By Rear Adm. Brian Fort, commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific
Lt. Michael P. Murphy, namesake of our USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112), was tough – physically, mentally and morally.
From an early age he was known as “the Protector.” He looked out for others, whether family, friends or strangers. According to his parents, Maureen and Dan Murphy, of Patchogue, New York, he had a strong understanding of right and wrong and was a natural leader at an early age.
His best friend, Owen O’Callaghan, was assigned to New York’s Engine 53 Ladder 43 fire station, which responded to the attacks of September 11, 2001. Lt. Murphy, along with members of his Navy SEAL team, wore the firefighters’ patch as a sign of solidarity in their fight against terrorists.
The crest of USS Michael Murphy is inspired by the design in the firefighting company’s patch. And, firefighters of Ladder 53 Engine 43 wear the Navy SEAL patch in return.
Nearly all Sailors – and many civilians – know the story of Lt. Michael Murphy and his awesome courage as he fought and died to save his fellow SEALs in Afghanistan, June 28, 2005.
Outnumbered and severely wounded in combat he purposely exposed himself to enemy fire to call in assistance for his team.
For his unwavering selfless courage Murphy received the Medal of Honor, awarded posthumously. We honor and remember his toughness – and his fairness.
Lt. Murphy’s memory continues to inspire Sailors who serve and “lead the fight” aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Michael Murphy, homeported at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
USS Michael Murphy has deployed three times in the past year, including with both Carl Vinson Strike Group and the Wasp Expeditionary Strike Group.
Last year, Michael Murphy spent more than 200 days underway in the U.S. 3rd Fleet and U.S. 7th Fleet operating areas, conducted eight port visits in five countries and steamed 60,000 nautical miles.
In 2018 Michael Murphy conducted South China Sea operations; making port visits to Guam and Manila, Republic of the Philippines and conducting Oceania Maritime Security Initiative operations with a U.S. Coast Guard detachment to protect fishing areas and enforce maritime laws.
Recently, Sailors of Michael Murphy represented the Navy at Fleet Week in Portland, Oregon before returning and deploying again.
During Fleet Weeks, the men and women of DDG-112 provided ship tours to thousands of people, including young people who had an opportunity to learn about namesake Navy SEAL Lt. Michael P. Murphy.
In recent weeks we learned that a 14-year-old boy desecrated a memorial plaque in Lt. Michael P. Murphy Park in Lake Ronkonkoma, New York.
While some people reacted with anger and hate, I was heartened to see the reaction of Michael’s parents, Dan and Maureen Murphy. Maureen is USS Michael Murphy’s sponsor.
Maureen Murphy said, “The boy who did this, he’s a child. He did something foolish. And everybody has done something foolish when they’re younger.” Michael’s father, Dan Murphy, said, “Michael was the type of person who would have wanted to take this person under his wing and talk to him. I hope they educate this young man.”
This kind of understanding, forgiveness and compassion is another kind of toughness, a kind all leaders need. It’s easy to see how their son grew to be the man he became.
In “Seal of Honor” author Gary Williams writes, “Michael was able to see both the good and bad in people … He inherently believed the best in people and always gave them the benefit of any doubt.”
When Michael was in the eighth grade – around the age of the teen who vandalized the plaque – he saw a group of boys bullying a special education student, trying to push the child into a locker. Michael stood up to them and got in a fight with several of them. It would not be the last time he would step up to bullies and lead the fight.
That’s when he earned the nickname “the Protector.”
Today, Sailors aboard USS Michael Murphy protect and defend our nation as part of Navy’s living legacy, dedicated to providing security and stability in the name of freedom.