10/22/07 UPDATE: Full citation posted!
A Navy SEAL will posthumously receive the Medal of Honor on October 22. Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy is the third man to receive America's highest military award for valor in the War on Terror.
Murphy was the officer-in-charge of the SEAL element, which was tasked with locating a high- level Taliban militia leader to provide intelligence for a follow-on mission to capture or destroy the local leadership and disrupt enemy activity. However local Taliban sympathizers discovered the SEAL unit and immediately revealed their position to Taliban fighters. The element was besieged on a mountaintop by scores of enemy fighters. The firefight that ensued pushed the element farther into enemy territory and left all four SEALs wounded.
The SEALs fought the enemy fearlessly despite being at a tactical disadvantage and outnumbered more than four to one. Understanding the gravity of the situation and his responsibility to his men, Murphy, already wounded, deliberately and unhesitatingly moved from cover into the open where he took and returned fire while transmitting a call for help for his beleaguered teammates. Shot through the back while radioing for help, Murphy completed his transmission while returning fire. The call ultimately led to the rescue of one severely wounded team member, Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Marcus Luttrell, and the recovery of the remains of Murphy and Gunner's Mate 2nd Class (SEAL) Danny Dietz and Sonar Technician 2nd Class (SEAL) Matthew Axelson.
Eight more SEALs and eight Army "Nightstalker" special operations personnel comprising the initial reinforcement also lost their lives when their helicopter was shot down before they could engage the enemy. The entire battle, the culmination of Operation Redwing, resulted in the worst single day loss of life for Naval Special Warfare personnel since World War II.
The sole surviving SEAL, Marcus Luttrell, wrote a book about the battle after he departed the Navy this summer. In his book Luttrell credited all three of his teammates for their heroism, including Murphy's sacrificial act that eventually led to his rescue.
Please, when you discuss this good news with friends and family, remember the following:
- LT Murphy will receive the medal, not "win" it. Recipients consider it disrespectful to be called "winners."
- Even though the President awards the medal in the name of Congress, it's not the "Congressional Medal of Honor" or the "CMH." It's simply the Medal of Honor. Much of the confusion probably stems from the name of The Congressional Medal of Honor Society; it's a Congressionally-chartered society, not a society for recipients of a Congressional medal. The official name of the award is the Medal of Honor.
- Try not to confuse the Medal of Honor with the Presidential Medal of Freedom or the Congressional Gold Medal, neither of which are military awards for valor.
- Take time to learn about recipients of the next-highest award for valor in combat. Click on the "Uncommon Valor" logo in the upper right corner of this page and familiarize yourself with other heroes of this war (especially LT Murphy's teammates, Matt Axelson, Danny Dietz, and lone survivor Marcus Luttrell).
Thank you, Lieutenant Murphy, for your valor and sacrifice.