The mission begins

"A grand affair." That's how Dan Murphy described the final commissioning of the U.S. Navy ship named after his hero son. The USS Michael Murphy is now a fully activated U.S. Navy fighting ship. The Arleigh-Burke class destroyer, named after the posthumous Congressional Medal of Honor winner, slipped its moorings on the west side of Manhattan Tuesday and set course for the Panama Canal and ultimately for Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.

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That's where Michael Murphy was based with his SEAL team. That's where Michael's spirit will now be embodied in both ship and crew. The final commissioning, at Pier 88, took place last Saturday, Oct. 6 and the moment when the ship entered the front lines of America's defenses came when Michael's mom, Maureen, told the sailors to "man our ship and bring her to life." This they did as the Navy Band played "Anchors Aweigh.

" The new destroyer, stated a report on the Navy's website, "honors the late Lt. (SEAL) Michael P. Murphy, a New York native who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in combat as leader of a four-man reconnaissance team in Afghanistan. "Murphy was the first person to be awarded the medal for actions in Afghanistan, and the first member of the U.S. Navy to receive the award since the Vietnam War. Thousands assembled for the commissioning. Among them was a delegation from the New York St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee and firefighters assigned to Engine 53/Ladder 43 in Harlem.

Michael Murphy had a friend in "El Barrio's Bravest" and wore its badge on his uniform. Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, delivered the principal speech at the commissioning. "This ship honors the courage, service and sacrifice of Lt. Michael Murphy, his Red Wings brothers, fellow SEALs, special operators and service members around the world who answer the call of duty every day," said Mabus.

"It is absolutely fitting that the USS Michael Murphy bears a SEAL trident on her crest because, much like Michael, and every Navy SEAL who has earned the honor of wearing the trident, this ship is designed to counter threats from above and below the surface of the oceans, in the air and on land." According to the Navy report, Cmdr. Thomas E. Shultz, a native of El Cajon, Calif., is the commanding officer of the 9,200 ton ship and leads a crew of 279 officers and enlisted personnel.