Tag Archives: Armed Forces

Veteran’s Day re-post: Navy SEAL Michael Murphy awarded Medal of Honor

Navy SEAL Michael Murphy wins Medal of Honor
Navy SEAL Michael Murphy wins Medal of Honor

For Veteran’s Day, I am re-posting one of my favorite Medal of Honor stories.

Here is the story of a brave Navy SEAL named Michael Murphy.


Engaged in a frenzied firefight and outnumbered by the Taliban, Navy Lt. Michael Murphy made a desperate decision as he and three fellow SEALs fought for their lives on a rocky mountainside in Afghanistan’s Kunar Province in 2005.

In a last-ditch effort to save his team, Murphy pulled out his satellite phone, walked into a clearing to get reception and called for reinforcements as a fusillade of bullets ricocheted around him. One of the bullets hit him, but he finished the call and even signed off, “Thank you.”

Then he continued the battle.

Dan Murphy, the sailor’s father, said it didn’t surprise him that his slain son nicknamed “The Protector” put himself in harm’s way. Nor was he surprised that in the heat of combat his son was courteous.

“That was Michael. He was cool under fire. He had the ability to process information, even under the most difficult of circumstances. That’s what made him such a good SEAL officer,” Murphy said.

A warship bearing the name of the Medal of Honor recipient will be christened Saturday — on what would have been Murphy’s 35th birthday — at Bath Iron Works, where the destroyer is being built.

Murphy, who was 29 when he died, graduated from Pennsylvania State University and was accepted to multiple law schools, but decided he could do more for his country as one of the Navy’s elite SEALS — special forces trained to fight on sea, air and land — the same forces that killed Osama bin Laden this week in Pakistan.

[…]Murphy, of Patchogue, N.Y., earned his nickname after getting suspended in elementary school for fighting with bullies who tried to stuff a special-needs child into a locker and for intervening when some youths were picking on a homeless man, said Dan Murphy, a lawyer, former prosecutor and Army veteran who served in Vietnam.

Maureen Murphy said he thought he was too young to take a desk job as a lawyer. Instead, he went to officer candidate school, the first step on his journey to become a SEAL officer. He was in training during the Sept. 11 attacks, which shaped his views.

His view was that there are “bullies in the world and people who’re oppressed in the world. And he said, ‘Sometimes they have to be taken care of,'” she said.

On June 28, 2005, the day he was killed, Murphy was leading a SEAL team in northeastern Afghanistan looking for the commander of a group of insurgents known as the Mountain Tigers.

What happened to Murphy?

The Operation Red Wings reconnaissance team rappelled down from a helicopter at night and climbed through rain to a spot 10,000 feet high overlooking a village to keep a lookout. But the mission was compromised the following morning when three local goat herders happened upon their hiding spot.

High in the Hindu Kush mountains, Murphy and Petty Officers Marcus Luttrell of Huntsville, Texas; Matthew Axelson of Cupertino, Calif.; and Danny Dietz of Littleton, Colo.; held a tense discussion of the rules of engagement and the fate of the three goat herders, who were being held at gunpoint.

If they were Taliban sympathizers, then letting the herders go would allow them to alert the Taliban forces lurking in the area; killing them might ensure the team’s safety, but there were issues of possible military charges and a media backlash, according to Luttrell, the lone survivor.

Murphy, who favored letting the goat herders go, guided a discussion of military, political, safety and moral implications. A majority agreed with him.

An hour after the herders were released, more than 100 Taliban armed with AK-47 assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades opened fire, attacking from higher elevation, and maneuvering to outflank the SEALs, said Gary Williams, author of “Seal of Honor,” a biography of Murphy.

[…]As the only survivor, Luttrell has pangs of regret for voting to go along with Murphy, his best friend; he now believes the team could’ve survived if the goat herders were killed.

He wasn’t willing to kill unarmed civilians. That’s the difference between the United States and the Muslim terrorists. It’s a moral difference. Michael Murphy was a good man. He used guns and violence to protect others, and he was not willing to kill unarmed civilians.

Here are the requirements for the Army version of the Medal of Honor:

The Medal of Honor is awarded by the President in the name of Congress to a person who, while a member of the Army, distinguishes himself or herself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States; while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party. The deed performed must have been one of personal bravery or self-sacrifice so conspicuous as to clearly distinguish the individual above his comrades and must have involved risk of life. Incontestable proof of the performance of the service will be exacted and each recommendation for the award of this decoration will be considered on the standard of extraordinary merit.

The Navy decided to honor Murphy’s sacrifice by naming a ship after him. What kind of ship do you think would suit Michael Murphy?

