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June 29, 2015 / iDriveWarships

Operation Red Wings; From Tragedy Comes a Ship of Strength

121121-N-WX059-089  PACIFIC OCEAN (Nov. 21, 2012) The guided-missile destroyer USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112) steams off the coast of Oahu on the way to its new homeport of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for the first time. The new destroyer honors Lt. (SEAL) Michael P. Murphy, a New York native who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in combat as leader of a four-man reconnaissance team in Afghanistan. Murphy was the first person to be awarded the medal for actions in Afghanistan, and the first member of the U.S. Navy to receive the award since the Vietnam War. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean Furey/Released)

U.S. Navy destroyers bear the names of Navy and Marine Corps heroes who served during both war and peace since the birth of our great nation. The famous names include Halsey, Decatur, Gridley, Stockdale, Hopper, John Paul Jones, and so many others.

In recent history, few names resonate more with Americans than that of Lt. Michael Murphy [http://1.usa.gov/1LLqM5w] a Navy SEAL who died along with 18 other members of special operations forces during an operation deep behind enemy lines in Afghanistan [http://1.usa.gov/1LBePSQ]. USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112) [http://1.usa.gov/1TSIKst], bears his name.

Ten years ago on June 28, 2005, Murphy and three other highly trained Navy SEALs went on reconnaissance mission Operation Red Wings. After being spotted by locals who are presumed to have told Taliban forces of their presence, the SEALs faced a three-sided attack from more than 50 anti-coalition militia fighters that drove the team deeper into a ravine. Within 45 minutes each SEAL was wounded and communication petty officer, Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class (SEAL) Danny P. Dietz, had his hand shot and thumb shattered while trying to send a distress call.

Wanting to get his men out, Murphy disregarded his own safety and moved in to the open to gain a better position to transmit a call. This left him open to enemy fire but once in position he calmly made contact with the Special Operating Forces, Quick Reaction Force at Bagram Air Base and requested assistance. An MH-47 Chinook helicopter carrying eight more SEALs and eight Army Night Stalkers came to help.

Despite having beaten the heavily-armored, Army attack helicopters to the scene, which typically neutralize hot zones before they would enter, the extraction team chose to try and land on the hazardous terrain instead of wait for them because they knew their wounded brothers needed them. While approaching a rocket-propelled grenade struck the Chinook, killing all 16 men aboard.

Within a two-hour gunfight Murphy, Dietz and Sonar Technician (Surface) 2nd Class (SEAL) Matthew G. Axelson were killed and an estimated 35 Taliban fighters were also dead. The remaining team member, gravely wounded Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class (SEAL) Marcus Luttrell, managed to escape and evade the enemy for nearly a day. He traveled seven miles before local villagers aided and shielded him from the Taliban until his extraction by U.S. forces July 2, 2005.

Murphy, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his selfless actions [http://1.usa.gov/1BTx1nY], became the namesake of DDG 112, homeported in Hawaii. Cmdr. Todd Hutchison, the ship’s current commanding officer said, “You only have to spend a few minutes onboard to realize that the crew has a special connection to not only our namesake, but to all those involved in Operation Red Wings.

From the ship’s crest, to the Wall of Heroes with plaques representing those that gave their lives during the operation, to the Medal of Honor on the Mess Decks, Lt. Murphy and Operation Red Wings are never far from the thoughts of every crewmember onboard, new or old.

We strive every day, and will for as long as USS Michael Murphy is in commission, to faithfully represent the ideals and unblemished character of the 19 men who lost their lives on June 28, 2005 in the Hindu Kush mountains – for our freedom. NEVER FORGET.”

Murphy was also recognized in Kinsale, Ireland where the first Irish Veterans Post [http://1.usa.gov/1FFXDUe] was established and named for him.

To learn more about Michael Murphy, the man, the ship and the crew please see: http://1.usa.gov/1OPWyi5.


