President Bush, right, presents the Medal of Honor to Daniel Murphy, left, and Maureen Murphy, center, the parents of Navy Lt. Michael Murphy on Oct. 22 during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / The Associated Press)
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Lt. Michael Murphy, while shot and wounded in Afghanistan, managed to crawl onto a ridgeline and radio headquarters at the nearby air base for them to send in reinforcements. He later died of his wounds. (Navy)
President Bush on Monday presented the Medal of Honor to the parents of Lt. Michael P. Murphy, a Navy SEAL who was killed after he walked into enemy fire in Afghanistan when he made a desperate call for help to save his embattled teammates.
The team's survivor painted Murphy as a hero, and Bush reiterated that praise in a White House ceremony packed with top naval officers, family members and even a contingent from the New York City Fire Department.
"By awarding this medal, we acknowledge a debt that cannot diminish over time," Bush said, "and can never be repaid."
Bush took the hand of Murphy's mother, Maureen, as she stood on stage in the East Room with the president for the presentation of the medal, and Murphy's father, Dan, who received the Purple Heart during service in Vietnam.
Murphy's brother, John, sat in the audience with Murphy's only surviving teammate, former Special Operator 1st Class Marcus Luttrell, whose book, "Lone Survivor," told the story of their ordeal in Afghanistan in 2005. Bush called the book "riveting."
Murphy was "born to be a SEAL," Bush said, telling an anecdote about how an 18-month-old Murphy dived into a neighbor's pool in front of his horrified parents, only to emerge effortlessly after swimming to the other side. Dan and Maureen's son was "blessed with a powerful sense of right and wrong," the president said; the only time they heard from his principal in school was when Murphy got into a scuffle after sticking up for a disabled student, and his parents "couldn't have been prouder."
Bush also praised Murphy's parents for the courtesy they taught their son, citing the last thing he said on the radio — "roger that, sir, thank you" — as he called for a quick response team. "His grace and upbringing never deserted him. Though severely wounded, he said ‘thank you' before hanging up, and returned to the fight — before losing his life." Bush said.
Although U.S. commanders received Murphy's transmission and dispatched a team of SEALs and Army Night Stalkers, their helicopter was shot down and all aboard were killed.
After Bush's remarks, an aide unveiled Murphy's official Medal of Honor citation; the audience, which included many uniformed SEALs, stood as the citation was read aloud.
Murphy becomes the first American service member to receive the Medal of Honor for service in Afghanistan and the third service member honored since the beginning of the war on terrorism.
Murphy is the 746th sailor to receive the award; he is the 3,445th recipient of the nation's highest award for valor.
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