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SEAL of Honor is a compelling read chock full of lessons learned for military and civilian alike. It is a tearjerker from the very beginning and Gary Williams does an excellent job of capturing the duality of our everyday peaceful lives here in the United States and the exceptional heroism and harrowing tragedies that occur overseas. He does this by highlighting the daily rhythm of the families involved that remain relatively unchanged until the news seeping out of Afghanistan provides a clue that Michael Murphy might have been near the action. All of the key figures in the book had continued on their daily regimen, worried, certainly upset that warriors had been killed and wounded, but of course thinking it had to be someone else. Then, with the news that Michael was involved, the world stopped for his loving parents, fiancé, friends, peers, and extended family around the Long Island and the Naval Special Warfare communities. This book works on many levels. First, it is an evenhanded account of a young man's drive to become a Navy SEAL despite several other life path opportunities. Some men and women just want to serve their country and Michael Murphy was of that noble gene pool. Second, SEAL of Honor captures the agony of those on the home front as they pine for their loved ones in harm's way and pray that the government vehicle doesn't stop in front of their house and officers in full dress uniform don't appear on their doorstep. Importantly, SEAL of Honor is also a trove of leadership lessons that future generations of service men and women can read, debate, and study as they formulate their own unique leadership styles. As an author of thriller fiction I always study heroes, real life and fictional, and the best heroes are humble, selfless, hard working, and determined. Michael Murphy is a true American hero in the finest sense of the word. Williams artfully captures the legacy he leaves behind that will help educate and train young leaders in our country. Williams captures well Murphy's upbringing in the Patchogue and Long Island communities and how his family, friends, and community helped shape his character and values. SEAL of Honor is more than an account of a military action. Rather, it is an examination of one man's life, his maturation, his service, his combat experience, and the actions that led to Michael Murphy being awarded the Medal of Honor. SEAL of Honor should be on every leader's short list of must read books.
Reprinted from [...] with permission.
Brigadier General Anthony J. Tata (USA, Ret)
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on November 27, 2010
Seal Of Honor is the rest of the story of Lt. Mike Murphy, who was with Marcus Luttrell in the mountains of Afghanistan when their SEAL team was detected and attacked by Al-Qaeda/Taliban forces in 2005 (as relayed in 'Lone Survivor').

This book is in some sense the sequel to 'Lone Survivor' with very little overlap between them. It is in many ways a memorial in that so much time/space is spent on the memorial service/funeral of Mike Murphy at the beginning and again at the end, including details on each person lost, his brief history, his awards and decorations, and his final resting place.

Actually only 25 pages of 216, (from pgs 128-150) actually talk about Murphy's time in Afghanistan. So if you are looking for a page-turner to take on the plane or beach, this is NOT it.

The book rather spends it's time talking about Murphy's family and fiancee and how they heard the news of his death, his memorial and funeral arrangements and procession, then goes on for quite some time about SEAL training and structure,...after the 25 pages about the battle, the next 20 pages cover the other soldiers and SpecOps forces that were lost one-by-one, then we travel back to Mike's family as they visit other memorials up to accepting the Medal of Honor from the President and setting up a series of memorial funds that benefit other families and aspiring SEALS.

The book has a hushed tone and indeed I felt that way myself reading through it. However, it feels 'long' as memorial services and funerals usually do. No disrespect is meant here, but not knowing any of the families personally, one feels as if you were in the back row trying to grasp/understand while feeling badly for the families up front.
Recommended for those who love the SEALS and want to honor a great soldier by feeling as if they too are there, honoring a brave and loved son and SEAL and friend.
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VINE VOICEon May 5, 2010
"Seal of Honor", by Gary Williams, is the biography of LT Michael P. Murphy, USN, the first man to be honored with the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions in the mountains of Afghanistan. The actions of LT Murphy and his heavily outnumbered SEAL team are documented in Marcus Luttrell's outstanding book "Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10". "Seal of Honor" reaches far beyond the battlefield to offer the reader insights into how this hero came to be.