121121-N-WX059-089  PACIFIC OCEAN (Nov. 21, 2012) The guided-missile destroyer USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112) steams off the coast of Oahu on the way to its new homeport of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for the first time. The new destroyer honors Lt. (SEAL) Michael P. Murphy, a New York native who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in combat as leader of a four-man reconnaissance team in Afghanistan. Murphy was the first person to be awarded the medal for actions in Afghanistan, and the first member of the U.S. Navy to receive the award since the Vietnam War. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean Furey/Released)U.S. Navy Photo: 121121-N-WX059-089  PACIFIC OCEAN (Nov. 21, 2012) The guided-missile destroyer USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112) steams off the coast of Oahu on the way to its new homeport of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for the first time. The new destroyer honors Lt. (SEAL) Michael P. Murphy, a New York native who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in combat as leader of a four-man reconnaissance team in Afghanistan. Murphy was the first person to be awarded the medal for actions in Afghanistan, and the first member of the U.S. Navy to receive the award since the Vietnam War. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean Furey/Released) http://1.usa.gov/1GLsT5N 

June 19, 2015 / iDriveWarships

Admiral Speaks of Progress and Possibilities at 2015 Joint Women’s Leadership Symposium

Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Vice Admiral Thomas S. Rowden chats with participants of the 28th Annual Joint Women's Leadership Symposium June 11, 2015.

Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Vice Adm. Thomas S. Rowden chats with participants of the 28th Annual Joint Women’s Leadership Symposium June 11, 2015.

More than 750 men and women from all military services recently gathered for the 28th Annual Joint Women’s Leadership Symposium in San Diego. The event, put on by the national non-profit organization Sea Service Leadership Association (SSLA), focused on current issues facing women in the military through the theme “Progress and Possibilities: Embrace Our Future Now.” The symposium included discussion forums, questions-and-answer panels, interactive workshops, and multiple military and civilian speakers.

Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Vice Adm. Thomas S. Rowden spoke to the group and shared how he’s personally seen progress and possibilities for sea service leaders as the U.S. Navy has moved toward equality over time.

First, he related his experience as the commanding officer aboard USS Milius (DDG 69) during a time when there were only a few women, and even fewer women who were in leadership positions. During that tour he saw the ship’s first female Chief Petty Officer join the ‘Goat Locker.’ He also saw her save the career, and likely the life, of a young, male subordinate. This was important because it demonstrated to the crew that a female can be an impactful leader and mentor, with the ability to change lives, without being like her [male] subordinates. That was 15 years ago, he said. Today it’s commonplace to see women in powerful leadership and mentor positions throughout the Navy. That’s progress.

During the second story, Rowden told how in 1988 a promising young naval flight officer was discharged because the UCMJ rules of 1950, and the 1982 Defense Directive for Sexual Orientation, determined that he could no longer serve simply because he was gay. Despite his demonstrated talent as an aviator he was discharged just for being who he was. Thankfully that young man was able to successfully navigate the unplanned career change. He went on to earn his PhD and continues to have a very successful civilian career.

While many people were prohibited from serving under the previous directive, Rowden reflected that now brave men and woman serve openly, without the fear of being discharged. He added that even though it took time, the Navy did change. That’s progress. He pointed out that as the country’s policies have changed, the military has been on the bow wave of that change and as a maturing organization in the midst of challenging times, we cannot turn our back on any youth with potential and must not relent in efforts to manage talent for the future. That opens the door to possibility.

While Rowden admits the Navy of today is still a male-dominated organization with progress to make, it also offers clear paths of opportunity as well. For instance: all new ships are built to accommodate females, a dozen commanding officers of surface combatants are women, there’s growing success for female enlisted and officers, as well as minorities, as they lean forward and excel as leaders. They’re all paving the way for the future, leaning in, and leading the way. As women work to lay the foundation, Rowden encouraged them to mentor others, even though they may not be like them, and to demonstrate their will, prowess, bravery, and patience as leaders because they can make a difference, or save a life.

