A Navy seal hero and Medal of Honor recipient was remembered in his ancestral Irish county of Cork this weekend at an event attended by fellow Seals and US Ambassador Kevin O’Malley.

U.S. Medal of Honor recipient Lieutenant Michael Murphy was killed in Afghanistan in June 2005 after he exposed himself repeatedly to enemy fire to help his comrades. He and his party of four Seals were surrounded by up to 150 Taliban.

Marcus Luttrell, the only survivor of the Taliban ambush, later wrote the best-selling book “Lone Survivor” about the incident which became a major American film starring Mark Wahlberg.

Irish Veterans, a group that acknowledges Irish victims of all wars honored Murphy in Kinsale at the weekend.

Murphy's parents Dan and Maureen Murphy traveled to Cork for the ceremony. He was a Long Island native.

Lt Murphy’s father, Dan, told the Irish Examiner : “We are absolutely honoured that you want to celebrate his life and that his legacy of service and sacrifice transcends borders.

“We look on it as celebrating Michael’s life of service rather than dwelling on the tragedy of his death.”

He stated he was delighted the event was taking place beside the 9/11 memorial in the town. “Michael and his Seal team wore the patch of the New York fire department engine company 53, ladder company 43, who responded to the Twin Towers attacks, to remind them of why they were in Afghanistan - to stop another 9/11.”

Maureen, whose father is from Mallow and whose mother’s family traces roots in Derry and Armagh, told the paper. “I’m honored that Mike’s name is on the chapter but he was a team player and this veterans group will celebrate all the Irish who have fought in all the different wars,” she said.

It is the first time Lt. Murphy was honored outside the US.

Photo by Patrick J. Hughes

Lieutenant Michael Murphy led a four-man Seal team on a search for a Taliban leader in Afghanistan’s Kunar Province. Shortly into their mission, they were spotted by Taliban forces and a firefight broke out. Vastly outnumbered, around 50-100 Taliban to the 4 Navy Seals, Murphy and his team became pinned down in a steep ravine.

Unable to get a radio signal from their position, Murphy left his cover and exposed himself in order to find a signal to call for help. While making the call, Murphy was shot several times but still managed to give support their position before picking up his rifle and re-joining the fight. 

Sadly, Murphy did not survive his wounds but thanks to his bravery, one member of his team did. Murphy was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, Silver Star, Purple Heart and in 2012, a US Navy Destroyer was named in his honor.

His Medal of Honor citation read:

“While leading a mission to locate a high-level anti-coalition militia leader, Lieutenant Murphy demonstrated extraordinary heroism in the face of grave danger in the vicinity of Asadabad, Kunar Province, Afghanistan. 

"On 28 June 2005, operating in an extremely rugged enemy-controlled area, Lieutenant Murphy's team was discovered by anti-coalition militia sympathizers, who revealed their position to Taliban fighters. As a result, between 30 and 40 enemy fighters besieged his four member team. 

"Demonstrating exceptional resolve, Lieutenant Murphy valiantly led his men in engaging the large enemy force. The ensuing fierce firefight resulted in numerous enemy casualties, as well as the wounding of all four members of the team. Ignoring his own wounds and demonstrating exceptional composure, Lieutenant Murphy continued to lead and encourage his men. 

"When the primary communicator fell mortally wounded, Lieutenant Murphy repeatedly attempted to call for assistance for his beleaguered teammates. Realizing the impossibility of communicating in the extreme terrain, and in the face of almost certain death, he fought his way into open terrain to gain a better position to transmit a call. This deliberate, heroic act deprived him of cover, exposing him to direct enemy fire. Finally achieving contact with his headquarters, Lieutenant Murphy maintained his exposed position while he provided his location and requested immediate support for his team. 

“In his final act of bravery, he continued to engage the enemy until he was mortally wounded, gallantly giving his life for his country and for the cause of freedom. By his selfless leadership, Lieutenant Murphy reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.”

For more information, visit irishveterans.org.