Lt. Michael P. Murphy, a Navy SEAL from Patchogue, N.Y., was killed in action in Afghanistan on June 28, 2005. On Friday evening, his father came to Binghamton University to speak with students.
Daniel Murphy addressed a crowd of close to 70 students in the West Gym. His talk covered the life and death of his son, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his valor in battle during Operation Red Wings.
During the operation, Murphy and his three-man Navy SEAL team ended up in a gun battle with dozens of Taliban militants. Murphy, who had received several gunshot wounds, risked his life to reach higher, exposed ground in order to get a call out to inform their headquarters of their position.
Of the four SEALS, only one, Marcus Luttrell, survived. Murphy is credited with having made this rescue, as well as the recovery of his and his teammates’ remains, possible.
Darin Mihalik, a junior majoring in physics, was one of the organizers of the event, which raised $800 for the Lt. Michael P. Murphy Memorial Scholarship Foundation, which awards nine educational scholarships a year. He said that Lt. Murphy’s story hits close to home.
“I’m from Patchogue; I’m from Mike Murphy’s hometown,” he said. “The news of his passing came to our town pretty much before it did to anyone else. Once everyone found out the hero that he was and what he did and when he got the Medal of Honor, the story kind of spread.”
Mihalik said that it was important to bring a different perspective for students to hear than just that shown in the 2013 movie “Lone Survivor.”
“This is one of the greatest American war heroes of our time. I wanted to try and do something to honor him,” he said.
William Lemen, a senior majoring in biology who also helped organize the event, said that Lt. Murphy had been a hero of his for the past few years, and that he wanted to find a way to share Murphy’s story.
“At the beginning of last semester, I got the idea to do an event in [his] honor,” he said. “I thought it would be great to have his parents come in and talk about his life.”
Murphy’s father spoke to the crowd about a variety of topics, including how Lt. Murphy was growing up. He shared stories about Lt. Murphy protecting a disabled boy from bullying in the locker room.
“The principal called and told me that he was suspended for getting into an altercation,” Murphy explained, “but he told me to not punish him, because he had been protecting someone. The school had to suspend him because of protocol.”
Afterward, he took questions from the audience. One attendee asked what his fondest memory of his son was. Murphy answered that he cherished his late-night drives to Pennsylvania State University from Long Island.
President Harvey Stenger said the Murphy family was extremely receptive to the invitation to come to BU.
“When the students were beginning to plan it, they asked me if I would do the invitation to the Murphy family. So I was the one who wrote the original letter to Mr. Murphy to see if he would come,” he explained. “Very quickly, they responded that they would love to come and honor Michael one more time.”
Mihalik said he wished more people had attended the talk.
“It was unfortunate we couldn’t get a bigger turnout,” he said. “The Medal of Honor — of which there are only around 3,000 — was on campus and not many people came to see it.”
However, he added that he greatly enjoyed Murphy’s speech.
“I could have listened to Mr. Murphy for a few more hours,” Mihalik said.