American Thinker recently previewed MURPH: The Protector, a feature-length documentary.  Anyone who has the time should view this film, since it is now playing in a very limited engagement this week (March 25-30, 2013) at select Regal Entertainment Group Theatres.  The film is based on the life of Lt. Michael Murphy, a U.S. Navy SEAL who died during Operation Red Wings.

Four SEALs, Michael Murphy, Marcus Luttrell, Danny Dietz, and Matthew Axelson, were sent on a mission in June 2005 to capture or kill an al-Qaeda leader connected with the Taliban in the mountains of Northern Afghanistan.  After being compromised by some goat-herders, the SEALs were ambushed and fought furiously for several hours, with only a lone survivor, Marcus Luttrell, emerging.  Unfortunately, a quick-reaction helicopter force sent out on a rescue mission was shot down, killing all 16 aboard.

People might remember Lt. Michael Murphy from Luttrell’s book.  In it, Luttrell described Murphy as a good friend – “the best officer I ever knew, an iron-souled warrior of colossal, almost unbelievable courage in the face of the enemy.”

Throughout the movie it is apparent how Michael was a role model to his friends, family, and those in his community.  Writer, director, and producer Scott Mactavish told American Thinker he wanted to make this documentary because Michael’s story is one of “honor, courage, and commitment.  Since being a part of Hollywood and the military, I feel an obligation to tell stories that Hollywood is not telling.  Stories like Michael’s get passed over in favor of financing zombie films.  I wanted to show that Michael is a prototypical Navy officer with strong ethics and a commitment to volunteer work.”

The movie starts off with a collage of photos of Michael, including one of him in a Navy uniform at the age of two.  From that period forward, the viewer will be drawn into rooting for this likeable young man.  The first third of the film is about his life before becoming a SEAL, with recollections from family and friends.  It becomes obvious that he is a dedicated, conscientious, focused, and determined individual, which helped him to endure and graduate from BUDs in October 2001 and to receive his Trident Pin in April 2002.

Words cannot express the many heart-wrenching scenes in the film.  Dan Murphy, Michael’s father, told American Thinker that after Michael battled back from a staph infection where he almost lost his legs, Michael called his dad.  He wanted a picture of Dan in the hospital bed, wearing the Purple Heart he received after being shot in Vietnam.  “His request brought me to tears.  Right before Hell Week he called and told me he wanted it for inspiration since ‘if you can get through that I can get through this week.'”

There was also the very touching scene when Michael was awarded the Medal of Honor, posthumously in October 2007.  His parents went to the ceremony and presented to President George W. Bush Michael’s dog tags.  Dan relayed the story in greater detail to American Thinker: “The president took us into the Oval Office, took off his jacket and tie, and unbuttoned his shirt.  He put the dog tags on under his T-shirt and then got redressed.  During the presentation of the Medal of Honor, the president kept putting his hand to his chest.  At the outside ceremony, he broke protocol and told Michael’s mom, Maureen, and I that with the dog tags he had Michael right next to his heart.  These dog tags are now in the presidential library.  I consider him a soldier’s commander-in-chief, especially after he explained to us that ‘the loss of one of my men always affects me.’  As a veteran, that struck a chord with me, because he understood that those being sent into harm’s way was his responsibility.  He even received a biography of every soldier lost to remind him the cost of the decisions he made.”

Towards the end of the movie, the viewers will need a lot of tissues, because they are able to view the agonizing and heart-wrenching feelings of parents who had a child pay the ultimate price.  Former Navy pilot Jeff Widenhofer had the responsibility to tell the Murphys that their son was missing and, six days later, notified them that Michael had died a hero.  Widenhofer is glad the documentary shows the personal sacrifice of family and friends in such a touching way.  He explained that those notified are “always shocked, since the news is very sudden, and then they become devastated.”

There are many more touching scenes in MURPH: The Protector.  It is a must-see for any person who wants to see what a true hero is made of.  As Dan Murphy told American Thinker about his son, “Michael is a cookie-cutter of every other Navy SEAL.  They all have the same characteristics: athletic, extremely humble, never looking for the limelight, and all are heroes for the secretive work they do in the shadows.  They never look for recognition except knowing that they have done their job, to protect our citizens.”  Any American who wants to pay a tribute should see the movie and support those men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

The author writes for American Thinker.  She has done book reviews, author interviews, and has written a number of national security



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About the Author

Elise Cooper

Elise writes book reviews that always include a short author interview.

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