Image: Michael P. Murphy
U.S. Navy via AP file
Navy SEAL Lt. Michael P. Murphy was killed while leading a reconnaissance mission deep behind enemy lines in Afghanistan in June 2005.
updated 10/11/2007 8:32:44 PM ET 2007-10-12T00:32:44

A Navy SEAL who was killed while leading a reconnaissance mission in Afghanistan will receive the nation’s highest military award, the Medal of Honor.

Lt. Michael P. Murphy, 29, of Patchogue on Long Island, is the first Medal of Honor recipient for combat in Afghanistan, the Navy said in a statement Thursday.

In late June 2005, Murphy led a four-man reconnaissance mission east of Asadabad trying to find a key Taliban leader in advance of a mission to capture or destroy the local militia leadership. Taliban sympathizers alerted fighters to the SEALs’ positions, and the four men were quickly outnumbered and came under fire, the Navy said.

Even after being wounded, Murphy crawled into the open to make a radio call for help and still continued to fight, the Navy said. The call ultimately allowed the rescue of one wounded SEAL and the recoveries of the bodies of Murphy and two others killed in the firefight.

President Bush will present the Medal of Honor to Murphy’s parents at the White House on Oct. 22.

“I think it is a public recognition of what we knew about Michael, of his intensity, his focus, his devout loyalty to home and family, his country and especially to his SEAL teammates and the SEAL community,” Murphy’s father, Daniel Murphy, told Newsday for a story published on its Web site.

Highest military honor for valor
The Medal of Honor is the nation’s highest military award for valor in action against an enemy force. Murphy is the fourth Navy SEAL to receive the medal and the first since Vietnam.

The other two SEALs killed in the Afghan firefight, Petty Officer 2nd Class Danny P. Dietz, 25, of Littleton, Colo., and Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew G. Axelson, 29, of Cupertino, Calif., previously received the Navy Cross, the second-highest honor.

A U.S. helicopter that went to rescue the SEALs was shot down by enemy fire; 16 SEALs and Army special operations troops were killed in the crash.

The entire battle resulted in the worst single-day loss of life for Navy Special Warfare personnel since World War II.

Two Medals of Honor have been awarded posthumously in the Iraq war.

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