USS Michael Murphy the Protector

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By Rear Adm. Brian Fort, commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific

Lt. Michael P. Murphy, namesake of our USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112), was tough – physically, mentally and morally.

From an early age he was known as “the Protector.” He looked out for others, whether family, friends or strangers. According to his parents, Maureen and Dan Murphy, of Patchogue, New York, he had a strong understanding of right and wrong and was a natural leader at an early age.


SEAL Lt. Michael P. Murphy, from Patchogue, N.Y. Murphy was killed by enemy forces during a reconnaissance mission, Operation Red Wings, June 28, 2005, while leading a four-man team tasked with finding a key Taliban leader in the mountainous terrain near Asadabad, Afghanistan. (U. S. Navy photo/Released)

His best friend, Owen O’Callaghan, was assigned to New York’s Engine 53 Ladder 43 fire station, which responded to the attacks of September 11, 2001. Lt. Murphy, along with members of his Navy SEAL team, wore the firefighters’ patch as a sign of solidarity in their fight against terrorists.

The crest of USS Michael Murphy is inspired by the design in the firefighting company’s patch. And, firefighters of Ladder 53 Engine 43 wear the Navy SEAL patch in return.

Nearly all Sailors – and many civilians – know the story of Lt. Michael Murphy and his awesome courage as he fought and died to save his fellow SEALs in Afghanistan, June 28, 2005.

Outnumbered and severely wounded in combat he purposely exposed himself to enemy fire to call in assistance for his team.

For his unwavering selfless courage Murphy received the Medal of Honor, awarded posthumously. We honor and remember his toughness – and his fairness.


The Medal of Honor rests on a flag beside a SEAL trident during preparations for an award ceremony for Lt. Michael P. Murphy. Murphy was killed by enemy forces during a reconnaissance mission, Operation Red Wings, June 28, 2005, while leading a four-man team tasked with finding a key Taliban leader in the mountainous terrain near Asadabad, Afghanistan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brandan W. Schulze/Released)

Lt. Murphy’s memory continues to inspire Sailors who serve and “lead the fight” aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Michael Murphy, homeported at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

USS Michael Murphy has deployed three times in the past year, including with both Carl Vinson Strike Group and the Wasp Expeditionary Strike Group.

Last year, Michael Murphy spent more than 200 days underway in the U.S. 3rd Fleet and U.S. 7th Fleet operating areas, conducted eight port visits in five countries and steamed 60,000 nautical miles.


Sailors aboard the Arleigh Burke-Class guided-missile destroyer USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112) prepare to participate in a fueling-at-sea with the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70). U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jasen Morenogarcia/Released)

In 2018 Michael Murphy conducted South China Sea operations; making port visits to Guam and Manila, Republic of the Philippines and conducting Oceania Maritime Security Initiative operations with a U.S. Coast Guard detachment to protect fishing areas and enforce maritime laws.

Recently, Sailors of Michael Murphy represented the Navy at Fleet Week in Portland, Oregon before returning and deploying again.

During Fleet Weeks, the men and women of DDG-112 provided ship tours to thousands of people, including young people who had an opportunity to learn about namesake Navy SEAL Lt. Michael P. Murphy.

In recent weeks we learned that a 14-year-old boy desecrated a memorial plaque in Lt. Michael P. Murphy Park in Lake Ronkonkoma, New York.


The guided-missile destroyer Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Michael Murphy (DDG 112) makes its way through New York Harbor in preparation for its commissioning Oct. 6. The new destroyer honors the late Lt. (SEAL) Michael P. Murphy, a New York native. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Erik Swanson/Released)

While some people reacted with anger and hate, I was heartened to see the reaction of Michael’s parents, Dan and Maureen Murphy. Maureen is USS Michael Murphy’s sponsor.

Maureen Murphy said, “The boy who did this, he’s a child. He did something foolish. And everybody has done something foolish when they’re younger.” Michael’s father, Dan Murphy, said, “Michael was the type of person who would have wanted to take this person under his wing and talk to him. I hope they educate this young man.”

This kind of understanding, forgiveness and compassion is another kind of toughness, a kind all leaders need. It’s easy to see how their son grew to be the man he became.

In “Seal of Honor” author Gary Williams writes, “Michael was able to see both the good and bad in people … He inherently believed the best in people and always gave them the benefit of any doubt.”

When Michael was in the eighth grade – around the age of the teen who vandalized the plaque – he saw a group of boys bullying a special education student, trying to push the child into a locker. Michael stood up to them and got in a fight with several of them. It would not be the last time he would step up to bullies and lead the fight.

That’s when he earned the nickname “the Protector.”