 USS Michael Murphy DDG 112 Arleigh Burke
USS Michael Murphy DDG 112 Arleigh Burke

Michael Murphy is getting a brand new Arleigh Burke guided missile destroyer! Arleigh Burke vessels have the AEGIS missile defense system and their role is to protect carrier strike groups from incoming SSMs and ASMs.


The Arleigh Burke Class destroyers are equipped with the Aegis combat system which integrates the ship’s sensors and weapons systems to engage anti-ship missile threats.

The Aegis system has a federated architecture with four subsystems – AN/SPY-1 multifunction radar, command and decision system (CDS), Aegis display system (ADS) and the weapon control system (WCS). The CDS receives data from ship and external sensors via satellite communications and provides command, control and threat assessment. The WCS receives engagement instruction from the CDS, selects weapons and interfaces with the weapon fire control systems.

[…]Lockheed Martin is developing the Aegis ballistic missile defence (BMD) capability for the Aegis combat system to engage ballistic missiles with the SM-3 missile. 15 Arleigh Burke destroyers have been fitted with the Aegis BMD system, which provides the capability for long-range surveillance, tracking and engagement of short and medium-range ballistic missiles. The system received US Navy certification for full deployment in September 2006. Work was completed on the 15 destroyers at the end of 2008 and the vessels, with three Ticonderoga cruisers, form the Aegis BMD fleet. On 30 July 2009 the Aegis BMD system was successfully tested by the US Navy on the USS Hopper (DDG 70).Aegis BMD is the main sea-based component of the US ballistic missile defence system.

The weapons control systems include a SWG-1A for Harpoon, SWG-3 for Tomahawk, mk99 mod 3 missile fire control system, GWS34 mod 0 gun fire control system and mk116 mod 7 fire control system for anti-submarine systems.

Only two classes of warships that I know of have the AEGIS system. The DDG Arleigh Burke and the CG Ticonderoga.

Michael Murphy was a real hero. It makes me sad that he is gone. But his spirit will live on in the new warship that bears his name.

Dennis Prager: the feminization of America harms the whole world

My favorite painting:
My favorite painting: “Godspeed” by Edmund Blair Leighton, 1900

A few days back, I wrote a post that I really enjoyed writing about the movie High Noon. In it, I talked about the conflict between Marshal Will Kane and his new wife. He wanted to stay and protect his home town against outlaws who are coming to kill him and raze the town. His new wife cannot understand why he has to stand and fight, she wants him to run away with her. In the end, she helps him to defeat the outlaws, saving his life.

That post was inspired by something I heard Dennis Prager talking about on his radio show. He was talking about a survey of boys and girls done by the toy company Mattel. Well, I wanted to blog about his comments, so I ended up writing the High Noon post. But then Dina found an article about the Mattel survey on National Review. I think this is one of the wisest and most perceptive articles I have ever read, and it will really help you to understand what has happened in the last 50 years to this country.

Prager writes:

Last week the New York Times published an article, “Sweeping Away Gender-Specific Toys and Labels,” that contained three sentences that explain one of the most important phenomena in American life. In discussing the increasing move to do away with gender-specific toys — something the New York Times approves of — the article quoted Tania Missad, the “director of global consumer insights” at one of the world’s largest toy manufacturers, Mattel:

Mattel’s research showed some differences in what girls and boys wanted in their action figures, Ms. Missad said. “For boys it’s very much about telling a story of the good guy killing the villain. . . . [Girls] would tell us: ‘Why does the good girl have to kill the villain? Can’t they be friends in the end?’”

Prager comments on the part in red:

This difference may be the most important of all the sex differences. Indeed, it can actually shape the future of America and of the world.

Of course, there are women who want evil destroyed — the late Margaret Thatcher, for example. And there are men who oppose confronting evil — the men who lead the modern Democratic party, for example. (One such man is the president of the United States, who has a feminized view of those who do evil — talk to them, but don’t confront them, label them, or fight them.) But these exceptions happen in large numbers under two circumstances: when women get married and when men are feminized.

When women get married, they are often influenced by their husbands with regard to political and moral issues, just as married men are influenced by their wives on a whole host of micro issues. As a result, married women are more likely than single women to prefer to fight villains than to befriend them. Unfortunately, more and more American women are single.

Meanwhile American boys are increasingly raised by single women and taught almost only by female teachers. In addition, they are often taught to be ashamed of their masculine natures and to reject traditional masculine virtues.

As a result of the above two trends, the amount spent on national defense will continue to decline (while the amount spent on welfare will continue to increase), and America will confront the world’s evils less and less. The consequences will be disastrous for millions of people around the globe.

