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Navy ship dedicated to fallen SEAL

From Susan Candiotti and Ross Levitt, CNN
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Ship named to honor fallen Navy SEAL
  • USS Michael Murphy named for Medal of Honor recipient
  • Murphy, a Navy SEAL lieutenant, was killed in 2005 in Afghanistan
  • His namesake destroyer was christened by his mother at a shipyard in Maine

Bath, Maine (CNN) -- Under clear, blue skies, a ship dedicated to fallen Medal of Honor recipient and Navy SEAL Lt. Michael Murphy was christened Saturday by his mother, Maureen, at Bath Iron Works shipyard in Maine.

"I feel not only Michael's presence, but that ship embodies the spirits of Michael and his teammates," Murphy's father, Daniel, told CNN.

Following tradition, Murphy's mother cracked a bottle of champagne against the hull of the USS Michael Murphy.

"Happy Birthday, son!" Murphy's mom said on what would have been her son's 35th birthday. His life was cut short in the mountains of Afghanistan in 2005.

Dr. Josh Appel, an Air Force Reserve flight surgeon, helped retrieve Murphy's body after a firefight that claimed the lives of 18 other troops, including 2 SEALs from Murphy's team.

Appel called the christening "a symbolic gesture that brings Michael's spirit into the ship."

Murphy's team -- on a mission to go after a Taliban leader -- was ambushed when the troops were outnumbered by Taliban fighters. Murphy was honored for his courage by running into a clearing to call for help despite exposing himself to enemy fire. He was hit with two bullets in his back, but continued to seek help on the call. His final words to his command belied the deadly attack under way: "Thank you," he said.

"We can never repay, but must never ever forget," said Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, in front of more than 2,000 people at the shipyard.

The ship's dedication comes during a week of honors for Navy SEALs. Members of the elite special ops force killed Osama bin Laden during a 38-minute operation early Monday in Pakistan.

"You're going to have good days. You're going to have bad days," Rear Adm. Garry Bonelli told CNN. "What we're trying to do is defend freedom and follow out the president's orders. That's what we're all about."

The destroyer will be moved to a dry dock for several months while workers put the final touches on it. The lettering on the stern of the ship doesn't need any more work. It says, "Michael Murphy," but among its admirers, it's already being called "the Murph."