Congressional Medal Of Honor Winner Is Soldier To Remember On Memorial Day

Dinner Honors heroism of Navy Seals and Congressional Medal of Honor Winner
Congressional Medal of Honor Winner is Soldier to Remember on Memorial Day
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On June 28th, 2005, Navy Seal Michael Murphy and his outfit were tracking a high level Taliban operative in Afghanistan when their cover was blown. They were soon surrounded and a massive firefight ensued. Their only chance of survival was if someone could transmit a message back to base from an open location. Unfortunately, that person would be completely exposed to enemy fire. As team leader, Lt Murphy assumed responsibility, and unlike in the movies, heroism isn't always rewarded with waving flags and a valiant homecoming.

"They know that they may be called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice and

we see, time and time again, that sacrifice is made routinely," said Phil Criste, who's doing his part next month to help remember the dying heroics of this Long Island Medal of Honor Winner. On October 2nd 2008, Mt. Kisco Country Club is holding a fundraising golf outing to benefit The Naval Special Forces Warfare Foundation. Afterwards, an informative discussion about the role of the Special Forces in the Global War on Terror will take place featuring Rear Admiral (Seal) Tom Richards.

Of course, the heroics of Lt. Murphy will certainly be up for discussion and the bravery connected to the mission does not end there, but neither, unfortunately, does the tragedy. After completing his transmission and before succumbing to his wounds, a second special forces team responded by helicopter with an extremely dangerous day time rescue. Piloted by Major Stephen Reich, all 16 members of the crew were killed as an enemy grenade entered the chopper before they could engage in the fight. Ultimately, Seal Marcus Luttrell of the original force was the only survivor.

Mr. Christe's connection to the event dates back three years to first reading about Lt. Murphy and the 2005 mission, which is recorded as the highest casualty figure in Seal history. A few years later, after his son entered West Point, Mr. Christe came across the story again - only this time learning the name of Major Reich. Feeling sympathy and a connection now that his son had joined the academy, he said, "I just called up the father one afternoon and had a very nice conversation, expressing my condolences."

Turning the clock forward, Mr. Christe received word that

his friend and Naval Reserve officer Roger Froehlich was organizing an event to honor Michael Murphy. Having struck a friendship with Mr. Reich, the Connecticut resident naturally saw the chance to connect the loose ends and bring both families together in celebration. "It's not going to be a funeral, it's going to be an event to honor and inform the public about the role of Special Operations in the Global War on Terror," he said.

Adding to the information will be the presence of former press secretary, Ari Fleischer, who Mr. Christe went to high school with. I was able to enlarge the program a little bit, said Mr. Christe modestly of his role, but he reserves none of that sentiment for Reich and Murphy.

In the Baltimore Orioles' farm system, Steven Reich gave up a baseball career to join the night stalkers and Michael Murphy exemplified a simple decency at the end that might not always come across from media coverage of military personnel. On the phone, "As he was dying, he said thank you," said Mr. Criste.

Even more compelling is how that same humanity imbued by military training put the original mission in jeopardy. Several goat herders came across their position and the four Seals voted to let them go. In all likelihood, these civilians alerted the Taliban and compromised the situation. "They let them go at great peril to themselves. What does that speak to," he asked.

Nonetheless, Mr. Christe sees this as a chance to put the politics aside and add some insight to the various points of view we all hold. It's a unique opportunity to get these people together, hear their stories and ask questions, he concluded.

For a more in depth account, "Lone Survivor" by Marcus Luttrell's is currently a best seller and will soon be made into film.


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