Lt. Michael Murphy and Operation Red Wings
Newsday's Jeff Schamberry recently approached me about covering the commissioning of USS Michael Murphy, a Navy destroyer named after a Long Islander. I hadn't been on a ship since leaving the Navy in 99, I was intrigued about the story and accepted.
Michael Murphy, of Patchogue, joined the Navy in 2000, went to Officer Candidate School and then to BUDS for SEAL training. He was stationed in Hawaii, Florida, Africa and finally Afghanistan. In 2005, he was killed while in support of Operation Red Wings tasked with locating anti-coalition military members near Asadabad. His role in the mission earned him the Medal of Honor which was presented to his parents, Maureen and Daniel, by President Bush at The White House in 2007. In 2008 the keel of the DDG-112 was laid down and the ship was named in honor of Michael Murphy by the Secretary of the Navy, Donald C. Winter. The ship was christened in 2011 and finally commissioned in October of 2012.
I first saw the ship in Staten Island, where I would meet Micheal’s parents and key military personnel. We boarded the ship and sailed up the Hudson River. The ship was docked next to the USS Intrepid, where it would be commissioned later in the week. I was taken back speaking to Daniel Murphy. His interview was amazing, especially poignant while sailing past the 9/11 site in New York City. Daniel reflected on his son’s intentions for joining the Navy and aspirations to become a SEAL. This was a memorable moment that without question would be in the final video.
Day two started at the Calverton National Cemetery where we met the ship’s crew at Michael’s final resting place. Several spoke and there were sad and proud moments. Both Maureen and Daniel thanked everyone for their time and not forgetting their son. Our second stop for the day was a road dedication ceremony. There the national cemetery named a road in honor of Michael. Our final stop was in Ronkonkoma where Michael swam while training for Basic Underwater Demolition School, otherwise known as BUDS. Stories were told, chow was eaten at the VFW across the street and the day finished with fireworks for all.
My final day on the assignment was back in Manhattan where the ship would be commissioned into active duty. Several hundred arrived, including Marcus Luttrell, the single survivor from the mission in 2005 that killed 19 Navy and Army personnel. The Navy's top brass spoke, including Admiral William McRaven. Maureen finished the ceremony asking the ship's sailors to “bring her to life”.
There was a tremendous amount of footage from this project. I had the privilege that Newsday's editor Mario Gonzalez took the necessary time while working on this project. Pacing, storytelling and organizing the chapters was critical for the project.
An incredible week, and an honor to work with the Murphy family.
Special thanks to the ship’s crew who participated in this video; Cmrd. Tom Schultz, Lt. William Fensterer, Ensign Abigail Harris, Chief Jacob Dort and Airman Parker Christensen. Also to PAO Lt. Ian Wolf for all his efforts.
Camera: Canon EOS 5d Mark II - 5DMKII
Lenses: Canon 24mm f/1.4L II, 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II, 2x EF Extender III, 50mm f/1.4 - 24mm, 70-200mm, 2X Extender, 50mm
Sound: Sound Devices MixPre-D - MixPreD
Microphone: Sennheiser Wireless EW 100-ENG G2 - 100-ENG G2