Ingrained into every SEAL, is the ethos that the team is more important than self. Williams appropriately begins the the book by focusing on a SEAL's first team - his family. Reconstructing the events as told through personal interviews with the family, Williams exposes the reader to the uncertainty, the shock, and the disbelief experienced by LT Murphy's parents, siblings, and fiancee as they relive the casualty notification process - the process by which they learned their beloved Michael was at first missing and then recovered from the unforgiving mountains of the Hindu Kush. The reader also experiences the incredibly emotionally moving tribute given to LT Murphy by fellow warriors as his remains are transported from Afghanistan back to the United States. The reader then follows the solemn procession as Michael is transported to his final duty station at Calverton National Cemetery. As the reader is awed by the massive outpouring of community support, you begin to wonder how such a young man made such a huge impact on the community.

Williams delves into Michael's life as he matures from the little league baseball player, to the recent college graduate who decides he is going to go to the Navy's Officer Candidate School and become a SEAL. The author retraces Murphy's steps as he prepares himself in his efforts to gain a letter of recommendation to become a SEAL. His humility and determination to constantly improve himself earned him entry into SEAL training - and these same personal traits carried him through the rigorous training he would endure over the next months.
The reader then learns about the incredibly difficult training that a sailor completes during his transformation into a member of the elite SEAL community. Readers who enjoy this section are encouraged to learn more in Dick Couch's book "The Warrior Elite: The Forging of SEAL Class 228".

Having provided the reader with an understanding of the man and the training he underwent in preparation, Williams finally discusses the operational deployment of LT Murphy and his team. After goat-herders discover the team's hiding position, Murphy humanely decides to release his unfortunate captives. A short time later, the team finds itself surrounded by forces of Mullah Ahmad Shah - the man they were sent to surveill. During the brief, but intense firefight, all four men are wounded and LT Murphy makes a decision to do the heroic act that earns the Medal of Honor.

LT Murphy was not alone in heroic actions that day. June 28, 2005 remains the day with the highest number of special force fatalities since June 4, 1944. It is fitting that Williams dedicates his final chapter of the book to the eighteen other men who perished during the operation.

Williams quotes Capt John McCain, USN (Ret) statement "that courage is not the absense of fear, it is the capacity for action despite our fears." LT Murphy is the embodiment of courage, and this book is story of how this young man's character was forged in his formative years. The United States is blessed to not only have men like LT Michael Murphy, but also small communities like Patchogue, New York where he was raised. It truly takes a village to raise great men and women with the sense of service embodied by LT Murphy. Williams did a fantastic job introducing us to the man behind the medal.
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on June 29, 2010
Having read Marcus Luttrell's gripping book, Lone Survivor, and recalling the events surrounding Operation Red Wings, I knew I had to get this book to learn more about this fallen hero. As it happens, when Red Wings took place I was still a Marine in San Diego recently returned from a tour in Iraq and I remember the news coverage about the fate of Murphy and his team. Like every time I read or hear news about another casualty overseas, it was saddening. Five years later, we have this work by Gary Williams. This is a moving, well-written story about Murphy's life and accomplishments. He must have been an amazing person to know and serve with. Our society spends so much time on following the minute details of celebrity lives and things that just don't matter, but do yourself a favor, spend the $20, read the book with an open heart, and honor the ultimate sacrifice made by this courageous Navy SEAL who gave his life for his teammates and our nation.
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on May 17, 2010
I read SEAL of Honor over two days, and Lt. Murphy's story still resonates. From his lifeguard days on Long island, to Penn State and finally the US Navy, Mike showed glimpses of character and courage throughout his life. He had struggles along the way (like the foot injury in BUD/S) but never gave up, and stayed focused on his goal of becoming a SEAL. The book is heavy on details, and Mr. Williams did an excellent job researching it . The Medal of Honor process is very interesting, and Mr. Dan Murphy's (Mike's father) journey is quite touching. And as a retired Air Force enlisted, I like the way he honored the other fallen troops from Operation Redwings. Highly recommended.
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on May 19, 2010
I simply could not out this book down from the moment I read the first page. It is a truly inspiring book about a true American Hero who sacrificed his own life in order to save his team members. It also is a book about how to be a leader and how Michael lead by example.

