Michael P. Murphy graduated from Penn State University in 2000 with a double major in political science and psychology.
The 24-year-old Long Island native was talking about then heading off to law school next.
Instead, Murphy surprised his family and girlfriend by following his dream of becoming a Navy SEAL.
But then, Murphy’s military career took a turn when America was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001.
Four years later, Murphy was wrapping up his fourth deployment and was getting ready to wed his girlfriend of five years, Heather, in November.
But that all changed on June 28, 2005.
Murphy, along with three of his fellow teammates, Matthew G. Axelson, Danny Dietz, and Marcus Luttrell, had their position compromised in the rugged mountains of Afghanistan.
A battle ensued.
The SEAL team was pinned down by the heavy enemy fire.
In a courageous and selfless act of heroism, Murphy exposed himself from cover to gain radio communication with the team’s quick action response force.
The message was sent.
Murphy was killed at the age of 29, along with 18 other service members, during the tragic events of Operation Red Wing.
But his story may have never been properly told if it wasn’t for one man’s will to survive against the odds, Marcus Luttrell.
The book “Lone Survivor,” written by Luttrell in 2007 and later turned into a movie in 2013, recounted Murphy’s heroic last-ditch effort to save his team.
Now, nearly 10 miles away from Murphy’s Long Island hometown of Patchogue, The Lt. Michael P. Murphy Navy SEAL Museum opened in Sayville on June 28 – after five years in the making and 17 years to the day of Operation Red Wing.
The second Navy SEAL museum in the country, the museum honors SEALs who have served and paid the ultimate sacrifice serving our country.
“It was never about Michael. As a family unit, it was a conscious decision not to make this about Michael,” his father, Daniel Murphy, told the Post. “It’s about the Navy Seals, the Navy Seal experience, and the history of Naval Special Warfare from the UDTs up through the present time.”
The Medal of Honor, the U.S. military’s highest decoration awarded posthumously to Murphy’s parents, sits on display upon entry. Above it is a portrait of Murphy with a quote his parents said he lived by: “Education will set you free.”
Paying tribute to the many organizations that helped contribute to the museum’s creation is the “Heart of the Museum” wall.
Thanks to generous donations of time, labor, and materials, the museum, which should have cost $5 million dollars to build, was cut down to $2 million, Daniel Murphy said.
Exhibits range from the SEALs’ early roots in World War II to the Underwater Demolition Teams during the Korean War, to their official creation during the Vietnam War, and to the killing of Osama Bin Laden by SEAL Team Six.
The museum has a vast display of weaponry and gear used by the teams, interactive exhibits, and even SEAL Adventure Ride.
“It’s amazing talking with the youth of today, where they’re showing excitement and interest in history, the military, and being a Seal,” said Chris Willey, the museum’s director and retired Navy SEAL.
Operation Redwing has its own section in the museum. A terrain model detailing the sequence of events of that tragic day sits in the center of the room. Off to the side, a small screen plays the documentary “Murphy the Protector.”
“It’s stories about Mike personally, and they wanna know more about him,” said his mother, Maureen Murphy. “That’s the impact he had. They felt like Mike was their son. Their Long Island son.”
Murphy’s picture and 314 other Navy SEALs killed in action or during training are spread out on “The Cost of Freedom” wall.
The facility also functions as the Lt. Michael Murphy Division of the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps. An organization for youths ages 11 through 17 to learn leadership values and gives back to the community by volunteering.
“I hope what guests take away from it is ‘I’m part of a community of Americans who cherish and value freedom,’” Daniel Murphy said. “And ‘I have that because of the people that are represented on these walls.’”