Athletes from across the U.S., including current and former Navy SEALs, participated in the Murph Challenge. NewsdayTV's Drew Scott reports.  Credit: Newsday/Kendall Rodriguez

Lt. Cmdr. Kaj Larsen has endured the Murph Challenge — a regimen of 100 pullups, 200 pushups and 300 air squats sandwiched between two 1-mile runs — since he met Patchogue’s Michael Murphy during their Navy SEAL training days.

“We went for a workout within five minutes of meeting each other,” Larsen, a former SEAL, said minutes before running with an American flag in hand Saturday morning. “We ran down to the pullup bars at the SEAL compound that was about a mile from our barracks room. … Then we ran back to our barracks room from the compound, which was another mile.

"Forever thereafter when we went into operational SEAL teams, when Mike and I would hang out, if I would visit him [while stationed] in Hawaii or he was back in San Diego, we’d do some form of that workout.”

Larsen was one of more than 200 CrossFit athletes and veterans who descended upon the LT Michael P. Murphy SEAL Museum in West Sayville on Saturday for the annual fitness fundraiser, which this year raised money for scholarships, future museum exhibits and organizations that help veterans with traumatic brain injuries.

The museum, as well as the LT Michael P. Murphy Memorial Scholarship Foundation, honors the Patchogue native killed in Afghanistan nearly 19 years ago and posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military decoration.

On Saturday, Daniel Murphy of Wading River — who visits his son’s grave at Calverton National Cemetery twice weekly — said he wants those completing the “absolutely horrendous workout” to honor “all the fallen heroes who died protecting this country.”

After completing the Murph Challenge, participants cheered as the museum unveiled its newest monument, which honors 11 Navy SEAL combat assault dogs who died in service or training. A bronze Belgian Malinois sits atop an onyx base boasting names and photographs of the dogs.

Although her son never served alongside K-9s, Maureen Murphy said he loved dogs throughout his life, especially Blackie, a cross between a collie and “whatever jumped over the fence,” who was quite attached to her son.

“These dogs are so brave,” Maureen Murphy said of the combat assault dogs. “I think they should be treated as heroes too. … Even though they have four paws, they save lives.”

On June 28, 2005, the museum’s namesake and three SEALs under his command conducted Operation Red Wings, a search for a Taliban-aligned terrorist leader in the Hindu Kush mountains near the Pakistan border. Murphy and two SEALs under his command, along with eight additional SEALs and eight Army “Night Stalker” special forces personnel who tried to rescue them, were killed.

Murphy has been immortalized in a biography and subsequent film. In 2011, the U.S. Navy dubbed a destroyer in Murphy's name.

At the start of Saturday’s festivities, the museum honored repeat visitor Finn Schiavone for his “courage, perseverance and never-quit attitude.” Months after a 2022 wrestling practice injury, the 15-year-old Bay Shore resident’s ability to read, speak and walk declined. His family believes his visits to the LT Michael P. Murphy SEAL Museum engendered his continued holistic recovery.

“This has been an amazing motivation for him,” Mary Mehler, Finn’s godmother, said, holding back tears. “He is working to recover to become a Navy SEAL. He pushes himself and pushes himself every day.”

NCC faculty suing school … MacArthur new flights … Going for the gold Credit: Newsday

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NCC faculty suing school … MacArthur new flights … Going for the gold Credit: Newsday

Riverhead teachers protest ... NCC faculty suing school ... Primary day ... Jones Beach adds new artists

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