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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, July 7, 2005

Recovered SEAL's body was that of a Pearl Harbor sailor

By Mike Gordon
Advertiser Staff Writer


A Pearl Harbor-based Navy SEAL was identified yesterday as one of two sailors whose bodies were recovered Monday from a mountainous part of Afghanistan.

Lt. Michael P. Murphy, 29, of Patchogue, N.Y., was one of four SEALs conducting counterterrorism operations in Kunar province who disappeared June 28, the Pentagon said. The team found itself outnumbered and asked for help.

Sent to their aid was an MH-47 Chinook helicopter with 16 special operations troops aboard — half of them with the Army and half of them Navy SEALs. It was shot down by what the military suspects was a rocket-propelled grenade. Everyone aboard the Chinook was killed.

Three Pearl Harbor SEALs were aboard the helicopter, bringing to four the number of Hawai'i-based troops involved in the original ground mission and subsequent rescue operation.

The three Pearl Harbor-based SEALs on the helicopter were Senior Chief Petty Officer Daniel R. Healy, 36, of Exeter, N.H.; Petty Officer 2nd Class James Suh, 28, of Deerfield Beach, Fla.; and Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric Shane Patton, 22, of Boulder City, Nev.

From the original four-man team, the Navy yesterday identified the remains of Murphy and of Petty Officer 2nd Class Danny P. Dietz, 25, of Littleton, Colo. Dietz was assigned to SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team Two, Virginia Beach, Va.

A third SEAL with the team was rescued on Sunday and a fourth remained unaccounted for. Their names have not been released.

A purported Taliban spokes-man reiterated a claim today that his group is holding the missing SEAL. He offered no proof to back up the claim.

"This American will never be forgiven. Definitely he will be killed," said Mullah Latif Hakimi, the purported spokesman.

Murphy's parents, Daniel and Maureen, of Patchogue, who were informed of their son's death yesterday morning, left for the military morgue at Dover, Del., to await the arrival of his body, according to Newsday.com.

"We were just honored to have him as a son for 29 years," Daniel Murphy told Newsday. The senior Murphy is an attorney and the law secretary for New York State Supreme Court Justice Peter Fox Cohalan.

"We wanted to be here when he arrived on U.S. soil," he said.

The younger Murphy was a member of the class of 1994 at Patchogue-Medford High School, where he played varsity football. He graduated from Pennsylvania State University in 1998, according to Newsday.

He toyed briefly with going to law school but instead joined the SEALs on Dec. 13, 2000. He was promoted to lieutenant on Jan. 1, 2005. He served with SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team One, based at Pearl Harbor.

Before the names of the dead were officially released, the Navy told SEAL team members in Hawai'i and their dependents that six Pearl Harbor-based SEALs were involved. But the Navy did not say how many were part of the rescue mission and how many had been in need of help.

Robyn Healy, a former wife of Daniel R. Healy, said last week from her home in Honolulu that she and the couple's two daughters were coping. She described the senior chief, who had two older children from a previous marriage, as a devoted father who stayed in touch with his children no matter where he was. He had no children with his present wife.

Suh was an academic and athletic standout while growing up in Florida, starring on his high school swimming and tennis teams. Before joining the Navy, he earned a bachelor's degree in statistics from the University of Florida.

His sister, Claudia Bown, described him as a thoughtful, considerate young man with a dry sense of humor.

Patton was the son of a former Navy SEAL. He graduated from high school in Boulder City, Nev. His father, James Patton, is a city marshal in Boulder City.