U.S. Navy honors Penn State grad
By Adam Clark Collegian Staff Writer
When Michael Murphy was in middle school, he got into a fight with three boys who were shoving a special education student into a locker.
Murphy's actions led his mother, Maureen, to nickname him "the protector," a role he assumed in his adulthood as a member of the Navy SEALs.
But while protecting his country in 2005, Murphy, Class of 1998, was killed in the mountains of Afghanistan after exposing himself to enemy fire to call for backup.
Murphy has received numerous military awards, including the Purple Heart and the Medal of Honor. And in May, the U.S. Navy announced it will honor Murphy by naming its new missile destroyer the USS Michael Murphy.
"It's just such an honor," Maureen Murphy said. "I can't even describe it. It's such a big thing to have a ship named after you."
Michael graduated from Penn State with degrees in psychology and political science, his father, Daniel Murphy said.
"He liked the school very much," Daniel Murphy said. "It was a place where he could be on his own, but he wasn't that far from home."
Michael lived in East Halls for two years before moving to an apartment off campus and stayed active by playing ice hockey, Maureen Murphy said.
"He loved it," she said of Michael's years at Penn State. "I know that it was a great time for him."
After graduating from Penn State, Michael was accepted into several law schools but instead decided he wanted to become a Navy SEAL, Maureen Murphy said.
When his mother shared her concerns about the dangers of being in the military she said he told her, " 'Mom, you always think there is always good in everybody, and that's true, but there are some people that make other people's lives miserable and they need to be dealt with.' "
As a Navy SEAL, Michael once again assumed the role of protector, but also prepared for a new role, as he proposed to longtime friend and girlfriend Heather Duggan, Maureen Murphy said.
Michael and Duggan planned to marry in November 2005, but first Michael was deployed to Afghanistan as the leader of Operation Red Wing. There, he was charged with leading a four-man team searching for a Taliban leader in the mountains near Asadabad, Afghanistan, according to a Navy press release.
On June 28, 2005, Michael, 29, and his three SEAL teammates were surrounded by more than 50 anti-coalition militia. As gunfire ensued, Michael knowingly exposed himself to enemy fire to gain better reception to call for help.
During the call, Michael was shot in the back and dropped the transmitter but picked it up and completed the call.
After more than two hours of fighting Michael and two of his teammates were killed, but because of Michael's successful call, the fourth member of the team was eventually rescued.
"When everything happened they flew in from all over the country just to say goodbye to him." Maureen Murphy said of Michael's death. "That kind of speaks volumes."
Michael had planned to eventually leave the Navy and had already checked into working with the FBI, Maureen Murphy said.
Maureen Murphy is the sponsor of the USS Michael Murphy and next June will weld Michael's name as well as her own name into the ship at the laying of the keel ceremony, Daniel Murphy said.
"Michael Murphy's name, which will be forever synonymous with astonishing courage under fire, will now be associated with one of the U.S. Navy's most technologically advanced, most powerful and most capable warships," Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter said, according to a Navy press release.
Michael's biography is scheduled to be published next summer, Daniel Murphy said.
"I feel that even after his passing he still touches lives," Maureen Murphy said. "I've been proud of him since the day he was born."