For more information about the Sea Service Leadership Association check them out on the web at www.sealeader.org.

May 7, 2015 / iDriveWarships

Wayne E. Meyer Awarded Spokane Trophy

Retired Chief Warrant Officer 4 Bruce Rasche, from the Spokane, Wash., Council of the Navy League, speaks to the crew of USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) on the forecastle of the ship.

The crew of the guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) was awarded the prestigious 2014 Spokane Trophy today during a ceremony on the ship’s flight deck.

The Spokane Trophy is an annual award sponsored by the Spokane, Wash., Council of the Navy League of the United States and is presented to the Pacific Fleet surface ship with the highest level of operational readiness in areas ranging from coordinated air warfare, surface warfare and undersea warfare operations.

A plaque was presented to the Wayne E. Meyer crew by retired Navy Chief Warrant Officer Bruce Rasche on behalf of the Spokane Navy League.

Competing against 10 other ships from the U.S. Pacific Fleet, Wayne E. Meyer came out above the rest and received the award for demonstrating excellence in combat system’s readiness and warfare operations. The crew excelled in all areas of operational readiness during a highly successful deployment to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility, setting new standards for others to follow.

The award was established in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt to recognize naval warfighting proficiency. The actual trophy, created from 400 ounces of silver, was created by veterans of the Spanish-American War and cost $1,500. Due to level of prestige the trophy has gained from the ships who have won the award, the trophy was appraised in excess of $4 million. The trophy was donated by the Navy League and is kept on permanent display at the Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet headquarters building in San Diego.

May 1, 2015 / iDriveWarships

Future USS John Finn to be Christened

Lt. John Finn (Ret.) pays his respects to the Sailors and Marines killed aboard USS Arizona during the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor

From the first U.S. Navy destroyer commissioned in 1902, to the famous ships of World War II, to today’s Arleigh Burke class, the navy’s destroyers continue to evolve. Tomorrow we will introduce the newest guided-missile destroyer, the future USS John Finn (DDG 113), during a christening ceremony at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss.

Here are 10 things to know about the future USS John Finn and her namesake, John William Finn:

1. The future USS John Finn is the 63rd Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, and the first of the DDG 51 Flight IIA restart ships.

2. The destroyer was named in honor of Lt. John William Finn, who as a Chief Petty Officer served at Naval Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, Territory of Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941 during the Japanese air raid that struck that facility and others on Oahu.

3. While under heavy machine gun fire, chief aviation ordnanceman Finn manned a .50-caliber machinegun mounted on an instruction stand in a completely exposed section of the parking ramp. Painfully wounded multiple times, he had to be convinced to leave his post. After receiving first aid treatment, he overcame the severe pain of his injuries and returned to the squadron area to supervise the rearming of returning planes.

4. DDG 113 will be capable of engaging in air, surface and subsurface battles simultaneously and will contain a myriad of offensive and defensive weapons designed to support maritime warfare including Integrated Air and Missile Defense capabilities.

5. DDG 113 will be equipped with the Navy’s Aegis Combat System, the world’s foremost integrated naval weapons system.

6. At age 100, Finn was the oldest surviving recipient of the nation’s highest medal for valor, and the only recipient still alive among those who received the medal for actions during the attacks on Pearl Harbor.

7. In June 1942, Finn was temporarily commissioned as an Ensign, rising in rank to Lieutenant two years later.

8. USS John Finn will be able to conduct a variety of operations from peacetime presence and crisis management, to sea control and power projection.

9. John William Finn passed away on May 27, 2010.

10. As part of the DDG 51 Flight IIA ships, Finn will provide increased capabilities over previous flights of Arleigh Burke destroyers, including advances in anti-submarine warfare, command and control, and anti-surface warfare.

 

*This post originally appeared on the Navy Live blog.

April 23, 2015 / iDriveWarships

SURFPAC Announces 2014 SWO of the Year

LCDR JOHNSON

Congratulations to the 2014 Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (SURFPAC) Surface Warfare Officer (SWO) of the Year, LCDR Matthew Johnson, Weapons Officer on USS Dewey (DDG 105)!