Getting to see what it takes to be a SEAL was appsolutely amazing. One cannot image what a person goes through to become a SEAL. Michael showed true determination in order to achieve his goal.

The author captured what the family went through as they waited for new on Michael when he was missing. I felt the shear agony of how they felt waiting for news. It was simply gut rentching.

This is a must read book that offers insight into a man that lived a life for others. America was truly lucky to have Michael Murphy protecting her. Those who knew Michael in person are even luckier for having known such an honorable man!!
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on May 14, 2010
Seal of Honor for any type of reader is a one of a kind book that will be enjoyed by all. It is an outstanding publication on the desire of a young man to provide service to his nation, fight against terrorism and to serve in one of the world's most elite military forces - The Navy SEALS. Williams allows the reader to journey through Murphy's young life, his rationale for joining the service and how he endured and made it through this difficult training. The book is an important material on service, honor and patriotism several years after 9/11 and the every day war that our nation is waging against the terrorists. You will not be disappointed by Seal of Honor! One of the best military and American history books that I have read in some time. Good job to Williams and his efforts to write an outstanding account of this holder of the Medal of Honor.
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on July 18, 2011
Hi,i consider myself a humble guy,but im sure no Murph.This Seal is the example of how you would want your son to be like.Sticks up for people,a great friend,great son,and a guy who would be willing to die for his friends.
The first 5 chapters will touch your heart,and if you dont get emotional,you might have to check yourself.The other chapters are about his training and what type of man he was and the way people thought about him.
Concludes with the medals he won and places that have honored him.It makes you remember that there are heroes in this world,that want nothing more than to protect there country,family, and are willing to die for what they believe in.
This man is 3 yrs younger than me,and lived 10 min. from me in Patchogue,long island.It was my loss to have never met him.
I will be meeting his mom in a couple months,and will let her know how her son touched my life,and i will never forget him. Also Danny and Matthew.
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on May 24, 2010
For me at least, this book was a major disappointment. When I first learned of the events that occurred on that tragic day and then read Marcus Luttrell's excellent book Lone Survivor, I was in awe of what these men accomplished, of their ardent patriotism, their toughness and courage. Marcus's book at some points even brought me to tears. It was powerfully, clearly and very well written and was a pleasure to read. I was expecting this book to be the same, however, after I read it I realized it left much to be desired.

First of all, only around 1/3 or ¼ of this book REALLY talks about Lt. Michael Murphy, the rest or maybe 2/3 or ¾ talks about BUDS training, the background on the war in Afghanistan, the background of Operation Redwing and then it gives some information about the other men who died trying to rescue Lt. Murphy and the 3 SEALS he commanded. Don't get me wrong, I do not want to take away any importance from these other heroes, who all deserve to have books written about them. But this book was suppose to be (as I understood it) an in depth story and analysis of the LIFE of Lt. Michael Murphy, and in my opinion this book failed to really deliver on this. The 1st part of the book was, however, very interesting because it introduced Lt. Murphy's family and described the harrowing ordeal that his family experienced as a result of this operation. I felt like I was almost there and could feel their pain and anguish during that time and when his "homecoming" and funeral was described. I was very moved.

Then the book tries to talk about Lt. Murphy's life from the time he was a toddler all the way up until he entered BUDS. The book then recounts various stories about Lt. Murphy, some which were pretty funny, others which were more moving and awe inspiring. But the problem with this is that most of these stories and what this part of the book talks about is already on the internet. There was an article in the New York Times called "Recognizing the Honor of Son" that you can still find on the internet here [...], Michael&_r=2
that already provides a lot of information and gives you a good general idea of the sort of man that Lt. Murphy was. Then there was another article that was written in 7 or 8 parts and was much longer then the one I just mentioned and that basically talked about the life of Lt. Murphy and started out describing his father's service in Vietnam and why it at first made him very reluctant to the idea of his son joining the military. It was also a very interesting article and described Lt. Murphy and his family quite well. I cannot seem to find it now but I read it last year sometime on the internet.

