Remembering Lt. Michael “Mike” Murphy ’98

April 4, 2011 at 8:39 am Leave a comment

Anyone familiar with the story of Lt. Michael Murphy ’98 knows the courage and sacrifice of the Navy SEAL who died in Afghanistan in 2005. But those who attended Medal of Honor: The Life of Michael P. Murphy Saturday know another side of the Medal of Honor recipient.

The talk was presented by the class of 2011, whose senior class gift is the creation of the Lt. Michael P. Murphy and Penn State Veterans Plaza, construction of which will begin within the next two years. Speakers included author Gary Williams, who wrote Seal  of Honor: Operation Red Wings and the Life of Lt. Michael P. Murphy, USN, along with Murphy’s parents, Dan and Maureen.

Dan and Maureen Murphy (center) shared stories about their son at Saturday's presentation. Photo by Andy Colwell.

Much of the presentation was spent honoring Murphy as a leader and loyal SEAL, but Dan and Maureen made sure the audience, along with the senior class, knew Murphy (they call him “Mike”) as a person—and a Penn State student. Some anecdotes they shared:

—Mike was always the ring leader, even as a child, explained Maureen. “All the kids in the neighborhood would gather around him on summer afternoons, asking ‘What are we gonna do now, Mike?'”

—He loved to party. Dan had the audience in stitches when he recounted the time Mike called with news that his car had broken down in Virginia on the way to Panama City for spring break: “I said, ‘Ok, just stay there, I’ll come pick you up.’ And Mike said, ‘No, I’m not in Virginia. I got bus tickets for me and the guys. We’re on the way to Panama City.’”

—Mike hated having his picture taken. There’s only one formal picture of him in uniform, and you’ll always see him hiding in the back in group shots.

—He was a loyal friend. After a late night out, Mike got an early-morning phone call from a buddy who was stuck in Maryland and needed a ride home. “Without skipping a beat, Mike was out the door and on the way,” says Maureen.

—He was humble. In an emotional moment, Dan choked up explaining how, as a Little League baseball player, Mike hit a final-inning home run that won the game. When the team rushed the field screaming, “You did it! You won it for us!” Mike calmly credited his teammates who got on base and gave him the opportunity to hit the winning ball. “He made sure the team knew that they all won the game.”

Though the location for the Veterans Plaza is yet to be determined, 2,656 seniors have already pledged more than $240,000 toward the gift. Fundraising ends in December, and the class of 2011 is on track to break the record for the highest amount raised for a single class gift.

For more information about the 2011 Senior Class Gift, visit

Mary Murphy, associate editor

Entry filed under: University Park. Tags: , , .

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