Daniel and Maureen Murphy didn’t want a monument to their son, a Navy SEAL killed on a covert mission in Afghanistan in 2005.
So the still unfinished museum they dedicated Tuesday in West Sayville bears Michael Murphy’s name, but will tell the story of the SEALs, from the underwater demolition teams of World War II to the teams operating across the globe today.
Plaques outside the site name Murphy but also the18 men who died with him in Operation Red Wings. And the museum, when it opens next spring, will also host a training facility for U.S. Naval Sea Cadets, young people learning naval life and leadership skills.
“That’s my child,” said Maureen Murphy, in an interview following the ceremony at Charles R. Dominy County Park. “He was such a good kid, even before he put the uniform on. I want other people to know about him, and not only him — all the men and women” who died in service.
Sacrifice “was not something I wanted for my son,” Daniel Murphy said. “He was going to be a lawyer.” Instead, he said, Michael Murphy followed “a higher calling.”
They spoke after a ceremony that drew roughly 100 community members and elected officials, including Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Legis. William J. Lindsay (D-Bohemia).
The building is scheduled to open on Michael Murphy’s birthday, May 7. The Murphys envision a space that will use images, text and video to immerse visitors in the history of the nation’s special operations forces, including those fighting in Afghanistan and the Middle East.
There will be a “mini-sub ride,” Daniel Murphy said, along with a display of the Medal of Honor Michael Murphy was posthumously awarded at a White House ceremony, and a scale model of the battlefield where he was killed.
The Murphy family, along with members of the museum’s volunteer board, have so far raised $2.2 million of the project’s $3.4 million projected cost. Former State Sen. Tom Croci also secured a $400,000 state grant toward the facility.
Organizers said the facility will be only one of a handful in the country that focuses the elite special warfare group.
Michael Murphy, a member of the Class of 1994 at Patchogue-Medford High School, died June 28, 2005, while leading three other Navy SEALs on a search for a Taliban leader near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. He was 29.
Two other SEALs were killed on the ground that day during Operation Red Wings. Eight SEALs and eight Army “Night Stalker” special forces personnel were killed in a rescue helicopter that was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. It was the single largest loss of life for Naval Special Warfare since World War II.
Those men, along with a SEAL who survived, will be honored by plaques and 20 red maple trees planted alongside a newly built road outside the museum. That road will be called the Avenue of Heroes.
During the dedication ceremony for the future museum, which had a ceiling but not yet all its walls, Daniel Murphy confined his brief remarks to thanking people who had helped. Bellone and Lindsay were more expansive.
Museum visitors will learn “what honor, patriotism, duty, sacrifice is,” Bellone said. “That legacy lives on as long as this nation endures.”