Groundbreaking ceremony
Pictured from left: Thomas Ronayne, Suffolk County Veterans Service Agency director; Maureen Murphy; Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone; and Suffolk County Legis. Bill Lindsay.

IB/Perrotta

Groundbreaking ceremony

Story By: ANTHONY PERROTTA
11/22/2018


WEST SAYVILLE—An earthmoving ceremony was held on Friday, Nov. 18 at the construction site of the Lt. Michael P. Murphy Navy SEAL Museum and Sea Cadet Training Facility. It will be the first United States Navy SEAL museum in the Northeast.

Two significant grants were presented to the dual-purpose facility during last week’s ceremony. The first, for $300,000, came from the Gardiner Foundation, while the second, for $400,000, came from the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York. New York State Sen. Tom Croci is responsible for securing the second grant. 

Murphy’s father, Daniel, and brother, John, both serve on the museum’s board of trustees. Daniel, a Purple Heart recipient and Vietnam War veteran, says the facility’s construction has been a “community effort,” with countless individuals giving not just donations, but their time and labor as well. “The people that helped make this museum possible are the people who recognized Michael’s service and sacrifice,” he said. 

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said the fallen hero represents much of what we are, as both a country and a county, and what we aspire to be. “[Murphy] symbolizes service, honor and sacrifice,” Bellone said, adding that the museum will serve not only as a monument to Murphy, but act as a “roadmap” for future SEALS like him. 

Suffolk County Legis. Bill Lindsay, along with other attendees, spoke about the speed at which the facility is moving along. Lindsay says officials passed legislation two years ago to allow construction on county property. “Two years may seem like a long time, but in politics, it’s light speed,” he said, referring to the universal support for a project such as this one. 

Lindsay also applauded the Murphy family for how they “conduct themselves, with such grace,” in their various endeavors to help keep Michael’s spirit alive. 

Islip Town Councilman John Cochrane, a Navy veteran, was also in attendance, along with NYS Assemblyman Andrew Garbarino and NYS Sen.-elect Monica Martinez. 

Vince Calvosa, director of construction for the museum, says the project is one of the biggest honors someone in his position could receive. Calvosa hopes construction will move along as quickly as the legal process. “We’re looking to have a ribbon-cutting ceremony this time next year,” he said, regarding the opening of the dual-purpose facility. 

Maureen Murphy, Michael Murphy’s mother, echoed previous sentiments that her son was a “team player.” While he would have appreciated the museum being named in his honor, she said, Michael would have truly loved the idea of a sea cadet training facility on the same premises, as he thought it was important for people, particularly young people, to get involved in their community. 

In addition to serving as a learning center for the Lt. Michael P. Murphy division of the United States Naval Sea Cadet Corps, classrooms will also offer nautically oriented training for children between the ages of 10 and 17. 

Maureen Murphy also boarded an excavator and personally removed the ceremonial first bucket of dirt for the facility’s foundation. It was her first time operating a piece of machinery that size. There was a bit of a learning curve, but she managed. “Couldn’t you tell it was my first time?” she laughed, after the mission was successfully completed. 

Murphy graduated from Patchogue-Medford High School (Class of ’94) and Pennsylvania State University (Class of ’98) before becoming a United States Navy SEAL lieutenant in 2002. He was killed in Afghanistan during Operation Red Wings in 2005 at age 29. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in protecting his fellow soldiers after they were ambushed during a reconnaissance mission. He was the first member of the United States Navy to receive the award since the Vietnam War.