Today, Sailors aboard USS Michael Murphy protect and defend our nation as part of Navy’s living legacy, dedicated to providing security and stability in the name of freedom.


The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112) transits the Philippine Sea . (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Daniel M. Young/Released)


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USS Michael Murphy the Protector

A Sailor’s Experience with Career Intermission Program

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By Lt. Michael FonbuenaLt. Michael Fonbuena

The Career Intermission Program, which originally began as a small-scale pilot, has afforded me the opportunity to seek out an advanced degree at a prestigious university of my choosing while also allowing me the ability to continue my career in the naval service. Overall, I have had an extremely positive experience with CIP and feel that the Navy should strongly advertise this program to junior officers as an alternative means of obtaining graduate education.

As I was midway through my shore tour, I found myself debating a question which many junior officers often find themselves debating: Should I stay in or should I get out? There are many factors which weigh in to such a decision: financial, professional, family, etc. For me, however, the most important factor was the ability to obtain a quality graduate education that aligned with both my academic and professional interests. After researching the options available to me through the Navy, I became extremely discouraged by the lack of diversity in educational opportunities. (To be fair, I was not ready to sign JCSRB at the end of my second sea tour which limited my opportunities, but I feel that can be said of many junior officers who need to experience a shore tour before they are ready to make such a critical decision.)

The only option which truly aligned with my interests was the Pol-Mil Master’s Program.  However, the timing was not likely to work as it would put me at department head school past the seven and a half year mark; also there is only one applicant accepted to a two-year Master’s program each year. One applicant – this is a huge disservice to the Naval Officer Corps. Needless to say, I was discouraged at the opportunities available to me. Then, I discovered CIP after many hours of online searching, and it immediately peaked my interest. The main draw was the ability to continue my career as a department head while also being afforded the opportunity to obtain a Master’s degree of my choosing at an institution of my choosing.

Overall, I have had an extremely positive experience while participating in this program. I have been able to see what life outside of the military is like, I have been re-invigorated by the educational opportunities which have been presented to me, and I feel I have gained many valuable skills which are not traditionally gained in Navy graduate programs and will serve both myself and the Navy well in the long run.  Below are some thoughts on CIP:

Positives:

  • Ability to obtain the degree I desired at a university of my choosing
  • Obtained diverse skills which will be valuable to myself and the Navy in the long run
  • Allowed to use Post 9/11 GI Bill and retained medical/dental benefits
  • Eliminates timing issues regarding career progression

Negatives:

  • Stipend not substantial enough to make sufficient impact in day-to-day life
  • Program not well known to service members
  • Unable to collect YCS 6 JCSRB payment due to program restrictions

Suggestions:

  • Heavily advertise CIP to junior officers, particularly as an alternative vehicle to obtain graduate education
  • Increase the monthly stipend to approximately 1/5 of base pay to create a larger incentive for participation in CIP
  • Develop partnerships with academic institutions to help junior officers get accepted to top-tier Master’s programs while participating in CIP
  • Remove the restriction that do not allow participants to receive CSRB; at minimum, make it so junior officers could retroactively receive any payments they otherwise would be ineligible for because of the existing clause making it ineligible for individuals to participate in CIP while under CSRB. This might make sense in some context, but not for junior officers, who should be primary target group of CIP
  • Work to place members in a position applicable to the Master’s Degree they obtain during CIP – for example, if someone goes to Wharton to obtain their M.B.A., place them in a financial position at the Pentagon immediately upon return to active duty; if a person goes to Harvard Kennedy School to obtain their M.P.P., place them in an OLA or Pol-Mil billet. This will not only leverage the ideas obtained during their studies but also advance the service member professionally and validate them academically.

This has been an extremely valuable program, and I feel that it should be largely expanded from its current scope. It provides the Navy the opportunity to tap into a segment of junior officers who would be extremely valuable to the Navy long-term but might otherwise separate due to a lack of educational opportunities.  I would further recommend the Navy conduct an extensive survey in order to discover what percentage of junior officers across all levels would be encouraged to stay if given the chance to participate in CIP and what would encourage their participation.


Editor’s note: Lt. Michael Fonbuena graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with a degree in history in 2007. At sea, he served as Electro/Auxo in USS Lake Champlain (CG 57) and DCA in USS Benfold (DDG 65), ashore he served as a gas turbine assessor for Engineering Assessments Pacific in San Diego, Calif. He is currently a Master’s of Public Policy candidate at the University of California, Los Angeles and was awarded the Torang Jahan Fellowship for Globalization Studies.

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A Sailor’s Experience with Career Intermission Program