When America retreats from killing bad guys, bad guys kill more innocent people. We are witnessing this right now as a consequence of America’s abandoning Iraq and retreating from the world generally. Islamic State took over more and more territories as America abandoned them. Ironically, therefore, as American foreign policy becomes feminized, more Middle East females are raped.

Whenever I see on a car the liberal bumper sticker “War Is Not the Answer,” I look to see who is driving. In years of looking, I have seen one male driver.

Both women and men have flawed natures. They share human nature, which is deeply flawed, and the sexes have their own particular natures, which are also flawed. That is one reason men need women and women need men. Men need women to soften their intrinsic aggressive nature and to help them control their predatory sexuality; and women need men to, among other things, better understand that evil people and regimes must be fought, not nurtured.

So, there is something in male nature that thinks that it is acceptable to use violence as a last resort in order to defeat evil. Evil might be things like criminals, terrorists… even wolves and bears, if they attacked innocent people.

So what are the solutions?

Here’s what we should do:

  • We should stop paying women money to have children before they are married, so that boys have fathers to raise them who have made a commitment before they got handed free sex.
  • We should rollback no-fault divorce, which leads to fatherless children. People should be less emotional about who they marry, and not think “there’s an escape hatch if I feel unhappy”.
  • We should try to get more male teachers into classrooms, and maybe allow parents to pull boys out of failing schools and put them into all-male schools if they think those work better.
  • We should try to vote for policies that empower law enforcement, national security, and our armed forces to detect, attack and defeat evil. For example, we invest in defense spending, and avoid undermining the morale of police and armed forces with political correctness.

I guess the list could be longer, but that’s a start for the issues that Prager raised.

We need to work against the forces that demean male nature and male roles, and work to promote male nature and male roles.

Thinking practically about the gospel with an illustration from a war movie

The city of Mogadishu, in Somalia, Africa
The city of Mogadishu, in Somalia, Africa

First, let’s get an overview that helps us understand the context and goals of the mission we are going to discuss.

The scene is set in Somalia, Africa, in 1992. There a civil war between two warlords: Ali Mahdi and Mohammed Farah Aidid. The war has destroyed agricultural operations, and the people are starving. The United Nations are trying to help, but Aidid hijacks the food from UN aircraft so that he can use the food to gain control of the people. Hundreds of thousands of Somalis are dying of starvation. The UN requests American military forces to secure the air-dropped supplies so they can be distributed to the starving people.

In December 1992, President George H.W. Bush answers the call, sending 25,000 troops to Somalia to protect the food from the Somali warlords. However, in 1993, Bill Clinton is elected. He orders that the number of U.S. troops be reduced to 12,000. Following an attack by Aidid on Pakistani peace-keepers, the U.N. issues a resolution to capture those responsible. The U.S. armed forces have the arms and training to battle evil, so they get the call to capture Aidid and his lieutenants.

In late August 1993, Task Force Ranger is deployed to Mogadishu to capture Aidid and his lieutenants at the Olympic Hotel. The U.S. force consists of 440 troops from the Army Rangers and Army Delta Force special forces, commanded by General William Garrison. Garrison requested light armored units (Bradley Infantry Fighting vehicles) that would offer more protection than the unarmored HMMWV Humvees. Garrison was denied the light armor by the Clinton administration. Garrison requested heavier air support (AC-130 Spectre gunships) that would offer better fire support than the UH-60 Blackhawk miniguns. Garrison was denied the air support by the Clinton administration. The Clinton administration did not want the American forces to appear too heavily armed for the peace-keeping role.

The actual mission turned out to be much harder than it needed to be, because of the resources denied by the Clinton administration. Although the Aidid lieutenants were captured, Aidid himself escaped. Eighty-four American soldiers were wounded. Eighteen American soldiers were killed, and their bodies were dragged through the streets of Mogadishu. This was shown over and over by the media, and it undermined American resolve to help the Somali people. As a result, Clinton had the excuse he needed to retreat the American military.

(Source: Nova Online)

Two heroes lost their lives

Today, I want to talk about two of the men who lost their lives in Operation Gothic Serpent. They are Master Sergeant Gary I. Gordon and Sergeant First Class Randall D. Shughart – a Delta Force sniper team.

Here is a clip from the movie Blackhawk Down, which shows what happened to them:

The pilot of the downed Blackhawk was protected by the two men who volunteered to go in after him. They requested that they be inserted at the crash site, even though they knew that reinforcements were likely not going to be there in time to save them. They made the request to go and help the pilot three times before being allowed to go in. Their first two requests were denied by their commanding officer, because it the odds against their survival were so overwhelming. The rescued pilot was later released by his captors, and the two heroes were awarded the Medal of Honor for their brave actions.