This award recognizes the SWO who best personifies the ideals of SWO pride, to include excellence in warfighting, leadership and mission accomplishment through superior professionalism and personal example.

Everyone nominated for this elite award is to be commended for their dedication and demonstrated superior performance. This year’s nominees include:

LCDR David Garrett, USS America (LHA 6)
LCDR Jamie Diaz, LCS Crew 103 (LCS 3)
LCDR Katie Jacobson, USS Preble (DDG 88)
LCDR Marcus Seeger, USS John S. McCain (DDG 56)
LCDR Robert Neuerman, USS Makin Island (LHA 5)
LCDR Ryan Hernandez, USS Chancellorsville (CG 62)
LCDR William Fensterer, USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112)
LT Adrienne Roseti, USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108)
LT Christopher Descovich, USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53)
LT David Smith, USS Germantown (LSD 42)
LT Joseph Bubulka, USS Dextrous (MCM 14)
LT Kathleen Ball, USS Mobile Bay (CG 53)
LT Tammi Ballinger, USS Green Bay (LPD 20)

April 17, 2015 / iDriveWarships

Last West Coast Frigate Returns from Final Deployment

USS Gary arrives at Naval Base San Diego

Today, Navy frigate USS Gary (FFG 51) returned to Naval Base San Diego from its final deployment prior to decommissioning, marking the final deployment of a frigate in the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

During the seven-month deployment, Gary operated in U.S. 3rd Fleet and U.S. 4th Fleet area of operations with the embarked “Scorpions” of Helicopter Maritime Strike (HSM) 49 Detachment 4, and a U.S. Coast Guard law enforcement detachment (LEDET). The team played an integral role in Operation Martillo.

Operation Martillo is a U.S., European and Western Hemisphere partner nation effort launched in January 2012 targeting illicit trafficking routes in coastal waters along the Central American isthmus. Partner nations work together to counter the spread of transnational criminal organizations, and to protect citizens in Central America from the violence, harm and exploitation created by these criminal groups.

The team successfully interdicted 13,921 kilograms of cocaine with a wholesale value of $278.4 million, and 18 pounds of marijuana valued at $17,100.

A decommissioning ceremony for Gary is scheduled for this summer. Following the ceremony, the ship is slated for foreign military sales.

HSM-49 Detachment 4 flew more than 700 hours of flight operations throughout the deployment, and their return to Naval Air Station North Island yesterday marks the last active-duty deployment of the SH-60B Seahawk. The sundown ceremony for the SH-60B is scheduled for May 11.

Click here to view photos of the Gary homecoming.

April 9, 2015 / iDriveWarships

Want to Get Underway?

USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) makes a turn while underway in the Pacific Ocean

By CDR Matt Kawas, Commanding Officer of USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) Crew 103

U.S. Navy Sailors have sailed the open seas, around the world, around the clock for the past 239 years. But have you ever wondered what it’s like to be on a warship in the middle of the ocean? Are you curious what we see as we cruise along the waves at night? Have you ever wanted to tour a U.S. Navy ship but have not yet had the opportunity? Well, now you don’t have to look any further than your computer screen or mobile device to get a glimpse of what life is like for us on the high seas.

On April 10, 2015 at 11 a.m. EDT, I invite you to join my crew and I for a live tour of the littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) as we operate in the waters of Southeast Asia. Under the glow of the red night lights, you’ll get a 30-minute tour inside the “skin” of the ship, and will have the chance to interact with the Sailors who operate Fort Worth. It’s an opportunity you won’t want to miss, so make sure to post questions for our Sailors on the Navy’s social media and watch the tour on Friday by going to the Navy’s Google+ Page, YouTube Channel, or Navy Live blog.

UPDATE: Watch the full video here.

*This post originally appeared on the Navy Live blog.

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