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My Visit to USS Michael Murphy: What I learned from Murphy, My Great Uncle Bob and my Scottish Husband

My Visit to the USS Michael Murphy today: What I learned from Murphy, My Great Uncle Bob and my Scottish Husband

While I typically write about Finance, I feel compelled to write about my visit aboard the USS Michael Murphy today. And for the record the visit was spurred by my British husband who announced this am “close down your laptop we are going to do something more important today”.

While most of us are arguing about politics, the markets and what the upcoming presidential debates will bring, America honors a true hero. The USS Murphy opened to the public today at Pier 88 and is a symbol of bravery and selflessness. The destroyer, named for Medal of Honor Recipient Michael Murphy for his actions during Operation Red Wings in Afghanistan in 2005, was christened on May 7, 2011 and arrived in NYC Monday. The ship is a guided missile destroyer named for the local Long Island hero who was ambushed while trying to save others. Bravery that makes those of us sittting behind a desk worrying about our investment returns and taxes feel, simply put, embarrassed.

We arrived for the opening at 12.45 and expected massive lines for the 1pm debut tour. No lines on this rainy Tuesday. In fact my husband and I were the first to arrive. The Navy men and women asked us to bear with them as it was their first official tour in NYC. All we could do was thank them as we were the first to board the 510 ft ship weighing 9200+ tons. Despite my Scottish husband’s insistence that I be the first on board I over ruled him as he was the one so adamant we arrive in time for the debut tour.

We started out on deck where one of the Navy women gave us a tour of the missile launch area. This particular Navy woman is responsible for controlling the missile launch buttons. Now I am nominating her for the most powerful Forbes female list! The destroyer is capable of holding a total of 400 missiles depending on size. Next we moved to the anchor area. The main anchor weighs in at 9000 lbs. As we moved into the interior of the ship, the Navy team was still preparing for our arrival. My husband took a wrong turn and was quickly corraled back to the group. He also (in his over excitement) could not stop asking questions of Navy man Beckwith who was bringing up the rear for those of us who had trouble staying on course. Beckwith’s wife is also in the military, a story we often hear. He also could not have been nicer and answered all the Scottsman’s questions with enthusiasm. I apologized and suggested next tour they put the chatty ones at the front.

Next stop was the mess hall where we saw “the wall of heroes” including Murphy and his comrades. Murphy’s selfless efforts saved one team member against all odds and you can read about the story below deck. In addition there is an FDNY fire jacket with Murphy’s name on the back on display. You see Michael Murphy helped his close friend train to pass the FDNY exam. Ladder 53 issued this jacket in his honor. At this point our tour fell silent then started thanking every Navy member in the room for their service.

As the tour came to an end I wondered what do I say? How do I thank these selfless heroes that will protect us during the next crisis? Do I wish them well? What is the “right” thing to say? My husband stepped forward, shook each of their hands and simply said with his loud Scottish voice “Safe sailing” and “thank you”. I realized it is not what you say but how you say it and above all say something. Our heroes appreciate our support and are not focused on the perfect delivery. It is ok to fumble our words as long as we show our thanks.

During our tour I could not help but think of my Great Uncle Bob Fuller. I remember sitting with him about 10 years ago in my grandparents back yard and he was wearing a baseball cap which read the USS….something. I could not remember the name of the vessel where he was a gunner. I remember him telling me he manned the guns to defend his ship during WW II and he never forgave himself for “not saving everybody”. Uncle Bob is still haunted by this to this day. I Immediately called my mother to ask her the name of his vessel. It is important to remember. It bothers me that I do not know the name. I will soon.

To Uncle Bob, To Michael Murphy and to the rest of those who have protected us THANK YOU

And to those of you who sit behind a desk everyday like me…go visit the USS Michael Murphy, shake some hands, say thanks in your own way and if you have a surviving veteran relative ask them questions…it is important.

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