I love CrossFit and I love my CF2a family. Today is Memorial Day, 2013 and CrossFit boxes throughout the country will be doing a Hero WOD named Murph. The WOD is extremely intense, Rx is much too intense for my old bones. CrossFitters love challenges and they love to honor heroes by naming grueling workouts after them. But who is Murph and why should we care?
I did a little homework to find out who this man was and why he deserves our gratitude and respect. This is a bit of what I found.
Michael P. Murphy was born on May 7, 1976 in Smithtown, New York. He attended grade school Saxton Middle School in Patchogue. He played soccer and football. He continued playing football throughout his high school years. He also worked as a lifeguard in the summer, continuing that job even through college.
He acquired the nickname Murph as well as The Protector in his high school days. Friends recall several incidents where he came to the aid of victims of bullying, whether they be school kids, or the homeless.
Murph graduated from high school in 1994, and he graduated from Penn State in 1998 with degrees in Political Science and Psychology. He had been accepted into several law schools, but instead he opted to pursue a career in the military.
In 2000, he was accepted into Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Florida. By the end of 2001 he had graduated from underwater demolitions and SEAL training.
The following text, in italics, is copied directly from the documentary website about Murph: “In early 2005, Murphy was assigned to SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 1 as assistant officer in charge of ALFA Platoon and deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
On June 28, 2005, Lt. Murphy was the officer-in-charge of a four-man SEAL element in support of Operation Red Wing tasked with finding key anti-coalition militia commander near Asadabad, Afghanistan. Shortly after inserting into the objective area, the SEALs were spotted by three goat herders who were initially detained and then released. It is believed the goat herders immediately reported the SEALs’ presence to Taliban fighters.
A fierce gun battle ensued on the steep face of the mountain between the SEALs and a much larger enemy force. Despite the intensity of the firefight and suffering grave gunshot wounds himself, Murphy is credited with risking his own life to save the lives of his teammates. Murphy, intent on making contact with headquarters, but realizing this would be impossible in the extreme terrain where they were fighting, unhesitatingly and with complete disregard for his own life moved into the open, where he could gain a better position to transmit a call to get help for his men.
Moving away from the protective mountain rocks, he knowingly exposed himself to increased enemy gunfire. This deliberate and heroic act deprived him of cover and made him a target for the enemy. While continuing to be fired upon, Murphy made contact with the SOF Quick Reaction Force at Bagram Air Base and requested assistance. He calmly provided his unit’s location and the size of the enemy force while requesting immediate support for his team. At one point, he was shot in the back causing him to drop the transmitter. Murphy picked it back up, completed the call and continued firing at the enemy who was closing in. Severely wounded, Lt. Murphy returned to his cover position with his men and continued the battle.
As a result of Murphy’s call, an MH-47 Chinook helicopter, with eight additional SEALs and eight Army Night Stalkers aboard, was sent in as part of the QRF to extract the four embattled SEALs. As the Chinook drew nearer to the fight, a rocket-propelled grenade hit the helicopter, causing it to crash and killing all 16 men aboard.
On the ground and nearly out of ammunition, the four SEALs, continued to fight. By the end of a two-hour gunfight that careened through the hills and over cliffs, Murphy, Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class (SEAL) Danny Dietz and Sonar Technician 2nd Class (SEAL) Matthew Axelson had fallen. An estimated 35 Taliban were also dead. The fourth SEAL, Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class (SEAL) Marcus Luttrell, was blasted over a ridge by a rocket-propelled grenade and knocked unconscious. Though severely wounded, the fourth SEAL and sole survivor, Luttrell, was able to evade the enemy for nearly a day; after which local nationals came to his aide, carrying him to a nearby village where they kept him for three more days. Luttrell was rescued by U.S. Forces on July 2, 2005.
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 battle.
Lt. Murphy was buried at Calverton National Cemetery less than 20 miles from his childhood home. Lt. Murphy’s other personal awards include the Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Ribbon and National Defense Service Medal.”
Murph’s sacrifice made him the first Medal of Honor recipient in the War in Afghanistan, and the first member of the U.S. Navy to be so distinguished since the Vietnam War. Since that fateful day in 2005, Lt. Michael P. Murphy has been the subject of a documentary film, entitled Murph: The Protector, as well as a book entitled Seal of Honor: Operation Red Wings and the Life of Lt. Michael P. Murphy, USN and another book entitled Heart of a Lion: The Leadership of LT. Michael P. Murphy, U.S. Navy SEAL.
I addition, a newly commissioned naval destroyer, built at the Bath Iron Works in Maine, bears his name.
In a short life of 29 years, Michael P. Murphy made an impact far beyond the walls of our CrossFit Community. So though he was a fellow CrossFitter he was so much more. He was a Son, a Brother, a Student, a Warrior, a Hero. He was a man of courage and conviction, and he is most certainly worthy of our honor, gratitude and respect on this Memorial Day 2013.