Lt. Michael Murphy, the Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient from Patchogue who was killed in combat in Afghanistan in 2005, was posthumously presented with the Town of Islip's General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award during a ceremony at Long Island MacArthur Airport Thursday afternoon.
"It's been said that the history of our country is a history of ordinary people doing extraordinary things," Congressman Tim Bishop, D-Southampton, said at the ceremony in front of a standing room only crowd, which included Murphy's family. "In the case of Michael Murphy, it is an extraordinary person who did extraordinary things."
Murphy, a 1994 graduate of , "exposed himself to certain death to save his comrades," Bishop said of Murphy's actions on June 28, 2005 near Asadabad, Afghanistan in which the 29-year-old knowingly put himself in front of enemy fire in order to send out a call for help.
"That selflessness is extraordinary, that bravery is extraordinary, that love of one's fellow man and one's country is extraordinary," Bishop said.
According to the Town of Islip, the General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award is presented annually on MacArthur's birthday to an individual who exemplifies the leadership qualities: public service, personal excellence, dedication to duty, steadfast courage, and vision.
Islip Town Supervisor Tom Croci, a former lieutenant commander in the Navy, was at the White House working on the Homeland Security Council staff when President George W. Bush posthumously awarded Murphy with the Medal of Honor in 2007.
"I can say I've never seen such a display," Croci recalled of that ceremony, where Bush presented the Medal of Honor, the first awarded to a member of the Navy since the Vietnam War, to Murphy's parents, Maureen and Dan. "A president of the United States so humbled by the actions of a young lieutenant from the South Shore of Long Island."
Dan Murphy said his son set an example on how to be a true leader.
"I believe Michael's leadership shown not only to us on June 28, but throughout his life, represents a historical direction for all of us to follow," Dan Murphy said, referencing a speech from Henry Kissinger.
Lt. Murphy has been honored in a host of ways since his death. There's a memorial dedicated to him in front of the Patchogue building. In 2008, the post office in Patchogue was named after the Navy SEAL. Last year, the Navy its newest ship after Murphy.
Asked after the ceremony if the numerous honors make him more proud of his brother's heroic actions, John Murphy said it wasn't possible.
"You really can't be more proud," Murphy, 25, said of his older brother. "I'm actually more happy that other people are recognizing it.
My pride has always been there since ever because he's my brother, but I'm glad other people are taking the time out to appreciate it," John Murphy added of his brother's sacrifice.