A Congressional Medal of Honor
A Congressional Medal of Honor

Here is a description of the requirements to be awarded a Medal of Honor:

The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration that may be awarded by the United States government. It is presented by the President of the United States, in the name of Congress, and is conferred only upon members of the United States Armed Forces who distinguish themselves through conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty:

  • While engaged in action against an enemy of the United States;
  • While engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or
  • While serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.

You can read the official details of their actions.

The point of this post

It is important for Christians to be familiar with real-world examples of people giving their lives in order to save the lives of others. When we see real-world examples of self-sacrifice, it helps us to understand what Jesus really achieved for us, and what he must have felt making that hard choice to volunteer to go in and rescue us. In general, my philosophy when it comes to the Bible is to make every effort to connect what the Bible says to the real world. We must not push Christianity into some far-off world of piety and feelings. We must make connections to real evidence and real life, so that what the Bible says becomes practical, and so that we have a deep friendship with and sympathy for God revealed in Jesus Christ. In real life, being willing to give your life to save someone else is hard. Understanding how that really happens will help us to value what Jesus has done for us.

Bible verses

I saw this verse on the ground outside the Airborne & Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville, NC, where I went for my summer vacation this year. (Thanks to my friend Curby who hosted me)

Isaiah 6:8:

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Here is the picture I took (yes, that is my running shoe):

“Here am I, send me” Isaiah 6:8

When confronted with an opportunity to imitate Christ in his self-sacrifice, we should think less about ourselves and our own desires, and take the opportunity to serve others effectively. We do not do what makes us happy, and we do not pursue fun and thrills. We do what heals, we do what helps others. We do not push away our responsibility to imitate Christ by caring for those in danger. Christianity is not just about “not doing bad things”. It’s the good things you do because of your relationship with Jesus that show your real allegiance, and give you the experience of being a Christian in deed.

And here is another good verse:

John 15:13:

13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

If you get a chance to watch the movie Blackhawk Down, then do so. I highly recommend it. You can also read the book that the movie is based on.

I love the Medal of Honor books by Edward F. Murphy. He writes about all the people who have been awarded the Medal of honor in different wars: World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

Obama vetoes bill that “authorizes pay, benefits and training for U.S. troops”

He's better at golf than foreign policy
He’s better at golf than foreign policy, and he sucks at golf

Here’s the Wall Street Journal.


President Obama is playing politics with national defense, and in the process he is taking down the military’s welfare. In an act of partisan gamesmanship, the president on Thursday vetoed the National Defense Authorization Act, a bill that a bipartisan majority of Congress passed and that delivers the resources needed by troops to defend the nation.

[…]He has become the first commander in chief willing to sacrifice national security by vetoing a bill that authorizes pay, benefits and training for U.S. troops, simply because he seeks leverage to pursue his domestic political agenda.

[…]President Obama’s veto was about broader spending issues that have absolutely nothing to do with defense. By vowing recently that he “will not fix defense without fixing nondefense spending,” the president is holding the military hostage to increase funding for Washington bureaucracies like the Environmental Protection Agency and the Internal Revenue Service.

The Environmental Protection Agency is more important?:

EPA dumps 1 million gallons of mining waste into river
EPA dumps 1 million gallons of mining waste into river

The Internal Revenue Service is more important?:

IRS Chief Fascist Lois Lerner
IRS Chief Fascist Lois Lerner

More Wall Street Journal:

In vetoing this bill, the president imposes more harm and uncertainty on the military at a time when America faces dangerous and complex threats from around the world. He has prevented critical policies from taking effect that would immediately improve the lives of service members and military families while addressing needs of wounded, ill or injured service members. For example, President Obama has rejected measures that open service members’ access to medical care; enhance protections for military sexual-assault victims; extend retirement benefits to more than 80% of service members; make significant, long-overdue reforms to the defense acquisition system; and authorize hundreds of other measures that are critical to national security.

Perhaps most disturbingly, the president’s veto has sent a message to America’s enemies and allies alike that he is more concerned about funding broken Washington bureaucracies than he is about maintaining the nation’s distinction for being defended by the world’s greatest fighting force.

That is the wrong message to send when America faces an array of crises that demand a strong national defense, including war in Afghanistan, China’s illegal activities in the South China Sea, Islamic State’s terrorist reign across Iraq and Syria, Bashar Assad’s bombing campaign—now backed by Russia and Iran—against his own people in Syria,Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea and dismemberment of Ukraine, and Iran’s malign activities propping up terrorist proxies destabilizing the Middle East.

