Navy SEAL LT Michael Murphy
Earns Medal of Honor
Navy SEAL (SEa, Air, Land) Lt Michael Murphy, 29, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in Afghanistan on June 28, 2005.
Murphy is the first service member to be awarded the Medal of Honor for combat action in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, and the first Navy SEAL since WWII to receive the MOH.
He is also the first Navy service member to receive the Medal of Honor for actions in the Global War on Terror and the third armed forces service member to receive the Medal of Honor since the beginning of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
Lt. Murphy was killed by enemy forces during a reconnaissance mission, Operation Redwing. He led a four-man team tasked with finding a key Taliban leader in the mountainous terrain near Asadabad, Afghanistan, when they came under fire from a much larger enemy force with superior tactical position.
Mortally wounded, and knowingly exposing himself to further enemy fire, Murphy left his position of cover in order to get a clear communications signal to request backup support. Despite being shot in the back, causing him to drop the radio, Murphy picked up the radio and calmly provided his unit’s location, requesting immediate support for his element. He returned to his cover position to continue the fight until finally succumbing to his wounds.
Three of the four men in Murphy's team (Murphy, Axelson and Dietz) died. An estimated 35 Taliban were also killed in the two-hour firefight. To compound the tragedy, sixteen other service members on the way to provide that requested backup support also died. As their MH-47 Chinook helicopter raced to the battle, a rocket-propelled grenade struck the helicopter, killing all 16 men aboard.
The fourth SEAL, Marcus Luttrell, was blasted over a ridge by a rocket-propelled grenade and was knocked unconscious. Regaining consciousness some time later, Luttrell managed to escape – badly injured – and slowly crawl away down the side of a cliff. Dehydrated, with a bullet wound to one leg, shrapnel embedded in both legs, and three vertebrae cracked, the situation for Luttrell was grim.
Traveling seven miles on foot, despite his injuries, he evaded the enemy for nearly a day. Gratefully, local nationals came to his aid, carrying him to a nearby village where they kept him safe for three days. The Taliban came to the village several times demanding that Luttrell be turned over to them. The villagers refused.
One of the villagers made his way to a Marine outpost with a note from Luttrell, and U.S. forces launched a massive operation that rescued him from enemy territory on July 2.
By his undaunted courage, intrepid fighting spirit and inspirational devotion to his men in the face of certain death, Lt. Murphy was able to relay the position of his unit, an act that ultimately led to the rescue of Luttrell and the recovery of the remains of the three who were killed in the tragic battle.
This was the single largest loss of life for Naval Special Warfare since World War II.
We hold with reverence the ultimate sacrifice these brave Americans made while engaged in that fierce fire fight on the front lines of the global war on terrorism (GWOT).
President Bush's remarks at the award ceremony
The Medal of Honor Citation
OPERATION REDWING KIAs- On June 28, 2005, three of four SEALS on the ground (Murphy, Dietz, Axelson) were killed during combat operations in support of Operation Red Wing. On the same day, eight Navy SEALs and 8 Army Night Stalkers were also killed when the MH-47 helicopter that they were aboard was shot down by enemy fire.
SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 1, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
- Lt. (SEAL) Michael P. Murphy, 29, of Patchogue, NY
- Sonar Technician (Surface) 2nd Class (SEAL) Matthew G. Axelson, 29, of Cupertino, CA
- Machinist Mate 2nd Class (SEAL) Eric S. Patton, 22, of Boulder City, NV
- Senior Chief Information Systems Technician (SEAL) Daniel R. Healy, 36, of Exeter, NH
- Quartermaster 2nd Class (SEAL) James Suh, 28, of Deerfield Beach, FL
SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 2, Virginia Beach, Virginia
- Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class (SEAL) Danny P. Dietz, 25, of Littleton, CO
SEAL Team 10, Virginia Beach, Virginia
- Chief Fire Controlman (SEAL) Jacques J. Fontan, 36, of New Orleans, LA
- Lt. Cmdr. (SEAL) Erik S. Kristensen, 33, of San Diego, CA
- Electronics Technician 1st Class (SEAL) Jeffery A. Lucas, 33, of Corbett, OR
- Lt. (SEAL) Michael M. McGreevy Jr., 30, of Portville, NY
- Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (SEAL) Jeffrey S. Taylor, 30, of Midway, WV
Army Night Stalkers
3rd Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), Hunter Army Air Field, GA
- Staff Sgt. Shamus O. Goare, 29, of Danville, OH
- Chief Warrant Officer Corey J. Goodnature, 35, of Clarks Grove, MN
- Sgt. Kip A. Jacoby, 21, of Pompano Beach, FL
- Sgt. 1st Class Marcus V. Muralles, 33, of Shelbyville, IN
- Maj. Stephen C. Reich, 34, of Washington Depot, CN
- Sgt. 1st Class Michael L. Russell, 31, of Stafford, VA
- Chief Warrant Officer Chris J. Scherkenbach, 40, of Jacksonville, FL
HQ Company, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), Fort Campbell, Kentucky
- Master Sgt. James W. Ponder III, 36, of Franklin, TN