My point is, if one goes on google and types in search queues about Lt. Michael Murphy one can find almost the same amount of information on there that can be found in the book. I was so moved and inspired by Lt. Murphy and his story that I would go on google and read every article, comment or piece of information on him that I could find because I am generally very interested in the military (NAVY SEALS in particular) and was just fascinated by him and what he accomplished and by what kind of man he was. I would also read and reread this information many times so I already had an idea of what he was like. When I heard that this book was coming out I almost could not contain my excitement because I thought I would learn even more about Lt. Murphy and his family. Now I did learn more about SOME things such as his athletic prowess and more about the extent of his injuries in BUDS (things which I had already known to some extent); and some new things such as that he was involved in an accident during SQT training, and about his determination to become accepted into BUDS (and that is largely because the author mentioned Lt. Murphy's improving physical fitness scores). I cannot mention any more things because I have already returned my copy of the book to the store but I can assure you the majority of the things that one can learn from reading this book one can learn just by going online and reading articles and just doing research. The book presents very very little new information about the extraordinary life of Lt. Murphy and THAT is the major disappointment I have with this book. What about Lt. Murphy's Irish background? What about some more stories from his childhood, where did he like to go as a kid? What did he like to do, why did he like it? How did he like practice when he played sports? What were his relationships with his brother, classmates, teammates, coaches like? He studied Psychology and Political Science at Penn State, what made him choose these majors? Why? What about any girlfriends? What were his relationships like? How did he meet his fiancé Heather, what was she like? What made him fall in love with her? What happened after he saved the kid from the bullies? Any other instances where he protected others in any way? What motivated him so much in sports and in academics? What were his study habits like? Why did he like history so much? What inspired him? Who did he look up to and why? Any stories of him being on duty as a lifeguard? What made him want to be a lifeguard? How many people and who did he save? What made him want to join the Navy Seals out of all units? What attracted him to the Navy Seals? How did he prepare for BUDS? What were his workouts like? What was his experience like during all of BUDS and not just Hellweek? What did he think about it, what did he say about the training? What was he really good at and what did he need to improve in if anything? What kept him going during training, what were his strategies or motivation to get through training? What did he do during his off time in training? How did he perform during training? Why did he want to leave the SEALS after his deployment? What made him want to choose the FBI? This book in my opinion fails to answer these questions miserably and I am sure I'll think of more questions in the future.

The section that talks about BUDS training is extremely boring if one already knows anything about it and has read books like The Warrior Elite or Marcus Luttrell's Lone Survivor. Save for the parts dealing with 9/11 and when he got hurt, the entire description of BUDS in the book with respect to Lt. Murphy generally goes like this "Michael and the other were expected to perform these many push-ups or run this distance...Michael and the others needed to perform this or that exercise in such or such a way or in this amount of time." After a while I just started skipping through the pages and not even reading them because I didn't want to fall asleep. This description does not even compare to the gripping account of BUDS training that was provided in Lone Survivor. Now I understand that a similar amount of detail cannot be provided because Lt. Murphy is unfortunately not with us, but the effort to research and describe his experiences in training in my opinion is very much lacking.

Then the book goes into the background of the Afghanistan War and Operation Redwings. The author hardly mentions Lt. Murphy in these sections. The actual operation itself is described in around 3 pages maybe even less I just don't remember and can't check because I don't have the book anymore. Either way, the description of the actual execution and what transpired during that tragic operation is very boring and bland in my opinion. In reading this description, I did not experience any of the emotions such as for example the absolute and utter awe that I experienced when I read the Lone Survivor. The writing, research and the structure of this book suggest to me that it was all done and put together poorly and in haste just to get it done and get it out there as soon as possible without actually worrying WHAT was being put out there. It seems as if a senior or junior high school student could have written this book.

All in all I am very disappointed with it. In my opinion this book is only fair at best and it absolutely DOES NOT do justice to the extraordinary man that Lt. Murphy was and to his accomplishments.
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on November 28, 2011
I highly recommend this book to anyone who read Lone Survivor and wants more detail. This is also an excellent resource for anyone planning to attempt BUD/S.
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