Customer Reviews: Seal of Honor: Operation Red Wings and the Life of Lt. Michael P. Murphy, USN
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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 July 2, 2014
Not as much of a picture of the battle as "Sole Survivor", from the only one that survived the battle, but just as engrossing. Lord, these guys have guts! Murphy was a heck of a leader. This is a wonderful story of courage, determination, sacrifice, camaraderie and leadership. So painfully sad such good men die and how inspiring for those of us that are the benefactors of these brave Americans' answer to the call of duty. Screw the politics, this is about the character of our military forces. War is horrible. Politics, these days, is highly questionable regarding the use of our military. These guys should be honored.
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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 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 September 23, 2011
Others above and below have done a good job of summarizing this book in detail. Gary Williams did a fantastic job of telling the story of US Navy SEAL LT Michael "Mike" Murphy in a way that absolutely gripped my heart.

There is no greater sacrifice than that given by men and women like LT Murphy. The other reviews speak for themselves: this book is good enough that every high school student in the U.S. should read this book and try to understand that, while they are planning their trip to the mall or playing "Angry Birds," others are giving up their very lives for them.

Please get and read this book, and I also recommend "Last Survivor" if you have not already read that.
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on September 17, 2011
This book honors the life, service, and death of a true American Hero. However it does so in only 208 pages. It gives good detail in the upbringing and training of Lieutenant Murphy, but skims by the battle that cost him his life in about 2 pages. I realize the books goal is to honor the fallen warrior, but the human curiosity begs for information on the firefight that killed the three Navy SEAL's. Read Marcus Lutrell's book "Lone Survivor" before or after this book. It goes into great detail of the battle, and just how brave and selfless Lieutenant Murphy really was.
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