Penn Stater and Navy SEAL Lt. Michael Murphy, killed in Afghanistan June '05, will be awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor at a White House ceremony today. His parents, Dan and Maureen, will accept on his behalf.
Murphy graduated with a degree in political science and psychology, but passed on law school and joined the Navy instead.
On June 28, 2005, Michael and three other SEALs were pursuing a key Taliban militia commander when confronted with heavy gunfire from a much larger enemy force, according to the Navy.
Michael was shot several times in the back and stomach, but was intent on radioing headquarters for reinforcements, according to the Navy. He moved from the protection of the rocky mountainside into the open -- exposing himself to Taliban forces -- in hopes of obtaining a clearer signal. He began to relay the troops' location to a dispatcher.
Shot once more in the back, Michael dropped the transmitter. He quickly retrieved it, completed the call, and continued to fire at the enemy while returning to his cover position.
Low on ammunition and severely wounded, the team continued to fight. But after two hours, Michael and two of the other soldiers had fallen. Locals carried the surviving soldier to a nearby village where he awaited rescue by U.S. forces.
According to the Navy, Michael's "undaunted courage, his intrepid fighting spirit and inspirational devotion to his men in the face of certain death" ultimately led to the rescue of one fellow officer and the recovery of the remains of the other three. [Daily Collegian]
Murphy died a hero in Afghanistan, and will be the first veteran of combat there to receive the nation's highest military honor. He's also the Navy's first Medal of Honor winner since Vietnam.
The Navy Times has a more graphic account of the firefight that ended in Murphy's death, including this detail, about the end of the satellite call he gave his life to make:
Then, Luttrell heard Murphy say, “Roger that, sir. Thank you.” The lieutenant continued to train fire on the enemy fighters.