USS Michael Murphy commissioned in Manhattan
They were the words his father knew would bring him to tears. Words his mother wondered whether she could muster the grit to utter aloud.
Seven years after her son perished in a desperate battle on an Afghanistan mountainside, the mother of slain Navy SEAL Michael Murphy Saturday ordered the crew of a warship named in his honor to breathe life into its 9,200 tons of steel and firepower.
"Officers and crew of USS Michael Murphy, man our ship and bring her to life," a beaming Maureen Murphy, of Patchogue, said from the deck of the Navy's newest guided-missile destroyer.
On her command, the 290-member crew sprinted to positions on the deck of the naval escort. The ship's radar antennae began to twirl. A long and sonorous blast of the ship's whistle reverberated through Manhattan's West Side docks.
With that ceremonial flourish, the warship was commissioned.
"Murph, I'm glad to see you ride into battle again," said Adm. William McRaven, head of the U.S. Special Operations Command.
In 2008, then-Navy Secretary Donald C. Winter announced he would name the ship -- an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer -- in recognition of the 29-year-old lieutenant's bravery.
Murphy, a 1994 graduate of Patchogue-Medford High School, had been commanding a four-man reconnaissance team in pursuit of a heavily guarded Taliban leader when they were attacked by dozens of enemy fighters. Murphy suffered mortal wounds when he sacrificed himself in an effort to get help for his men.
In addition to Murphy and two other SEALs killed on the ground that day in 2005, eight SEALS and eight Army "Night Stalker" special forces personnel were killed when their rescue helicopter was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade.
Two years later, Murphy was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor at a White House ceremony.
Heralded by a booming 19-gun salute, the hourlong commissioning ceremony Saturday drew hundreds of guests and more than a dozen military leaders and elected officials.
Among them were Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, Sen. Charles Schumer, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Reps. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) and Peter King (R-Seaford). Murphy's father, Dan, of Wading River, and brother, John, of Patchogue, sat among the dignitaries.
The dockside ceremony took place a few hundred yards from where Murphy enlisted into the Navy aboard the USS Intrepid in 2000 and on the eve of Sunday's 11th anniversary of the start of the war in Afghanistan.
The lone survivor of the 2005 battle, former SEAL Marcus Luttrell, watched the proceedings from seats on the pier, along with scores of Murphy's friends, family and military comrades.
Former SEAL Jim Quattromani, now a St. Louis attorney, last saw Murphy on the tarmac of an airfield in Afghanistan not long before the fateful battle. Quattromani's unit was leaving Afghanistan. Murphy's unit had arrived from its base in Hawaii to replace them.
Saturday, he said Murphy would have been embarrassed by the attention his heroism has earned him.
"I wish he could be here," Quattromani said. "But to know he will serve as an inspiration to the members of the crew, to know that his name will live on, is some solace to his family and his friends."
USS Michael Murphy
Type of ship: guided-missile destroyer
Length: 509 feet
Engines: four gas turbines generating 100,000 shaft horsepower
Biggest weapon: 96 cruise missiles
Top speed: 30-plus knots
Mission: fleet escort; combat vessel