposing under the tree at Rockefeller Center on Dec. 26, 2003.
Although they had an inkling that their son's fourth deployment had been to the Middle East, Lieutenant Murphy's parents said they were still in the dark about the mission their son was on and how he died.
Mr. Murphy said the details do not matter, though. When the military tells them, the couple will go to Dover Air Force Base to retrieve their son's body for burial. They already made the trip once, earlier this week, to welcome their son home.
"We wanted him to know his parents were there," his father said.
a true loss of a true american and for his true american family... this is why america is great and it is because of people like the murphy's and their son...
You said it first, but I'll say it anyway. Thank you, Lt. Murphy, my eternal gratitude. BTW, I had the pleasure of meeting an older gentleman today wearing a Marine cap. I asked if was a Marine. He said yes, and I got to say thank you for your service, sir. I am grateful for that opportunity. To all of our military, thank you.
Mrs. Maureen Murphy with new baby Michael Patrick at St. John's Hospital in Smithtown. (Newsday File Photo/Joe Dombroski) May 8, 1976
It was two days before Mother's Day in 1976 when 23-year-old Maureen Murphy gave birth to her first child. She'd wanted a particular kind of baby and got it.
"I prayed to God for a bald-headed baby," she said in a Newsday story published that Mother's Day. "I left a note on my dresser saying, 'Please God, give me a bald-headed baby,' and I got one."
Born at 5:59 a.m. on May 7 at St. John's Smithtown Hospital, her son was 7 pounds, 15 ounces. She and her husband Daniel gave him what she called a nice Irish name, Michael Patrick.
He would grow up and join the U.S. Navy and become a SEAL. He would go fight in Afghanistan as a commando. He would go missing June 28. And on Monday he would be found dead.
Back 29 years ago, his mother had been nervous. And excited about motherhood. And she held high expectations for her first-born. "His father is a lawyer, so he wants him to be a lawyer, too," Maureen Murphy said. "I just want to be proud of him when he grows up."
Yesterday, his father said they were proud indeed.
"We were just honored to have him as a son for 29 years," Daniel Murphy said.
thanks for the post .. a true hero, indeed. God bless and comfort the Murphy family.
Heartbreaking. And we have to listen to morons like Ronnie Reagan, who learned politics with his pink tutu on.
Mr. & Mrs. Murphy: Your son will always be remembered as a hero. Thank you for raising such a wonderful man.
Your son was a hero and a patriotic American role model for our youth, which is much needed.
The only two Seals I got to know were like that. They could have been waiters. Very relaxed, unassuming and under stated.
His parents should be commended for honoring him as a hero. It is obvious to me that they will always love and miss their son, but they do not regret his service to his country and the cause of freedom.
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