Operation Red Wings; From Tragedy Comes a Ship of Strength
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 a Navy SEAL who died along with 18 other members of special operations forces during an operation deep behind enemy lines in Afghanistan. USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112) 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, 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 was established and named for him.
Watch this video for more about Michael Murphy, the man, the ship and the crew.
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)