At a small ceremony tomorrow, Saturday, May 7, at Bath Iron Works – Bath, Maine, the US Navy will christen a new warship, the USS Michael Murphy (DDG-112). New ships are launched all the time but this one is special. This ship was named after Lt. Michael Murphy, a Navy Seal and first naval recipient of the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam war. He died in combat in Afghanistan, June 28, 2005, acting above and beyond the call of duty. He is a true American hero.
This honor is as much about how Lt. Murphy lived as to how he died. Sure, he set himself apart from lesser men when he laid his life on the line and paid the ultimate price. This man set himself apart long before he joined the Navy and endured the rigors of Seal training. He was tagged with the nickname of “The Protector,” given to him in his childhood for defending a special-needs child when a group of bullies tried to stuff him in a locker. Or the time he intervened on behalf of a homeless man from a group of uncaring youths. Michael Murphy stood up for those that couldn’t.
On October 11, 2007, The White House announced Murphy would be presented the Medal of Honor, awarded posthumously, during a ceremony at the White House on October 22, 2007. Then, on May 7, 2008, then Secretary of the navy Donald Winter announced that DDG-112, the last planned US Arleigh Burke class destroyer at the time, would be named USS Michael Murphy (DDG-112), in honor of Lt. Murphy.
At a small ceremony on June 18th of 2010, the keel was laid down and authenticated to mark the beginning of construction of the future USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112). Ceremony guests of honor included Murphy’s mother; father, Dan; and brother, John, who confirmed the destroyer’s keel, the large beam around which the hull of a ship is constructed, was laid “straight and true.” Ceremony attendees also included nearly 20 Navy SEALS.
“There are no words,” said Maureen Murphy, mother of Murphy. “I still can’t get it through my head that a U.S. Navy ship is going to be named after my son. He would be honored. I hope to have a good rapport with the crew of the Michael Murphy. On the ship, it’s going to be like one big family, and I would like to have a good relationship with the crew.”
That effort culminates tomorrow, May 7th, when Maureen Murphy will have the honor of christening the ship by smashing a bottle of champagne against the bow of the 510-foot-long warship as Murphy’s father, brother and others watch.
There are times when I am never prouder of being an American. This is one of them. In the face of grave loss we can show our strength in community and honor those that, through their sacrifice, allow us to do so.
Godspeed, USS Micheal Murphy.