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10-24-07, 08:38 AM #1
Parents: SEAL’s whole life led up to MoH
Parents: SEAL’s whole life led up to MoH
By Philip Ewing - Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Oct 23, 2007 17:45:40 EDT
A day after he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the parents of Lt. Michael Murphy said they always worried that he might someday get hurt helping other people, because he showed concern for others so often.
In an interview Tuesday at the Pentagon, Murphy’s mother Maureen told several stories about her son’s lifelong altruism, starting from when he was a child. At age 3 he cut his head in an accident, she said, and as many mothers might, she became almost frantic as he bled profusely.
“ ‘It doesn’t hurt, it’s OK,’ ” she remembered him reassuring her. “He was worried more about me,” she said.
When Murphy was in junior high, his parents got a call from the school principal, who told them their son had gotten into a fight. Some bullies were stuffing a disabled boy into a locker, Maureen said, but Murphy walked over and said, “If you want to pick on somebody, pick on me.’”
There were many other examples, she said, that all led up to the story that many people now know: In 2005 Murphy exposed himself to enemy fire while he tried to radio U.S. commanders and request help for his badly outnumbered four-man SEAL team. He was killed in the attempt, as were two of his teammates; later, the 16 special operators aboard the rescue helicopter also died when it was shot down.
At first, nobody but the Murphys and top U.S. commanders knew the story. But then Murphy’s teammates each were awarded the Navy Cross, and the one survivor, former Special Operator 1st Class Marcus Luttrell, wrote a bestselling book that recounted the sailors’ whole misadventure. And on Oct. 11, the Navy announced that President Bush would present Maureen and Murphy’s father, Dan, with the Medal of Honor; since then they’ve appeared on cable and network news programs, in newspapers and in reports across the Internet
“The attention we’re getting is obviously well-deserved for Michael, and we’re kind of sitting as representatives of him,” said Dan Murphy. “I think Maureen and I are glad to be out there to put a public face on our son so that the public knows, ‘wow, look what these men did.’ ”
Maureen Murphy said the avalanche of attention is unnatural — “I prefer to stay in the background,” she said — but she said it made her feel good that Murphy’s story is getting out to the widest possible audience. She choked back tears as she told a story about a stranger stopping her on the street in New York City to say “thank you” for Mike’s service.
There were many tears when the Murphys met privately Monday with President Bush in the Oval Office before he presented them with Mike’s Medal of Honor in the East Room. It was just the three of them, Dan said, and it was “extremely emotional. He had to bring out the tissue box for all three of us.”
The president told them that the death of any U.S. service member “touches him deeply.” The Murphys presented Bush with a replica of Mike’s dog tags, one side of which bore his name and on the other side, a holographic image of Mike.
To their amazement, Bush took off his jacket and tie and pulled the tag over his neck, they said; he wore it under his shirt during the whole awards ceremony. He made no public display or comment that he was wearing Mike’s dog tag, but the Murphys knew what it meant when the president touched his chest occasionally as he made a speech.
“And then, this is where I almost lost it. He put his arm around Maureen and I, as he’s escorting us out of the East Room,” Dan Murphy said, “and he said, ‘Murphs, you did good. I had Michael right next to my heart the whole time.’ ”
Dan Murphy said he wondered if people saw all his and Maureen’s media appearances and thought, could this guy really have been like this? Aren’t they’re just parents fawning over their lost son?
“Everybody wonders, ‘is there an underside?’ And we were so fortunate and blessed, there was no underside,” he said. “That Medal of Honor is a snapshot of Michael’s life.”
IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY LATE HUSBAND, SSgt Roger A. Alfano, USMC
ONE PROUD MARINE
Once a Marine...Always a Marine
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