These and other threats make it clear that the U.S. faces more national-security threats than at any time since the end of World War II. It is reckless, cynical and downright dangerous for the president to veto the NDAA, denying the American military the authorizations it desperately needs.

We have to fund the EPA and the IRS, but we can’t fund our armed forces. At a time where Russia, China and Iran are arming up and getting more aggressive, we can’t fund our armed forces. Democrat Party priorities.

UPDATE: Reader tells me that it affects things like hazard pay, enlistment bonuses, not the annual pay increase:

The Thursday veto will jeopardize a host of other specialty pays and bonuses, and has inflamed an already bitter budget standoff between Obama and congressional Republicans.

But it does not alter plans for a 1.3 percent raise for troops effective Jan. 1, which is ensured regardless of how the veto fight shakes out.

[…]The defense authorization bill still affects things like enlistment bonuses, hazard pays, and other specialty compensation for which authorization must be renewed each year. If lawmakers has substituted their own pay raise or tried to supercede the presidential order in the bill, Obama’s veto would have affected that, too.

Survey of U.S. military personnel shows steep drop in morale from 2009 to 2014

Military morale from 2009-2014
Military morale from 2009-2014 (Source: Military Times)

Story from the Military Times.


According to the Military Times survey, active-duty troops reported a stunning drop in how they rated their overall quality of life: Just 56 percent call it good or excellent, down from 91 percent in 2009. The survey, conducted in July and August, found that 73 percent of troops would recommend a military career to others, down from 85 percent in 2009. And troops reported a significant decline in their desire to re-enlist, with 63 percent citing an intention to do so, compared with 72 percent a few years ago.

[…]Survey data show that service members are also feeling pain in their own wallets. Congress this year capped the military pay raise at 1 percent, rather than the 1.8 percent that would have kept pace with average annual growth in private-sector wages. It was the first military pay raise since 1999 that did not at least keep pace with private-sector wages, and it was also the lowest annual military pay raise in 40 years.

To save money, the Pentagon had sought to roll back the tax-free housing benefit provided to troops by, in effect, making troops pay 5 percent of their housing with out-of-pocket cash. The new deal on Capitol Hill will result in next year’s housing allowance covering 99 percent of estimated costs and troops themselves covering the 1 percent shortfall. Service members are unlikely to see an outright reduction in their housing allowance unless they change duty stations, but rates for troops moving into new areas will be set slightly lower when compared to projected housing costs.

Several services also have cut pay for special duty assignments — such as recruiters, divers, drill sergeants and others — while promotions in some fields slow as competition for jobs during a drawdown heats up. And of course, those troops who have frequently collected hazardous duty and deployment pay over the last decade may now have fewer opportunities to do so.

In 2009, 87 percent of active-duty troops who participated in Military Times’ survey rated their pay and allowances “good” or “excellent.” This year, the figure was just 44 percent. When asked how quality of life might change over the next several years, 70 percent of respondents predicted it would decline further.

A Navy fire controlman chief with 10 deployments said budget fears are contributing to a feeling of distrust and abandonment. “If sailors are worried about not getting paid, how am I supposed to do my job?” he said. “I’m not an effective warfighter if I don’t have the backing of my government at home.”

A pervasive sense of pessimism about the post-9/11 wars may also contribute to the overall feeling of dissatisfaction among troops and a feeling of detachment from the decision-makers who sent them to those fights. Of those surveyed, 52 percent said they had become more pessimistic about the war in Afghanistan in recent years. Nearly 60 percent felt the war in Iraq was somewhat unsuccessful or not at all successful.

[…]Troops today are pocketing far smaller annual pay raises. The 2014 bump of just 1 percent was the smallest in the 41-year history of the all-volunteer force. That compares with 3.9 percent in 2009 — and 6.9 percent in 2002. Congress may well vote to authorize just another 1 percent in 2015. In the best-case scenario, that might go to 1.8 percent.

On top of that, the once-vast pool of cash that flowed directly into service members’ pockets in the form of combat pays and re-enlistment bonuses has dried up. In 2014, troops received $3.8 billion in special pays and incentive pays, down from $6.1 billion, adjusted for inflation, in 2003, according to VisualDoD, a company that tracks Pentagon spending. For 2015, that budget is expected to fall to $3.5 billion.

Now we were in both Aghanistan and Iraq in 2009, at the beginning of the survey period, and morale was very high. What changed in 2009? Soldiers who are deployed want to win a war – they don’t want to be stuck in limbo. They don’t want a leader who views winning a war as an excessive use of force.

UPDATE: Defense policy expert Max Boot has an article explaining why he thinks morale is dropping at Commentary magazine.