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USS Michael Murphy: 'Thrilling' ride for family

Maureen Murphy, the mother of slain Navy Seal

Maureen Murphy, the mother of slain Navy Seal and Medal of Honor recipient Michael Murphy, speaks with crew members of the USS Michael Murphy, named for her son. (Oct. 1, 2012) Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

The USS Michael Murphy made its way up New York Harbor Monday morning, past the national wound that inspired the ship's namesake to give his life hunting down America's enemies.

Aboard ship was the family of Lt. Michael P. Murphy, a Navy SEAL who was killed in Afghanistan seven years ago while leading a four-member stealth squad that had been pursuing a Taliban leader in a lawless region near the Pakistani border.

"This is why he did what he did," said Murphy's father, Dan Murphy, as the 509-foot destroyer passed Ground Zero, site of the 9/11 terror attacks in 2001. "To make sure it doesn't happen again."

President George W. Bush posthumously awarded Murphy, 29, a 1994 graduate of Patchogue-Medford High School, the Medal of Honor -- the nation's highest military honor, and the first awarded to a member of the Navy since the Vietnam War -- at a 2007 White House ceremony attended by Murphy's parents.

Monday, on the twinkling waters of the Hudson River and under a brilliant blue sky, his relatives escorted the ship to a berth on Manhattan's West Side, where it is to be commissioned into the U.S. fleet at a Saturday ceremony.

"It's thrilling, it really is," said Murphy's mother, Maureen Murphy, of Patchogue, who was invited by the ship's captain to make the short cruise from Staten Island on the bridge of the Navy's newest ship. "In my heart, I have no doubt that Mike is here with us."

Murphy, 29, and the three other SEALS were surrounded by a much larger Taliban force on a rugged mountainside. Rather than see his men killed, Murphy sacrificed himself in a futile effort to call for help.

Saturday's commissioning will bestow upon Murphy's legacy the rare Navy honor of having his name adorn a ship of the fleet. The U.S. fleet, which Navy spokesman David Hostetler said has 287 ships and submarines, is mostly named after states, cities, famous battles or presidents.

Monday's arrival of the 7,134-ton ship marked the first of a weeklong salute to Murphy by the Navy, to be culminated at Saturday's 10 a.m. commissioning. Murphy's family will participate in the ceremonial 9:30 a.m. opening of the New York Stock Exchange Tuesday, then will escort members of the ship's crew during a 3 p.m. visit to Murphy's grave site at Calverton National Cemetery in Riverhead.

On Thursday, Murphy's family members are scheduled to attend an invitation-only reception aboard the ship with relatives and guests of the individuals who participated in Operation Red Wings, the ill-fated reconnaissance mission that claimed Murphy's life. On Friday, the Navy will host a VIP tour of the ship.

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