NEW YORK – More than 90 crew and family members of USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112), the Navy’s newest guided-missile destroyer, commemorated the ship’s namesake with a day of events dedicated to Lt. (SEAL) Michael P. Murphy Oct. 2.
The crew and families were joined by Murphy’s family, including his mother and ship’s sponsor, Maureen; father, Dan; and brother, John. They spent the day visiting sites in Murphy’s hometown of Long Island, N.Y. that honor his life and legacy.
The new destroyer is named for Murphy, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in combat as leader of a four-man reconnaissance team in Afghanistan. Murphy was the first person to be awarded the medal for actions in Afghanistan, and the first member of the U.S. Navy to receive the award since the Vietnam War.
Prior to the ship’s commissioning Oct. 6, Murphy’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Thomas Shultz, said it was critical for Sailors to spend time learning the significance behind the sacrifice of their ship’s namesake and his teammates.
"Today is somewhat similar to the day Maureen broke the champagne bottle on the bow of the ship to christen it,” Shultz said. “Just like we started the ship, we are all now starting down a new path and it’s important to know where the path began - and it all started with Michael."
The day began at the Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Stony Brook, N.Y., where Michael’s mother works. The Sailors played games with veterans and bonded over shared military experiences.
“The best part of the day for me was meeting and talking to the veterans,” said Culinary Specialist Seaman Apprentice Lee Broyles. “Hearing all their stories and getting to see Maureen interact with the veterans was a unique experience. I really appreciate all of our veterans.”
After the hospital visit, the crew traveled to Murphy’s gravesite at Calverton National Cemetery for a small ceremony to honor him. Of the more than 230,000 men and women buried in the cemetery, Murphy is the only Medal of Honor recipient buried there.
Monsignor Robert Coyle gave an opening prayer, followed by remarks from Murphy’s parents and Shultz.
“I come here every other day,” said Dan. “Michael was a teammate, and he rests with 11 other fallen heroes from Iraq and Afghanistan. As a family, Maureen and I are very happy that he rests with his teammates.”
“Michael had a lot of great attributes,” Maureen said. “He was smart, funny and had a knack for bringing people together. He still does to this day. He isn’t here physically, but in my heart he still lives.”
The commanding officer gave remarks to his crew about how they can use Michael’s legacy to make them a better crew.
“This is a significant time for us,” said Schultz. “Michael made a tremedous sacrifice. We’re here today because Michael is still with us. He’s someone that can make us a better person, and for us as a crew, a better shipmate. Leave here understanding that Michael is still with us and inspires us.”
A road in the cemetary was dedicated to Murphy and named Lt. Michael Murphy Way.
The day ended at Lake Ronkonkoma, where Murphy served as a lifeguard before joining the Navy and now bears the name “Navy SEAL Lt. Michael P. Murphy Memorial Park.” It was here in 2008 where then Secretary of the Navy, the Honorable Donald C. Winter, announced that the Navy’s newest guided-missile destroyer would bear Murphy’s name and his mother would be the sponsor.
Today, crewmembers visited Lt. Murphy’s purple heart monument and Serenity Plaza, ate dinner and watched a fireworks display over the lake. The crewmembers sang “Anchors Aweigh” as the fireworks lit up the sky.
The crew plans on continuing to honor their namesake and give life to Murphy.
“Michael was a fighter,” said Shultz. “Our mission is to always be combat ready, and work hard to complete the mission, which is exactly what Michael would have done.”